Codex Gamicus

Pengo is an arcade game developed by Coreland and published by Sega in 1982. The player controls Pengo, a red penguin that resides in the Antarctic. The game takes place in an overhead maze made of ice blocks, where Pengo fights the patrolling, blob-like Sno-Bees. The objective of the game is for Pengo to survive a series of rounds by bringing together the three diamonds dispersed in the maze or eliminating all opposing Sno-Bees.


The player uses a joystick and a single button as controls. Pressing the button while pushing the joystick will cause Pengo to push forward the ice block he is facing, which will slide until it hits a wall or another ice block, crushing any intervening Sno-Bees. Crushing more than one Sno-Bee at once will increase the number of points awarded. There are a total of sixteen levels, which repeat in order starting on the seventeenth round.

As the player crushes those on patrol, new Sno-Bees hatch from eggs located within ice blocks. At the start of each level, blocks that contain these eggs are briefly identified by flashing the color of that level's Sno-Bees. Eggs can be eliminated by crushing the ice blocks that contain them. If Pengo pushes a side wall the water "vibrates", any adjacent Sno-Bees will be briefly stunned, and are eliminated (for 100 points) if Pengo walks over them in this state. Eliminating all Sno-Bees in a round will progress the player to the next.

Diamond blocks are unbreakable; when ordered into a horizontal or vertical line the player earns bonus points: 10,000 points if aligned without being against a wall, 5,000 points if aligned against a wall. Alignment will also temporarily stun all Sno-Bees.

After 60 seconds elapse in a round without a death, the game enters into sudden death mode; the music tempo and movement of the Sno-Bees accelerates. If a single Sno-Bee remains in the round, a jingle plays and the Sno-Bee accelerates in an attempt to reach a corner where it safely fades away.

The game will always start with the same maze on power up. Once the game has gone through the attract mode, the maze will change.

Easter egg[]

In the attract mode, push the two joys to up, press the two action buttons and one button of start game, and it will show the credits of the game. After a few seconds, the game will reset. The wait can be stopped pushing the start 1 button.


The point award for crushing Sno-Bees depends on the number crushed in one push of an ice block:

  • 400 for 1 Sno-Bee
  • 1,600 for 2 Sno-Bees
  • 3,200 for 3 Sno-Bees
  • 6,400 for 4 Sno-Bees

Walking over a stunned Sno-Bee awards 100 points.

10,000 points are awarded for aligning the three diamond blocks together if at least one is not touching a wall, but only 5,000 if all are against the walls.

Crushing an ice block will award 30 points, or 500 points if it contains a Sno-Bee egg.

A bonus is awarded upon round completion, depending on time elapsed:

  • 5,000 points for under 20 seconds
  • 2,000 points for between 20–29 seconds
  • 1,000 points for between 30–39 seconds
  • 500 points for between 40–49 seconds
  • 10 points for between 50–59 seconds
  • 0 points for 60 seconds or more

By default, Pengo begins with three lives and a bonus life is awarded at 30,000 points; these numbers can be changed (anywhere from 2 to 5 lives, and the bonus life can be awarded at 50,000 instead) through dip switch settings.


In a manner similar to Pac-Man, one of six brief intermissions plays on even-numbered rounds after the bonus is awarded. The intermissions feature eight penguins performing various routines. In the first the penguins perform a small marching routine. In the second they "shake their booty". In the third each penguin stops and salutes the player. In the fourth the penguins turn to face the player and then exit the screen in a line, reminiscent of the aliens in Space Invaders. In the fifth the source of the game's background music is revealed: Pengo himself, playing piano. In the sixth intermission, Pengo appears from behind the piano to play "peek-a-boo" with the player. These intermissions then repeat in order throughout the remainder of the game.

Ports and variations[]

The first version of the game used "Popcorn" as theme music and took a few moments to draw the maze at the beginning of each level. The final version of the game drew the maze instantly and used its own distinctive theme music due to licensing issues.[citation needed]

Pengo received ports to several home consoles and computers, including the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Commodore 64, and Sega Game Gear.

In 1995 a brand new game called Pepenga Pengo was released for the Sega Mega Drive only in Japan.

As with many early arcade games there are numerous unofficial clones, such as Pengi for the BBC Micro and Acorn Electron. Capcom's 1991 game Don't Pull (part of Three Wonders) is another Pengo clone.

In 2003 a 3D version of Pengo called Pengo 3D was released by *X2 Productions.

In 2010 a remake was released in arcades which features eight player multiplay.[1]

Competitive play[]

According to Twin Galaxies, Rodney Day of Canberra, Australia has held the world record Pengo score of 1,110,370 points since August 13, 1983.[2] Day's performance has been commemorated by both the Twin Galaxies' Official Video Game & Pinball Book of World Records and Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition.[3]


Pengo makes a cameo appearance in Up'n Down. If a player manages to pass the first four rounds in less than a minute each, he will appear in the water of round five riding a surf-board.


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