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Penny’s Big Breakaway


Release Date

ESRB Rating




Bob Hoose

Game Review

Every once in a while, a game comes along that mixes new ideas with fun elements from the past to create something unexpected. Something a little different. The new 3-D platformer Penny’s Big Breakaway fits that bill.

Like many a ‘90s 3-D platformer, Penny’s story is fairly silly and (ironically) one-dimensional. Penny happens to be an average nobody with some pretty good yo-yo skills. One day she happens upon a flyer advertising a big talent tryout. But this isn’t just any audition: This one happens to be for King Eddie’s famous gala, a prime showcase indeed. And it just so happens that Penny has come upon a “cosmic string” that makes her yo-yo twirling pretty super-duper.

The problem is, when Penny steps up for her tryout, that string also makes her yo-yo sentient—and the toy decides to jump on the king and, well, shred all his clothes except for his heart-covered boxers. Next thing you know, Penny is a felon running for her life. And the red-faced King Eddie sends all his penguin minions out to find her and lock her away for, oh, 10,000 years. So Penny must use her powered up yo-yo to traverse time and space, along with many, many platforms, to prove her innocence.

The story and its characters may be cute and fairly pedestrian, but the gameplay is where this title shines. And it all centers on tons of acrobatic platform jumping and oodles of yo-yo skills. In fact, Penny can’t really do much more than jog about and hop on her own. But her yo-yo can help her dash; sail down ziplines; somersault around; grab grapplehook points from anywhere (including the air itself); spin about like an enemy-bashing whirlybird; and more. Penny can even ride the careening spinning disks to get from here to there.

The unique control system takes a bit of getting used to. On my console controller I had to use a combination of stick, trigger and button mashes to command the yo-yo through its offensive strikes and grapple-dash-leap moves. But with a bit of practice (and a few errant dashes off elevated ledges), the rhythms become more intuitive. And with time, gamers will learn to cross seemingly impassible open spaces with strung-together yo-yo moves. 

Along with all the 3-D platforming, hazard avoidance and the bopping of onrushing small enemies, Penny also careens into a series of big boss battles, including a yo-yoing fight with a puppet version of herself.

This is a single-player game that doesn’t require an online connection to play. 


Penny’s Big Breakaway is a very active, colorful and kid-friendly game. It’s visually similar to past Mario and Sonic titles. Not only are the visuals fun and pleasing, but the soundtrack is enjoyable, too, harkening back (at least to this gamer) to Dreamcast favorites of years gone by.

As mentioned, gamers will find a fairly steep game mechanics learning curve. But if they need help, hitting the pause menu can refresh their memory on possible moves. There are lots of collectables to be found and to extra levels to reveal.


You won’t find any visual or verbal content issues. But the platforming areas and boss fights can be difficult. Younger gamers may even need some help from an adult. The constant onrush of tiny penguins can feel frustrating, too, as you’re learning to master the yo-yo controls.

Like other 3-D platformers, it can initially seem a bit difficult to properly judge the right leaping distance from one moving platform to another. But again, over time your brain and timing adjust.


Penny’s Big Breakaway mixes old school 3-D platforming with some very fun game mechanics and challenges. It’s designed for the yo-yo in all of us.

Bob Hoose

After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.