Air Penguin soars to No. 1 in the App Store

Who says penguins can't fly? The star of this new game just skyrocketed ahead of Angry Birds, Tiny Wings, and Cut the Rope.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read

Don't be alarmed, but birds are taking over. Tiny birds, angry birds, and now flightless Antarctic birds. If only Alfred Hitchcock were alive to see this.

The latest fowl to fly to the top of the App Store charts? Penguins--specifically, Air Penguin, which currently holds the No. 1 spot. It's ahead of Cut the Rope, ahead of Tiny Wings, and even ahead of all three Angry Birds games (including the recently updated-for-Easter Angry Birds Seasons).

Screenshot by Rick Broida

Why all the fuss? At first I wasn't quite sure. Air Penguin is a pretty straightforward tilt-control game--not unlike Doodle Jump, but putting two axes into play instead of just one. It's your job to guide your bouncing, somersaulting, sliding, occasionally flying penguin from one ice floe to the next, tilting your iDevice left, right, forward, and backward to steer him. One bad landing and you plop into the water; game over.

Along the way you'll encounter increasingly difficult obstacles: smaller ice floes that are harder to land on, floes that are already cracked (and therefore can't be landed on), jumping swordfish, and, of course, sharks (which leap out of the water in a suitably fearsome fashion).

Fortunately, there's help along the way as well: turtles to ride, fish to collect, whale blow-holes to land on (for a quick jump-boost), and so on.

The fish you collect (or purchase in-game) can be exchanged for special power-ups. One of them gives you a one-time rescue from the water; another temporarily "disables" the sharks.

Air Penguin is fun, no doubt about it. Addictive, too, pushing all the right "just one more time" buttons. I can't say it's captured my attention the way, say, Tiny Wings did (or even Cover Orange), but it's definitely a nice diversion--and an easy impulse buy at 99 cents.

What do you think of Air Penguin? Best game since Angry Birds, or just the flavor of the moment?