I’m a hardcore platformer gamer. My first gaming experience was with Super Mario Bros. on the NES as a wee lad, and Super Meat Boy has already cracked my top ten games of all time list. So when Cloudberry Kingdom touted procedurally generated levels of pain and suffering, I was chomping at the bit to get some hands on time with it.
Cloudberry Kingdom is a gauntlet, creating a random obstacle course of death at the beginning of each level. The level creation is really impressive, not once was I met with an insurmountable level or broken stages, but instead I was constantly caught off guard just as I thought I found my groove. For that reason alone, Cloudberry Kingdom should be applauded, this is the platformer that keeps on giving. The navigation of these death traps waiting to happen on the other hand were far less satisfying.
Despite the constantly changing levels, my strategy to completing them never changed once. Sitting at the starting gate for a few seconds, I simply hit forward on the stick as I ran, jumped, and ran some more until I made it to the end. While this may have been fine a few years ago, I couldn’t help but feel that there should have been some nuance to the control, ala Super Meat Boy‘s amazing wall-jump and timing mechanics.
Developer: Pwnee Studios
Platform: PC/PS3/Vita/360/Wii U
While the layout and challenge of each level may change constantly, the stark graphical design of Cloudberry Kingdom does not. This looks like a game that belongs on an iOS device, with less than detailed characters and flimsy environments. The presentation runs the risk of becoming far too repetitive, but thankfully the gameplay manages to save the game and turn it into an addiction waiting to happen.
The story mode of Cloudberry Kingdom gives you unlimited lives and unlimited restarts, as our hero Bob is off to save the princess. Along the way you will unlock and play as new heroes, each with a different ability that significantly changes up the gameplay. Inverted gravity instead of jumping? You got it. Limited jetpack usage to traverse the stage? No worries. It adds an element of discovery that keeps the game feeling fresh and exciting, even if the environments and settings do not.
Outside of the story mode are several Arcade options that will keep platform junkies busy for days. Setting out with fifteen lives, players essentially try to run through as many levels as they can before they bite the bullet. This was by far my favourite mode, with the new abilities such as jetpacks or pogo sticks being thrown in at certain intervals to really mess with your groove. The developers have also included a Free Play mode, which allows you to tweak a myriad of options to create you very own course of death and export it for your friends. While that’s an awesome feature, apparently it’s only available on the PC version of the game. Four-player co-op is included for fun with friends, but it doesn’t really make the experience any better or worse.
Cloudberry Kingdom should have been the ultimate game in my books, but unfortunately it struggles to create an identity for itself. While the tech is certainly there, the lack of direction on the presentation and audio fronts stop it from really standing out. The game doesn’t look or sound terrible, but it doesn’t do anything to really capture your attention off the bat either.