Starting out as a simple Kickstarter, Cloudberry Kingdom is a randomly generated side-scrolling platformer from Pwnee Studios. The main Hero Bob is on the rather usual platformer task of saving the princess from an evil king, Sounds simple enough until Bob finds out that between him and victory are countless ways to die. Pwnee Studios set out to build a game that is both challenging and fun but have they managed it?
Let’s find out and kick off the HOTs and NOTs.
Well Suited Presentation
Some games have confusing presentation. However, the slightly crazy cartoony style that is on display in Cloudberry Kingdom suits the game down to the ground. Cartoon violence, in the form of various ways to die, is certainly on show and it fits incredibly well with the fast-paced gameplay. The fun visuals make the strenuous and difficult levels playable as you are only being defeated by a smiling spike ball or an awesome looking laser beam. Alas you are still failing and failing though. On top of the visuals, the music occasionally adds to the tempo of levels forming an overall solid presentation.
As with all platformers and especially fast paced ones, perfect timing is needed to get past even the earlier levels in the campaign. The game starts off relatively simple but the direction of the title is soon obvious. At the beginning, simply dodging a few spike traps is enough to complete the levels but 20 levels in and the screen is slowly but surely starting to have more on the screen and distinctly less friendly things. From then on, more and more enemies and obstacles are out to kill Bob and his friends (or clones of Bob in other outfits).
At times it can almost seem like only sheer luck will get you through a level however this isn’t the case. At first glance the screen being practically full to the brim of ways to kill the player is daunting. Upon closer inspection, there is always a way through the level but finding it is easier said than done. Cloudberry Kingdom doesn’t punish gamers with an unsatisfying level of difficulty but easy is not a word that will be linked with the title.
One way Cloudberry Kingdom offers almost unlimited gameplay options is via the Freeplay mode. Players can custom make a level from all of the themes, choose from all of the potential traps and obstacles, give Bob upgrades such as wings or even turn him into a spaceship and much more. The ability is even there to random all of the choices if you are brave (or insane) enough. This way players can make the levels to whatever difficulty they want by choosing not to have for example lasers which always catch them out.
The customisation also extends to Bob himself. Players can simply tweak what Bob looks like via a clear menu at the player joining screen. While for single player customisation is by no means necessary it is extremely helpful for multiplayer. It is a easy way to distinguish who is who whilst bouncing and flying through the levels. The customisation is all in good humour with a variety of colours to choose from as well as hats ranging from the pope’s hat to afros.
Single player is fun, fast paced and entertaining but once you have had a taste of multiplayer, it is hard to go back. It takes the game to new heights when you have four of you sit around trying to somehow complete the levels simultaneously. This is by no means an easy feat. Having more people to potentially beat the level doesn’t always make the game easier; as the extra players help to further fill up the screen and make blocks fall away. Multiplayer is certainly an experience not to be missed as it does make the game that bit more enjoyable.
Spot On Controls
Many platformers have slightly loose controls. Mario games for instance have no need of such tight and precise controls as Cloudberry Kingdom. It is pleasing that Pwnee Studios has put in the time and effort to home the controls in. It removes frustration from failing when it was the game’s fault and not the player’s. Other games have failed at making their controls as precise and it leaves the gamer disgruntled with the feeling of being cheated out of a potential victory, but thankfully players only have themselves to blame in Cloudberry Kingdom.