Cloudberry Kingdom is a new platforming game from Pwnee Studios. It started life as a Kickstarter project, but it’s been picked up by Ubisoft and is now hitting every platform it can. I played it on the Wii U, which works really well because of its lovely D-pad and its off-screen play option. If you’re in the mood for pure 2D platforming and enjoy your games a little on the sadistically difficult side (think Super Meat Boy) then this is the game to try. Just don’t expect anything epic – it’s a short sharp experience.
What You Need to Know
Cloudberry Kingdom stars Bob, a running, jumping kind of guy. He is trying to save a princess, and must jump his way across the kingdom to get to her. The mechanics are simple – run, jump and duck are your only controls – and levels are short and to the point. Bob has a number of power-ups and modes including a jetpack, a double-jump wing, tiny Bob and fat Bob. He also becomes rolling Bob, in an interesting new platforming idea.
All the levels in Cloudberry Kingdom are procedurally generated, which means they’re created on the fly by the game. This is pretty amazing as it means there are a limitless variety of levels, although they start feeling similar after a while anyway. The game ensures that there is a path through the level and gives you some hints about the perfect path by placing crystals for you to collect. Because there is a perfect path the game can allow you to reach a zen-like one-with-Bob state where you’re navigating through ridiculous mazes of saws, moving platforms, laser beams, floor spikes, spinning fire arms and balls and chains.
What’s the Same?
The obvious comparison game is Super Meat Boy. Cloudberry Kingdom is simpler in mechanics as Bob can only run and jump, and he always runs from left to right. Bob can also jump very specific heights, but it feels more like he has five jump heights rather than infinite different heights, which is a good thing.
You’ll Enjoy Cloudberry Kingdom if You Liked
Super Meat Boy – If you enjoyed the precision needed to play the later levels.
Rayman Origins – If you enjoyed the speed run challenges.
Trials – If you enjoy playing over and over to get it perfect.
What I Liked
- 5.) Silly, light cut-scenes
- 4.) Great soundtrack of mostly electronic music
- 3.) Silky smooth frame rate and very responsive controls
- 2.) Good variety in mechanics, all of which are tightly tuned
- 1.) The feeling of navigating an impossible looking room and escaping by the skin of your teeth after dying 73 times
The wing levels, where Bob can do a double-jump, were my favourite because they were more about platforms and free jumping than navigating traps. Other good moments are when you get through a level with a perfect run on the first go.
What I Didn’t Like
- 3.) Dying 73 times in one level
- 2.) If you don’t take the perfect line you sometimes cannot finish the stage – that is, every level feels like a speed run, and there’s no room for exploration or secrets, something I really enjoy in platforming games.
- 1.) After 150 levels they all started feeling the same. This was only about two hours in.
Least favourite moment
Because of the random nature of the levels, there is the odd level generated that is just much harder than others, which can be frustrating. Fortunately you can spend crystals to see how to get through the level, but you still have to execute flawlessly to get through.
Arcade mode gives you a set number of lives and challenges you to get through as many levels as possible.
Free mode allows you to set the various parameters of the level (such as power-up, or length) and then play the generated level.
Up to four player co-operative play and up to “masochistic” difficulty level, for real on-screen mayhem.
The Bottom Line
Tight, challenging, arcade-like platformer with randomly sadistic tendencies and a fast burn-out.
Cloudberry Kingdom was reviewed on the Wii U.