The Merry Walrus Party introduced a character who would become Club Penguin's most controversial, Merry Walrus himself (it's his name and catchphrase). If you think about it, the introduction and inclusion of Merry Walrus is treated like a deus ex machina in order to be "accepted" as host of the Merry Walrus Party. It's quite a cheap plot device based on coincidence, and that's why his appearance came out as shocking to players. Also, Merry Walrus somehow has magical powers, supposedly from a magical island unexplored by us. To top it all of, it's not until shortly before the party that Aunt Arctic finds a storybook about him. We might have been more willing to meet Merry Walrus if we had hints of him earlier hidden in the game across time.Why and how a single walrus took over Club Penguin's beloved Holiday Party and Coins For Change is beyond me. The irony is that in real life, walruses are likely to eat penguins if they encountered. His sleigh looks like it's up to mischief (see the eyes). We don't know where those coins are going, considering he just got to Club Penguin and volunteered.
Merry Walrus. Why a walrus? Why not a penguin? The answers to this question might be so complex. But it does look like Club Penguin is in favor of big characters. We've had Herbert and Sasquatch introduced in recent years. Is it because they're easier to click on? Maybe if Club Penguin didn't release so many large and/or puffy items to begin with in recent years then this would be less of a problem.
More to the positive side, Merry Walrus' generosity and forgiveness are probably his most well-received characteristics, heavily influenced by Santa Claus. It's quite an original spin for him to give to the naughty in hope to bring some light in their life.
- "Herbert P. Bear? Oh I know him alright! He impersonated me and almost ruined Merry Walrus! But even he deserves a present so I got him some nice earmuffs, the good noise cancelling kind. Then I delivered him to the EPF. That was the Director's present!"
- — Best quote by Merry Walrus in-game
Merry Walrus does seem expected to return next year by the Club Penguin Team. I think he'll eventually transition in well with the players if Club Penguin redefined the character slightly: A little less Santa Claus, a little more charming, with a less sketchy sleigh.On a side note: While Merry Walrus rewards himself by giving to others, it would've been more effective if players in-game had more freedom to give. Gift giving on Club Penguin's blogosphere and social media has inspired the older demographic to give, but the children playing online may not have the necessary creative freedom. That's why a Happy Holidays gift postcard would have a warm return in 2014. Sadly, there was no gift postcard this year. Like a smiling penguin once said, "It's great getting gifts — but giving them is more fun!"
We Wish You A Merry WalrusFirst off, a 22 minute TV special that took nine months for Club Penguin to make is dedication. It's quite satisfying to see that more detailed visuals were achieved by using real material in a real set (the only obvious CGI being the Blue Crystal Puffles, which does seem out of place sometimes). This is a significant step up from animated shorts. While stop-motion may be a dying old-fashioned art due to its tedious production, the Club Penguin Team made the process worth it with their final product! It was such a gem that former CP players urged themselves to watch it.
The plot is crafted well for a 22 minute special, with Roofhowse as a main character we can identify with, who goes to embark on a fulfilling adventure. The special tries to take on meaningful themes of revenge, good vs evil, and unity of family. All well and good!
Squidy2008 goes on to make a good point:
- Herbert being the main antagonist of the movie was a smart move. He's someone that everyone loves to hate, and so CP decided to play it safe by not messing with the classics. Lucky for them, it worked out. Not much backstory (or monologue with visual aides) was needed. The whole Herbert "Operation" thing has always been a success for CP, and I'm glad they went with it in the movie. I think it is worth mentioning that the animation style change when Herbert reveals the details of his plan (I'll let the specifics of said style remain unspoiled) was refreshingly unique.
As well, Squidy2008 mentions that Merry Walrus' character is established in an "incredibly random" manner that felt "forced", acting as a deus ex machina to "provide transportation for the main characters".It was new to see diverse body "shapes" of penguins included. For example, Roofhowse had a long neck and Sydmull was very short. Could this mean we'll be able to shape our penguin in the future? Probably not. Regardless, I think Club Penguin really wanted to make a distinctiveness to those characters so they could look less "static" and forgetful than they really are. Lorna, for example, is probably only included to inform Roofhowse about the ancient prophecy out of coincidence. Also, like Squidy2008 commented, they're only there to show that Roofhowse is "welcome" to Club Penguin. Of course it's a 22 minute special so it's hard to stretch the plot's length to allow more character development, but their roles could have easily been given to Rockhopper or Merry Walrus. Squidy2008 criticized that Merry Walrus does not do enough "in order to have the movie NAMED after him".
One possible continuity error is that Rockhopper's ship had been rebuilt quite quickly after the sinking of his ship in last month's Pirate Party. Nonetheless, there was a great continuity nod that overshadowed this: Herbert's submarine (hinted previously on his website and on Club Penguin Times) was finally used.
Joe (Executive Producer of the special) and his team were highly successful in elevating the humor in Rockhopper's character. Right even before the real story begins, Rockhopper captivates the audience with a remarkable pun:
- “Oh hello, Captain Rockhopper at your service. What’s that you say? You were off in the bathroom and missed the whole hullabaloo? Well, lucky for you I downloaded it off the internet. I ain’t saying how, but I am a pirate!"
Music was a mixed bag. I wasn't very fond of most of the tracks, but I did appreciate the returning "Santa's Mix", a classic track but with a lasting tune. I also enjoyed the new underrated song, "Puffle Shuffle" as well as its instrumental. It seems to be under influence of contemporary pop music seamlessly mixed with a festive jingle. As a result, it sounds very appealing! Perfect vocal range too. I think this is the best song sung by Cadence so far, even better than "Best Day Ever". Well done Cadence & The Penguin Band! I think the song deserved more promotion.
Gameplay was a factor that let the party down. Much to the players' disappointment, the quest feature returned, which greatly undermined the lasting freshness and fun quality of the party. Tech70 highlighted a good point:
- Is riding in Santa's sleigh fun? YES
- Are train rides around the island fun? YES
- Is throwing snowballs in the room fun? NO
The train rides from last year's party allowed members to do something for non-members. Members could enjoy driving trains or being a passenger of one, but non-members could still enjoy the train experience by being a passenger. It was such a communal, enjoyable, and memorable gameplay experience. In fact, it was a highly successful model that I just had to become a member for the party. Not to mention, the Santa's Sleigh used from even earlier Holiday Parties provided a decent roleplay experience in that players could land and fly the sleigh. But this year's party hardly had great gameplay.
Was the Merry Walrus Parade an attempt to make up for last year's train experience? Who knows? But still, there is no "members doing something for non-members" or memorable "control" of the parade. It's disappointing that vehicle items (e.g. Blue Wheeler) don't drive like a vehicle in front of the Merry Walrus float and instead waddle like a penguin.
Chillin43 commented that: "Something else that was cheap was the lame Forest tree decorating. I found it quite stupid that the ornaments had to clip into place and couldn't be thrown anywhere"
Items were used as incentives for the tasks given to us by Merry Walrus, which overshadowed the social aspect of the party. That's why this system is never going to be praiseworthy. The tasks are quite simple, point-and-click tasks. There was hardly shared communication or engagement coming from this system, unlike in non-item rewarding tasks given in "101 Days of Fun" back in 2009 or collecting coins for donations from train rides in the Holiday Party 2013.
Coins For ChangeCoins For Change has toned down its importance to players this year. Just like last year, we can't have an option on what projects to donate to. From 2007 - 2012, players could decide for themselves how much of their own coins would be donated for each project. This would determine how the million or so real dollars Club Penguin would be divided up amongst the three different projects: Medical Help, Protecting the Earth, and Building Safe Places. Now it seems our donating of virtual coins is pointless.
Additionally, the absence of a Coins For Change counter in decorated rooms was quite disappointing this year. In fact, the whole awareness of Coins For Change this year has downgraded. In 2010 and 2011, donation tubes were attached to the donation stations which all led to the Lighthouse, which progressively filled with coins overtime. This effectively reminded players to check out the progress of the donations and keep on donating. Also in 2009, we had the benefit concert at the Lighthouse, Concert For Change. What's so special about Coins For Change in 2014? Not much compared to previous Holiday Parties.
I also think the newspaper could have done a better job spreading awareness for Coins For Change. Wouldn't it be cool if Aunt Arctic interviewed some players (or even notable players) about Coins For Change and used that for an article? That would be a far better replacement for Cadence's lame Coins For Change motivation article.
What was most disappointing is that Club Penguin failed to show that we actually didn't beat our previous record and instead donated plentiful of fake coins just to give the illusion that we beat the previous record.
Decorations were the most controversial aspect of the party. There were significantly less room decorations for the party than last year. What happened to island-wide festive spirit? When most of the island is decorated, then players would be encouraged to celebrate the festive spirit anywhere. Potential rooms that would've been better off decorated include:
- Boiler Room
- Underground Pool
- Ski Hill
- Ski Lodge
- Lodge Attic
- Everyday Phoning Facility
- EPF Command Room
- Book Room (CP Times Office)
- Dance Club
- Dance Lounge
- Clothes Shop
- Pizza Parlor
- Dojo Courtyard
Like Riyita argued, it was disappointing that the Club Penguin Team didn't bother to reuse a few old room designs instead of "not touching them at all". Chillin43 also opined: "Some rooms (like the Pizza Parlor, Gift Shop, and Ski Lodge) had Christmas music playing with no decorations, which just seemed cheap."Another point to make is the Merry Walrus Island decoration. From all the places Merry Walrus could have teleported you to, you get the least detailed portion of the island, just by the seaside. Then again, it's better than nothing.
Moving on, the decorative theme for the Merry Walrus Party had that "winter wonderland" type of feel. It brought a surprising change from the aurora filled night sky to a daytime sky. This disappointed some penguins because the cold night sky from previous Holiday Parties allowed for a warmer tone for the decorations which felt a lot more into the holiday season, while this year's Merry Walrus Party was a direct opposite. From red to blue. From warm to cold. I thought the decorations were quite fresh for the Town, Plaza, and the Mine Shack, despite them just being recolorings. However, it did not feel that magical or fantastical.I was surprised that during the party, the Coffee Shop (which hasn't been doing too well in decorations since its renovation) had achieved its best decoration so far since its renovation. It's promising to see the floors and walls getting color. The colored fine outlines were a nice touch too. Now if we could only hope that it could get even better next year, with a promising warm family feeling like the Coffee Shop had during the Christmas Party 2008.
I could go on and on about decorations. But the general feeling is, the decorations for the party isn't as admirable as previous parties. The party suffers from too many underdecorated rooms AND too many overdecorated/transformed rooms. Why? Polo Field might have an explanation:
- “Some of you were disappointed. Just [k]no[w] parties are more work now because [of] Android and iPhone [compatibility] and [so] more work [is needed] to do everything.
- I hope you understand [that] the team tires like really hard, like [they worked] overtime to get this party [ready] so they deserve a thanks! It’s way more helpful!”
Happyblue128 opines a good suggestion in response:
- I did however give Polo Field a possible solution as to how the team can ensure the web version of the game (ClubPenguin.com) is decorated to the high standards that were met with previous parties from previous years. Simply, do what the Club Penguin team did on the app for the Halloween Party – only release a few decorations on the app and make it clear that if the user wants to play the full version of the party, they’ll have to go to ClubPenguin.com (the web version). This way, everyone’s happy… right? Polo seems to think this is quite a good idea, so hopefully we’ll see more decorations on the web version, and therefore less on the app, soon!
I couldn't have said it better myself.
But there is another issue, that only explains why there are too many underdecorated rooms. So why did Club Penguin choose to overdecorate or completely transform rooms? The Snow Forts has no Snow Forts anymore, the Town/Plaza buildings don't retain their original form, the Forest is completely cleared off, and how did the Mine Shack get so small? I think it makes more sense when decorations DON'T transform Club Penguin's buildings, so that we are reminded that we're in Club Penguin, with Club Penguin buildings. Why the big deal? Let's look at the number of flash items in the Plaza during the Holiday Party 2009 and the number of flash items in the Plaza during the Merry Walrus Party 2014:
The number of flash items for the Plaza during the Merry Walrus Party 2014 is about 13 TIMES the size of the Plaza during the Holiday Party 2009. Now imagine all the work being put into getting those flash items compatible with mobile devices. It doesn't seem like a simple upload due to the poor content from the parties we've been having recently. This proves that it would be better to decorate the original form of the building, but not overdo it by changing the buildings completely. If this is done well, then the Club Penguin Team should be able to spread more decorations across the island using an optimized number of flash items. Wait a minute, do mobile devices use flash? Probably not, but if not, they'd still use individual images, which take up space too.
I rarely do a "Substance" section, though I think this party deserves one. Club Penguin's TV special, "We Wish You A Merry Walrus", depicted Club Penguin having Cadence sing "Puffle Shuffle". Why don't we get such an awesome performance in-game? It's like as if We Wish You A Merry Walrus TV special itself was way more fun than the Merry Walrus Party. (Note that the TV Special had nighttime during the party too)
Also, the Mall is really lacking substance. You can't virtually buy anything from the Mall, so why was it necessary in the first place? It's as if the Stage is useless. In fact, the Stage play for We Wish You A Merry Walrus is set outside of the actual Stage. Could this mean the Stage could discontinue? Revamp? Relocate? I think the Stage needs to be redefined in order for popular usage. It would need a better balance of player control and CP Team control over what happens and goes in the Stage.
The Blue Crystal Puffles suffered a lack of substance too. WHO knew they'd be coming? Also unfortunately, we do a task-oriented quest in order to obtain a Blue Crystal Puffle. This is not quite the same as the memorable expedition-oriented quest in order to obtain the Brown Puffles back in 2011. The Blue Crystal Puffles don't actually do anything special. I haven't seen them fly around even when Club Penguin has affirmed that they're the most "magical" puffle to date. It's also unfortunate that Blue Crystal Puffles were revealed before we were able to obtain them. Spoilers! Enb 11 notes that: "Like someone I follow on Twitter said, CP now treats puffles as some kind of Happy Meal toy that has a new one coming every once in a while and that you can collect, and not as a pet that you have to care and give love."
Catalogs & Items
I appreciated how a cool new concept was brought in to get donations running - making coins used for purchasing items in the Penguin Style be donated for Coins For Change. I thought it worked pretty well and no one has any issues with it.
Clothing items were a mixed bag. Some looked better on mobile because the items looked too puffy on the web. The party items specifically don't look like they'll be making a fashion statement, but you'll never know when you need a monster puffle costume.
The Furniture & Igloo Catalog really didn't need the Train Station igloo. I have never seen much players enjoy the Train Station igloo because the creativity is so limited. My personal favorite furniture items in the catalog are: Candy Cane Lantern, Holiday Lights, Potted Poinsettia, and the Ice Cube Wreath. They'd make neat decorations for igloos.
Despite a strongly successful TV special run, the party's weakest points lie in the game, consequentially letting down the rating to below satisfactory. This review is quite heavy so it's hard to tell what weak spots should be mended first. But it seems most players have complained about decorations. Interestingly, at the moment of this review's publication, the user rating for the party is lower than my rating just like with my 9th Anniversary Party review. To me, this usually means that I'm being too generous, or the players were furiously upset from the significant changes from "old traditions". I think we know what's more likely. But perhaps things will get better next year. 3.9 out of 10.
Now it's time for your say! What would you rate the Merry Walrus Party 2014? Feel free to post your opinions on the party in the comments. :)
(Please note that all user ratings for 2014 parties will become permanent by January 1, 2015 to ensure validity. You have until then to rate and comment on the party if you are going to)
10:51, December 25, 2014 (UTC)