As names for heroes go, you have to admit that ‘Bob’ is not one of the all-time classics. A name that is perhaps better suited to a janitor rather than a superhero, yet ‘Bob’ is indeed the main character of the new platform game created by Pwnee Studios, recently released on multiple platforms for digital download.
Cloudberry Kingdom is a platform game with a unique feature – all of its levels are procedurally generated. This means that the game can adapt to your skill and should in theory tailor a game that is perfectly suited to your gaming skills, as well as one which is totally unique to you. In reality, this means an easy first 30 minutes or so with the game, before it gets REALLY difficult. The difficulty level does mean that moments of frustration are common, but Cloudberry Kingdom does also possess that elusive ‘one more go’ feel, and becomes very addicting as you traverse through the various levels.
In addition to the main story mode, the game also features an arcade mode and time trail options, in addition to an original mode which tasks you with assisting in creating levels yourself by selecting the background, enemy type, obstacles and other features, then letting the procedural creation engine do its work around the parameters you provide. At the core though every mode is more or less the same – you need to traverse a fairly short platform level with various unlocked abilities in order to progress to the next stage. In a move seemingly inspired by Little Big Planet, you can also dress Bob up in a variety of different capes and beards which is fun for all of 10 seconds, but contributes to the feeling that you are playing a game exclusive to you.
As we have already mentioned, Cloudberry Kingdom can be extremely tough at times, although it never feels unfair, probably because the individual stages are so short. One other gripe we have however is with the very sparse graphics and presentation in general. OK so we know this is an indie developed game and was part funded by Kickstarter, so it is never going to rival Super Mario Galaxy or Rayman Origins in terms of looks. However, Cloudberry Kingdom looks very much like a Flash game you may have played on your internet browser about 10 years ago. That isn’t to say its ugly, in fact the graphics are sharp throughout – they are just pretty uninspiring. The intro and story to the game are pretty laughable as well however, a highlight being that Bob looks completely different in the CG intro as he does in-game!
If you can get past the dull aesthetics and the occasional bout of frustration, there is a very decent little time waster of a game waiting for you. The procedurally generated levels is a nice hook for a different type of platformer, but in essence it is the well crafted controls and ‘one more go’ nature of the game which will hook you if you give it a chance. It’s also worth mentioning that if you own a Vita I would perhaps suggest holding out for that version, as this type of title always seems to work best on handhelds.
PS3 review copy provided by Ubisoft. Cloudberry Kingdom is available now for download on PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U and PC. It will be available later this year on Mac OS and Vita.