I don’t know about you, dear readers, but during the days of 2D Mario I’d be hard pressed to find someone better than myself. That claim isn’t verifiable , of course, because persistent leaderboards, friend lists, and gaming systems dependent on an internet connection to be fully functional didn’t exist during the time that I reigned supreme (“reigned supreme” in my mind, at least.) However, this is 2013 and almost everything except your toaster is connected to the world wide: Enter Cloudberry Kingdom, by Pwnee Studios. A platformer that pays homage to the power of the mushroom and that burly Italian mustache, distilled down to its essence while adding lasers, because… well… why not?
CBK comes in three flavors: Arcade, Story, and Free Play game modes. Every mode starts with the opportunity to create your own hero using the ingame props available to your character, so you can add a personal touch to all the deaths awaiting you. After allowing the game to randomly craft my would be hero, my little man wore a silver leotard, with a blue cape, super burley mustache, and an arrow through the head. The Story mode is the standard hero-saves-princess-from-evil-king affair, but it opens up to some of the corniest dialogue I’ve heard in a long time. Note that there isn’t anything wrong with this game being corny, as matter of fact it’s part of the game’s charm. A sample:
Princess: Seriously, bob? You call this a rescue?
Bob: Who said I was here for you Princess?
Princess: Umm, every Medieval fairy tale ever written?
King Kobbler: What a lovely reunion. Can I offer you some punch?
(Kobbler punches Bob off a cliff into the sea)
The story mode serves as a training ground for the more competitive arcade mode and introduces you to some of the game’s features. For example, as the hero you’ll be given the skill to double jump or a jetpack to give your jumps a boost or to hover in early rounds. As you progress you’ll be giving increasingly challenging and zany powers, such as starting with your hero bound to a wheel, in a minecart with a rocket strapped to it that won’t stop until it smashes into something, or you’ll find yourself continually growing and shrinking. These twists to the traditional platforming are only made more challenging due the perilous obstacles your hero faces. The game adds rotating chained maces, fireballs, pitfalls, falling surfaces, multidirectional fireballs that attack at every angle, and the aforementioned laser. These in themselves are nothing new however, the amount at which the game throws these obstacles at you is nothing short of insane at the higher difficulties.
But every gamer knows that a platformer’s soul is in how it feels, this goes double for a game that can be as ludicrously difficult as CBK. The controls for CBK feel very tight and responsive. Jumping has weight to it and feels right. The game’s input functions at a level consistent with the difficulty, so anytime I died repeatedly I was acutely aware it was my fault, not the game’s. To add insult to injury, any time you come to a stage where you are simply convinced there is no way to accomplish it successfully, the game has a feature which allows the AI to run through the stage perfectly. It’s like that one friend that would come to your house and play through all the difficult parts of your games and make it look effortless (though I wouldn’t know anything about that since I’m gangsta.)
The overall gameplay of CBK puts the participate in a zen-like focus while still managing to be exciting and intuitive. This is only furthered by the music they’ve added to the game. The electronica over heavy beats seems jarring at first when juxtaposed with the bright and silly art design of the game, however it helps you get into a rhythm and to carry your momentum when you need to make that next series of jumps count.
My only criticism of the game is its content. Granted, CBK has hundreds of levels in the story mode, thousands in arcade mode, and endless replayability in Free Play mode where you can configure your game to your liking. However, this game is a strict platformer and as such all you will be doing is run and jumping. For me, even with the insane difficult, it begins to lose it’s luster quickly. If you are a fan of platformer and you absolutely love running, jumping, ducking, and dodging until the cows come home then this is a game you need in your life. Rock on. However, if you are looking for a great and varied experience this isn’t the game for you. So, in part, this criticism is admittedly somewhat thin. It’s simply not my kind of game, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good game.
Overall, CBK is a sharp, fun, and bananas platformer. If you are looking for a game to break up lull of the summer gaming season, I could recommend much worst than CBK. What it does it, it does very well and adds some variety to the mix. Just don’t expect much if you aren’t in love with platformers. What you see is what you get and in this case, that’s perfectly fine.
Score: 7/10 – Above Average
Title: Cloudberry Kingdom
Developer: Pwnee Studios
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, WiiU, PC
We did receive a review copy of this game.