Cloudberry Kingdom is a game by Pwnee Studios and was created by a two-man team as an arcade game for several platforms. Cloudberry Kingdom got a lot of their fan base through the internet with several test videos showing off the game in its early stages. This game is one of many projects funded through the site Kickstarter, gaining around $3000 more than they needed within the allotted time, but was it worth the investment?
Cloudberry Kingdom is a procedurally generated platformer with algorithms and AI that will generate levels based on the player’s amount of skill and how well they do within the game. The player’s “level” is stored on the game and the AI makes levels based around that, as well as adding in random factors. They say, however, no matter how high someone’s level is or how hard a level is designed, no level is impossible.
The Main Protagonist of the game is a short, round and mid-aged hero by the name of Bob, an unlikely hero who constantly refers to how his boredom of jumping around and should have retired. Bob has a rather plain character design, wearing green clothes and a cape, a true costume for a hero. Actor Kevin Sorbo, famous from his role in the old Hercules: The Legendary Journey series, though younger players may know him from Andromeda, brings some likeability to the character as fans of old and new will recognise his iconic voice.
The Villain of this game is a rather overweight man and needs to go on a well-deserved diet; his persona strikes something a bit more evil than how he acts. Throughout the game he spurts out puns and jokes trying to demeanour Bob at every turn, but any humour that was meant in this kind of falls flat as the jokes are rather stale and overused in today’s era. Simply from looking at and listening to him you can tell this is the villain of the game, even without the whimpering moments he has later on in the game.
Now anyone that has played any Mario Game would know that the hero needs to rescue the princess, well same goes for this title and it’s the main objective within the story mode. The Princess is a short woman dressed in fine clothing, but her looks can be deceiving. The Princess has a very sour attitude and seems to always get her way, making her a stronger character than that of the evil Villain, though she is a less likable one as she is slightly irritating in the way she expects perfection and even berates Bob at his less than stellar performance.
Through all modes of the game, you have the ability to play co-operatively with up to 4 players as well as customising your character, from his headgear, colour scheme, facial hair or even making your character completely invisible for added difficulty. These customization options are very welcome, as having several characters on the screen in a game where every obstacle can mean your death can get very hectic.
The Arcade mode allows you to choose from different modes like; Escalation, which starts off easy and gradually scales to the masochistic level of difficulty, Time crisis, where the player must complete as many levels as they can within the time limit and Rush modes where you have a time limit and your ability changes with each level. Within Escalation and Time Crisis you can set the ability you have for those levels. Within Arcade mode, the difficulty is reset at level 1 and progressively gets harder, accounting for how efficiently you completed the previous levels.
Free Play Mode
Free play mode allows you set almost everything within a level, choosing the Location to play on like the level surrounded by the sea, set in the clouds or within a castle. You can set the power the players have from being tiny to being in a box, you can alter the difficulty which ranges from training to hardcore and finally the length of the level from a short course which is the size of one screen or a long course which is around 7 screen sizes. This adds more playability to the game as you can design your own levels to train and test friends, you can also save the level designs to your HDD which is very handy.
Throughout the game, the player is given several different powers and abilities. Classic is the character as normal, while Jetman is where the player uses a jetpack, Double Jump allows the player to jump in mid-air. The size of the player is decreased using Tiny bob and Wheelie attaches your player to a disc allowing you to roll through the level. Then you have Spaceship, where the player must control a jet like ship through the level or Hero in a Box, where the player can only move by jumping. Bouncy is where the player jumps whenever they are on ground sort of like a pogo stick and Rocketbox is where the player is always moving forward inside of a minecart with jets. Fat Bob, so comically named is where the player’s size is increased while Phase Bob enables the player’s size to change periodically. Finally and without further ado, Gravity Bob; this is where jumping changes whether you walk on the ground or on the ceiling, reversing gravity.
The main story mode consists of 7 chapters; each chapter containing a total 40 levels each. It starts off pretty easy, just to ease you into the game, with very little In the way of a tutorial. The only guidance I saw was that it told you to press X to go to the next level; everything else was trial and error. More and more traps are added after every level making the game increasingly harder as you get deeper into it. You are given a record of your overall performance after every tenth level, this shows how many deaths you have accrued, jewels collected and overall time taken to complete.
The game starts off with a simple cutscene, setting up the story and main objective. The protagonist Bob, whilst failing in his first attempt to save the princess, must start his journey across several lands and platforms to eventually try again at saving the princess. The background within this cutscene also seems to correlate to what background will be used for the proceeding levels, as they were all situated around the ocean.
After completing chapter 2 you are greeted with another cutscene, keeping with the style of the last one. The game continues to try to add humour to its characters it either tries too hard or too little, any humour that was meant to be there just doesn’t seem to cut it, though for a younger audience it may be suitable. After each chapter that you complete you will be greeted to another cutscene this splits up each of the 40 levels with a bit of eye candy, some more of Kevin Sorbo and finally resting your poor thumb.
You sometimes get certain handicaps and special abilities, from which I listed earlier, when entering a new set of 10 levels, these powers seem rather random in the way they are distributed to the player, but no matter the power you are given the levels are designed around the ability currently possessed. Players may find these powers annoying and unnecessary being used in the story mode as they can detach you from the feel of the game as the powers are never explained or given a reason why you gain them.
Once hitting level 140, the game gave me the ability to pilot a Spaceship, making the game feel like an old school space shoot ’em up, like Humans Must Answer or Ikaragua, with the flyer going at a certain speed at all times, only slowing when you hold left or speeding up with the A button. The difficulty in driving this ship can be unnerving at the start but you get used to it like any other mechanic in the game.
The difficulty within the Story Mode seems to correlate to your player level, so starting this mode first makes it very easy in the beginning, starting you off with no obstacles and gradually adding in new enemies and hazards as you complete the levels. The game’s difficulty ramps up rather fast after the first 2 chapters, with deaths steadily increasing in turn, with this in mind stopping the game for a while and coming back can seem daunting as the difficulty will be the same when you return.
The main theme of the levels are that they seem to have their own flow to them, a certain speed or strategy that will allow you to complete the level; some can be rushed through, while others require you to stand still for a second for all the platforms to become aligned. Sometimes you may feel that the game has become easier as the random generation can allow for 3 levels in a row to be made in a way that allows you to just hold forward to complete them.
The game has a very reminiscent feel to that of the Bullet Hell genre like the game Bullet Heaven on gaming sites, where the screen is filled with projectiles and enemies that want to kill you and only leaving a tiny space of security. Coupled with all the projectiles and moving hazards, the game also tips it hat to Super Meat Boy, as the levels can be very similar at times especially when the ceilings and floors are covered with spikes and compacting the space between these two death zones.
The music in the game is very similar, keeping a slight techno/trance feel, though not adding to the story or background within the levels the music does keep with the feeling of the game and it’s genre, pumping you up to try harder and complete the level you are on. The name of the song and artist appears in the lower left corner of the screen, allowing players to find their favourite song easily which I feel is a good feature to have.
The graphical style of the game is very consistent, keeping a rather refined cartoony look with child friendly obstacles with faces on them. Appealing to more of a younger audience with its design, this game is not child specific as an adult could find just as much fun within the game’s setting. The backgrounds are varied, consisting of 6 different locations from a level in the hills at night to one in a frozen forest.
The controls in the game are very simplistic, I played the game on the Xbox 360 and I was only utilising the left analogue stick and the A button to go through the levels and X to go to the next, this makes it easy to learn the game and hone your skills, but leaves little else for the player to do. It is not recommended to play this game for too long as well, as pressing the A button over and over again can really start to hurt your thumb. The game doesn’t have a tutorial so these buttons must either be learned in the options or through experimenting with the controller.
If you press Y during gameplay you can bring up a sort of store to buy in-game items, like seeing the computer do the level for you, showing an on-screen path through the level or slowing down time. These items can greatly improve your chances of completing a level; however the path onscreen is vastly improved with the slow motion power as you can follow it exactly. This is a good addition as it allows the player to almost skip a level they are having difficulty with. The hints cost 5 jewels for the computer to show you how it’s done, 40 for a path on the level and 20 for slow motion, though these prices get more expensive as you get further into the levels. The jewels can only be gained through picking them up in the levels, so there is a finite amount of times you can use them.
Overall, Cloudberry Kingdom is a very well made game for one that was funded on Kickstarter and made by only two people, giving hints to other games like Super Meat Boy and Bullet hell. It is a rather entertaining game, if you can get past the difficulty the game possesses, younger audiences will most likely skip this due to it being over the top with the amount of memorising and training required. What it lacks in story and comical effect it more than makes up for in multiplayer options and challenges, bringing competition between friends to new highs.
I give Cloudberry Kingdom a 4/5, it tries very hard to be something new whilst still trying to maintain a familiarity with players, as well as having a rather long story mode to boot allowing long hours of gameplay, if frustrating due to its difficulty.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.