In 2005, director Luc Jacquet launched the documentary March of the Penguins. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, it won the Best Documentary Oscar in 2006.
To cash in on that success, a November 2006 game launched as a bizarre tie-in. It came out on various consoles and used DMA’s early 1990s Lemmings premise as its core gameplay mechanic.
It all seems rather like a shameless cash grab now. And that’s as it was one. But, anyway, worth revisiting the game to see what it was about.
March of the Penguins to the Tune of Cash Grabbing Video Game Form
The weird task of adapting March of the Penguins into video game form was handled by Destination Software Inc. (DSI Games). Once based in New Jersey, the US developer is now defunct (as of 2007).
The game was published on the Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, and PlayStation 2. But since late 2006, this one has really slipped into obscurity.
But the game is now so obscure there isn’t even footage of the thing in action on any other console than the GBA. That’s a bit of a bummer.
There’s little information about it available online. Although we did find the French and German translations for you:
- La Marche de l’Empereur
- Die Reise der Pinguine
We also found out the executive producer of the game was a guy called Garry Kitchen. He’s now the CEO of Audacity Games and was responsible for porting Nintendo’s Donkey Kong to the Atari 2600 in the early 1980s.
Cool, huh? Therefore, such research now means we’re making it our life’s goal to be the go-to resource centre for anyone wanting to learn about March of the Penguins the video game.
As such, let’s take a closer look at this thing on action on the GBA.
There’s a bit of a plot going on here. March of the Penguins (the video game) is spread over some 12 chapters. The gameplay goals include:
- Navigating penguins across the icy tundra.
- Finding suitable mates for the penguins.
- Finding food to consume.
- Taking care of eggs.
- Guarding the young ones.
- Returning home.
That means the game is pretty faithful to the “plot” of the documentary, if you will, as that’s what emperor penguins get up to every year out there.
But there’s no denying the main bit of the game is the Lemmings concept. And it’s your job, as the player, to help them march onward. You have to:
- Melt stuff in their way.
- Get them to land on soft snow.
- Get them to use ramps, slides, and bridges etc.
The game also sometimes breaks off into mini-stages involving mazes, underwater sections, and collectathons.
We suppose it’s not that surprising to mention there’s educational gaming elements in here, too, regarding the penguin’s annual icy migration process. And the developers decided Lemmings was the best way to represent that.
To be honest, it’s a decent enough concept to nick for the game.
What else were they going to do? A 2D platformer, we guess, but this was never going to be an era-defining first-person shooter or RPG. Some recent games have had different concepts, such as the disappointing and microtransaction happy Penguin Isle.
Ultimately, March of the Penguins was a cash-in project DSI Games developed in 2006 and for which they did a pretty solid job.
It’s now just another retro gaming curiosity.
But it’s one that adorns this website gloriously as a reminder of the excellence of emperor penguins and their annual march.