Pen Pen TriIcelon is a very weird game. We're not talking about the normal sort of quirky weird either, every aspect of this character racing game nearly oozes peculiarities. So does this zest for the bizarre make Pen Pen TriIcelon worth playing? Unfortunately it does not.
In Pen Pen TriIcelon the player is tasked with racing different Pen Pen's (little penguin-esque creatures) through four different themed race courses. The twist is that each race is divided up into three gameplay styles, sliding, running, and swimming. In the sliding and swimming portions, you control the Pen Pen by pressing "A" to get them to push off the ground or water and then steering them through the terrain. There's some initial strategy to be had with this mechanic, as one can't press "A" too fast or wait too long between presses or else the forward momentum will be lost. Unfortunately once the learning curve is passed in these sections (the running portions are short affairs where one has only to guide the Pen Pen around and charge on occasion), which takes maybe half an hour, the game's biggest faults, a lack of depth and content, are exposed.
Once the player has mastered the controls, winning races quickly becomes old hat. Unlike most racing games of this sub-genre, there aren't any items to use and shortcuts in the courses are few and far between. The computer AI is also, at its most challenging, stupid. This fault, coupled with there only being four courses and few noticeable differences between racers, gives this game almost no replay value whatsoever. At best you have a game that last for one night, two if you stretch it out and buy outfits for the racers (a fun proposition, I know).
All that's a shame to considering the games technical aspects aren't too shabby. Graphics wise this is on par with anything else that the Dreamcast launched with, and the music and sound effects are what one would expect of the genre, forgettable but occasionally enjoyable. Character designs are where the game really shines as the pen pens and course owners are, for the most part, fun or at the very least memorable.
Multiplayer wise, Pen Pen TriIcelon is the equivalent of a parlor trick. It can be brought out from time to time to surprise friends, but after fifteen to twenty minutes, you'll put it back and most likely not speak of it again.
There's something to be said for any game that tries to be wholly unique in a tired genre, which Pen Pen TriIcelon certainly does. Unfortunately for the Pen Pens though, even more can be said about what their game doesn't do and that, when all is said and done, could fill a book.