Pengo: Classic Arcade Game Video, History & Game Play Overview


Originally released in 1982, Pengo was the second game in arcade game history to feature animated interludes. Although Pengo is considered to be an infinite game play with randomized levels, there are many clear-cut goals in which players must achieve in order to advance.

Only one official sequel to Pengo, named Pepenga Pengo was authorized. This sequel was created by Atari in 1995, and its release was restricted to Japan. Two updated versions of the original, including a 3D version of Pengo were released in the 2000’s.

Pengo was authored by Coreland and published and distributed by Sega. Coreland now goes by the name Banpresto. Because this arcade classic was received well by audiences, Sega ported the game to the Commodore 64, Atari 2600 and other home gaming systems. Around the time that Sega began to get into the hand-held gaming system market, the company decided to include Pengo as a featured title. Bandai Electronics was responsible for the manufacturing of all hand-held consoles that featured Pengo.

The theme music to Pengo was written by Gershon Kingsley. Up’n Down, another video game published by Sega in the early 1980s also makes use of the Pengo character. Players that performed exceptionally well were able to catch a brief glimpse of Pengo after the first few boards.

A handful of Pengo clones also came out in the early 1980s, but none of them became as popular as the original title. Pengo can be played with either one or two players.


Game Play Overview

The main character in Pengo is a waddling penguin that walks around various ice block filled mazes. His main objective is to avoid his enemies, named Snow Bees. Pengo has no practical weapons, but he can either out maneuver or defeat his foes by making use of the ice blocks that make up each board.

Whenever Pengo is touched by a Snow Bee, he loses a turn. Snow Bees are also able to tap and destroy ice blocks with their hammers and chisels. While there are only usually a few Snow Bees within each board, Pengo is rarely able to get rid of them all. Snow Bee eggs are present on each level, with a new Snow Bee ‘hatching’ every time one is killed. If a player gets close to running out of time on a particular level, the remaining Snow Bee is able to transform into Blobs. Blobs are basically giant Snow Bees that move at a much higher rate of speed.

While steering clear of Snow Bees is the easiest way to stay alive, you will not be able to advance if you don’t kill all enemies present. Pengo is able to eliminate his enemies in a number of ways. When a Snow Bee is surrounded by blocks on both sides, Pengo has the opportunity to crush it. Snow Bees can also be killed when Pengo touches one of the four walls that appear within the maze. The vibrations will instantly stop all Snow Bees within a short range from moving for a few seconds. Snow Bee eggs, however, will remain unchanged.

When Pengo clears a maze, a short animated sequence plays. These intermissions always feature a row of penguins of various colors dancing. In total, there are six unique animated shorts in Pengo.

Players can earn points by crushing ice blocks, gathering special blocks, killing Snow Bees, eliminating Snow Bee eggs, shaking walls and clearing stages in less than 60 seconds.

Special Features

Each round has a 60 second time limit to earn a bonus. Players get 5,000 points if they kill all Snow Bees in 20 seconds or under. A total of 2,000 points are awarded when Pengo clears a stage in 29 seconds or less. A 1,000 point bonus is given when Pengo defeats his enemies in less than 39 seconds. Players get 500 points when they complete a board in 49 seconds or under, and 10 points are given when Pengo advances in 59 seconds or less. When all 60 seconds expire from the clock, the player will lose a life.

On each level of Pengo, there are three special ice blocks that feature a diamond shaped icon. These blocks can’t be crushed by Pengo, but they do yield a 10,000 point bonus when they are lined up side by side.

Squashing a single Snow Bee between two ice blocks always yields 400 points, but players can get a bonus if they crush multiple enemies at the same time. Although as many as five Snow Bees may patrol a level at one time, you will only get a bonus for squishing four foes.

Killing two Snow Bees between the ice blocks will give you 1,600 points. Players acquire 3,200 points for eliminating three Snow Bees at once and a 6,400 point bonus for killing four. When an ice block that contains a Snow Bee egg is destroyed, an extra 500 points will be attained.

All players are given three lives at the start of the game. Extra lives are awarded when you score 30,000 points. You can continue to win more extra lives for every additional 30,000 points that you earn.


Pengo – Pengo is a small red and white colored penguin that moves throughout the game. Control him to crush ice blocks, kill Snow Bees and add to your score.

Blobs – Only one Blob can appear on a board, and only if a player gets close to running out of time. Blobs are more dangerous than traditional Snow Bees, but they can be destroyed using the usual methods.

Ice blocks – Small, blue colored ice blocks make up each and every maze in Pengo. Use them to kill Snow Bees, or crush them to earn more points.

Snow Bees – Snow Bees are Pengo’s sole enemies. Between three to five Snow Bees will appear at the start of each stage, but you have to kill them all in order to move on to the next level.

Special blocks – Special blocks can be moved and arranged for a special point bonus.

Snow Bee eggs – Pengo has to crush Snow Bee eggs in order to prevent them from turning into adult Snow Bees. Soon after any Snow Bees are killed, a corresponding number of Snow Bee eggs will hatch.

How to Play Pengo

Pengo can only move in four basic directions; left, right, up and down. There are no special fire keys. In order to move a block, you will need to push the right or left directional keys.

The mazes are randomized, but there are only approximately 30 different combinations that the game will choose from. If you become familiar with Pengo, you will begin to recognize each of these 30 randomized maze patterns. After completing each of the first six boards, the same six animated sequences will play in the same order. After the sixth level, the order will change.

Although the maze patterns will vary, the number of Snow Bees that appear on each board and level of difficulty will stay the same. Keep the game going by continuing to add to you score and earn more lives. Pengo will end as soon as you lose your final man.

Game Play Strategies
Because Pengo is almost entirely randomized; there is no way to know which maze you will end up on next. For this reason, many players choose to use adaptable strategies. Some may choose to try and get the highest time bonus by quickly killing all Snow Bees, while others choose to stay close to the walls so that they can stun Snow Bees and destroy them more easily.

Snow Bees will begin to chase you as soon as they see you, so it is possible to round them up by crushing ice blocks in strategic locations. Although this is a great way to kill multiple enemies at once, it does also expose you to a higher risk of losing a turn.

Since you will earn more extra lives as your score gets higher, you may also want to consider trying to get as many bonuses as possible on the lower levels. Take your time, line up the special blocks, crush all blocks containing Snow Bee eggs and focus on getting the best time bonuses possible. This way, you will be equipped with many extra men as you get past the six initial stages.

Although employing a strategy will help you to go further in Pengo, it is important that you remain open to change. Every time that you move onto a new level, your enemies will become faster and smarter. Eventually, the ‘tricks’ that you have been making use of will cause you to start losing lives if you don’t change things up.

Hints and Tips
- Always stay in a part of the maze where you will easily be able to crush Snow Bees between two blocks. Should you need to venture into a corner, make sure that you have a route mapped out to get away quickly.

- All blocks that house Snow Bee eggs are briefly revealed at the start of every new round with a flash of light green color. It will be easier for you to locate the blocks that need to be crushed if you pay close attention. However, avoid going after all of the Snow Bee eggs at the very beginning or else you risk being bombarded and cornered by your enemies.

- Kill the Blob as quickly as you can. Not only do you risk losing a life when he appears, but you also get no extra points for killing this super enemy. In fact, it is best to try to prevent the Blob from appearing altogether.


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