Penarium story centers around a boy named Willie who seeks adventure in his life, and one day a circus comes to town which draws him in, inevitably Willie is kidnapped by the circus ringmaster, setting the scene for the game ahead where he must perform within a sinister circus arena, where contestants, much like Gladiators of old, are forced to entertain in front of a sadistic crowd.
Penarium may not be diverse with its areas as they are set within a pixelated 2D arena which doesn’t seem to change much, where you must survive all the challenges thrown at you as you jump from one platform to the next. While the control of Willie is very responsive and it has to be to do all the dodging and weaving around the levels, you can also jump out one side and return through the other side to avoid any incoming objects.
Penarium doesn’t offer much with its 3 game modes:
Arcade – jump and dodge while smashing crates and collecting rewards like coins, while dodging lasers, bullets, rockets and spinning blades.
Campaign – this is set over three circus arenas with a total of 30 levels with increasing difficulty, the early levels not to say are easy but are easy enough to overcome until your first caldron level where you have to collect potions with three colours and match them up to the correct caldron as they fall from the air. But be quick as you only have a certain limit of how many you can let be destroyed. The game itself is simple yet still fun to play and yes it will get a little frustrating later on as you keep on dying, but you have the luxury of infinite respawns the downside is that you have to restart the level from the start.
Multiplayer – again another mode that seems similar to the campain with only a local 2 player coop mode does add something extra but doesn’t really add anything to the overall game.
As you expect the ingame sound is familiar with what you would expect to associate with circus music with brass band playing in the background does add that authentic sound but there is little else to really wow you as there is no game dialogue, only text.
Finally there is a shop where you can buy perks such as Greed which change your eyes to dollar signs and earns you extra credits, more are unlocked when you unlock new arenas, but you need to build up your credits within the arcade mode to buy them as some perks are highly priced.
Penarium might have a unique setting with its circus theme, but the game itself feels uninspiring with little in the way on offer, yes it has moments of fun, but is let down by its lack of variety.