How do you mourn the loss of something that you’ve long since neglected?
To be honest, when news broke out last February that Club Penguin would be closing its browser-based platform to make way for a new app, I wasn’t all that bummed. The website had its time, after all. I told myself that it was just one of those little blows that you learn to move on from. Back when WiFi still wasn’t available in households and Yahoo! Messenger was still a thing, Club Penguin was the place to be. You weren’t cool if you didn’t have your own Penguin account, and having a paid membership pretty much solidified your status as the coolest kid in school.
On weekends, I’d log on using my family’s dusty old Windows desktop PC and spend hours roaming around the virtual world. I remember sustaining my light-blue penguin by playing a bunch of mini-games. I earned coins by making pizza with the Pizzatron 3000 (what I would give to taste that chocolate pizza), unload bags of coffee beans with Bean Counters, and babysit puffles with the Puffle Roundup.
Puffles and penguins dominated much of the lunchtime conversation for some time. My friends and I would always brag about finishing the secret missions first. This was what 10-year-olds in 2007 would do after school to unwind and have fun.
The website’s popularity peaked in 2007. Like any passing fad, we all eventually abandoned our penguins for other more “grown-up” games and never looked back. But as March 29 (the date of closing) inched closer and closer, I started getting curious. Was my penguin still alive? Can penguins die in Club Penguin? And more importantly, did the iceberg finally tip?
These questions led me to type in clubpenguin.com in my address bar almost a decade later. When I tried logging in, I realized that I couldn’t remember the name of my penguin anymore, let alone my password (it was probably totalgirl). It turns out that the website disables inactive accounts, so my penguin didn’t die after all.
I made a new account anyway and discovered that everything is still pretty much the same, albeit less crowded. The original places like the Plaza, the Ski Hill, the Cove, and the Snow Forts are in the same positions on the map — all still inviting eager penguins to have fun. The graphics are a tad more polished than I remember (those orange alert boxes!), but they’re just as colorful and vibrant as they were before.
Playing the game as a 20-year-old, I was disappointed that the magic just wasn’t there anymore. All the classic mini-games are way less entertaining than I remember them to be. I mean — you can only last for so long putting seaweed on pizza and herding Puffles into a makeshift pen before feeling the impulse to switch to a different tab. The highlight of my visit, however, was finding out that you can tip the iceberg (spoiler: there’s a dance floor underneath).
Thanks for the memories, Club Penguin. Though I may have neglected you after sixth grade, you’ll always hold a special place in my heart.