Have You Played… The Next Penelope?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

My childhood was mostly spent playing games on the Amiga 500, which meant a steady diet of topdown racers like Micro Machines, Skidmarks, Overdrive and probably a dozen others. The Next Penelope [official site] is of that same lineage, but oozing with extra style: not least because it’s a sci-fi retelling of Odyssey from the perspective of Ulysses’ wife.

Yeah, you heard that right – and there’s obviously a fair amount of inspiration in here from Ulysses 31, a cartoon I missed as a kid but watched as a semi-adult. The game imagines that while Ulysses is off being lost in space, Penelope took part in high-speed sci-fi races in order to defeat figures from Greek mythology – all of whom own thematically appropriate vehicles and race tracks.

It’s a fun setup, but it wouldn’t be worth anything if the racing itself weren’t also fun. It is. Fast and nippy and simple, but with enough happening – your boost and weapons use the same energy source as your vehicle’s health, for example – that it’s exciting and compelling to play. It won’t take you more than a couple of hours to complete if you’re not intent on improving your times, but it’s a couple of hours of vibrant fun.

12 Comments

  1. Kefren says:

    Ah, Skidmarks, what fun! Especially on the A1200 when you could mix car types. I’m planning a blog post about my favourite Amiga games at some point. The image in this post also reminds me of a horizontal Alleykat link to img.photobucket.com (before the time of you youngsters).
    Combining all that with my ancient Greek classics background, I think I’ll have to download The Next Penelope this weekend…

    • Kefren says:

      And the bonus fun was when my friend arrived with his bag of Amiga disks, and I was overheard asking him “Have you got skidmarks?”

      • Windows98 says:

        This was an endless source of hilarity for my uncles. Went right over my head at the time.

  2. Shar_ds says:

    Interesting post-mortum:

    link to aurelregard.tumblr.com

    • yonsito says:

      Actually bought it after reading this. I had it on my wishlist for months.

  3. Neutrino says:

    I’m just going to leave this here.

    The Ulysses 31 Restoration Project

  4. JaguarWong says:

    I tried, but the game constantly gives me a low FPS warning despite murdering the recommended specs.

    If anyone has any ideas I’d love to hear them.

    • Crafter says:

      same thing here.
      My very recent computer should murder this game, the total opposite happens.

      It kinda ruins the legitimacy of his advocacy for Construct/html5 for games.

      • JaguarWong says:

        I’ve left a message on the Steam forum and emailed him direct. Nothing yet.

        I’m sure he’s a busy guy and gets lots of this kind of thing, but an acknowledgment would be nice.

    • EarX says:

      It’s a problem with html5/WebGL/Construct 2 most like. It’s really too bad because the game itself is great. A must-have for F-Zero fans I think. One thing I noticed with html5/webgl games is that they can run pretty damn dodgy on dual-gpu solutions. The engine doesn’t recognize the dedicated card and falls back on the integrated piece of… If you have that kind of card then maybe that’s it?

  5. aoanla says:

    I hadn’t even realised that The Next Penelope had actually been released! *goes off to look*