A Game Review by Greg Dabkey
Game – Cloudberry Kingdom
Version – Wii U eShop
ESRB Rating: ‘T’ – Teen
Release Date: 8/1/2013
Obtained – Review copy courtesy of Ubisoft/Pwnee Games
The kingdom of Cloudberry is in trouble. A retired hero named Bob returns to the scene. Will he be able to restore the kingdom and win the heart of the princess? Hey it’s worth a shot!
The story behind this game is somewhat ridiculous. Ridiculously funny that is. A princess is hanging out in her tower when Kobbler shows up with a magical orb. Bob the retired hero returns to the kingdom and their is a struggle of power between the three of them. Bob and Kobbler have a brief fight (pretty humorous as Bob says he has no neck as he’s being strangled) and Kobbler throws him down the tower. There he must journey back to the top to rescue the princess who was kidnapped. Okay, so the story isn’t anything special or different, but it does have plenty of humor in it and is entertaining to watch the cutscenes. They also aren’t terribly long either, but it’s definitely worth watching.
Gameplay & Controls
This game has some very interesting gameplay mechanics. Everything is customized to the player which is pretty great to see. The game randomly generates levels based on your previous level and how well you did. It also is generating the next level while you play the current one, so when you complete it you are basically instantly loaded into the next level. Oh silly me, I didn’t even describe what type of game this is. Okay, think about the hardest Super Mario level you’ve played. Now multiply the difficulty by say 10 times, and trim the level length so it’s a little longer than a Warioware microgame. It’s a platforming game with some short sequenced levels with up to dozens of hazards. The entry levels are still very easy to get you into the game with only a few things to dodge or jump over. But if you continue long enough the game will throw some exciting challenges your way that really scratch your head how you will pass through the sequence.
Every jump will eventually be on a specific schedule so that you can navigate around the hazards at a particular pace. With each level being different, some will require you to sprint, others to do a semi-jog type of run and others must be slowly or carefully done. There are even levels that mix up those three paces so you will rush then have to come to a complete stop to go slowly through a part of the level. Some of the levels are timed with a wall of spikes that chases you to the end of the level. With the random levels you never know what type of room awaits next. There will be levels with next to no floors and you just bounce on enemies, others will have lasers all over the place, and others are just filled with chained balls and/or fire arms. Or even some combination of everything. There’s a lot more hazards then the ones I listed. If you are having trouble with the level, you can send a CPU through the level, or have an orb show you the path through the level or finally activate slow motion so you can find the route and complete it a little easier.
The controls are also very solid for this game. The screen is also duplicated on the GamePad, so you just use that if you prefer the off-TV play. Basically just use A to jump and Y to open the door at the end of the level. There are at least 10 different heroes that can be used and each has a unique ability. There’s also boxed Bob who can only move forward while midair, or Double Jump Bob who can jump twice, or even Bouncy Bob that uses a pogo stick at all times (so he’s always/constantly jumping). There’s Mini Bob who can jump higher, and Fat Bob that is large and can barely jump. So each hero is controlled differently, and even in story mode you will get to use each hero for at least five to ten levels and either switch back to classic Bob (no unique ability) or to a different hero. A few of the obscure types include Phase Bob who continues to alternate in size between Mini Bob and Fat Bob, Wheelie Bob who is strapped into a wheel (so it makes it difficult to stop suddenly) and Jetpack Bob who can use a jetpack for about five seconds (until he lands on the ground or an enemy). Each has controls that handle differently and you never know when you are about to be using them since it load a level and suddenly your form changes, so the game keeps you on your toes. There’s several others that you will come across in addition to the ones I listed.
This game offers four modes and definitely worth noting them. The main mode is Story Mode which I believe has set levels that aren’t randomly generated. It’s divided into seven chapters of twenty or more levels each with the difficulty gradually getting harder within each chapter of levels. I believe at the time of this writing I am on level 119 (overall total) and in chapter four. The next mode to describe is free play. This is where the game allows complete customization and randomization. You set the initial amount of hazards with a scroll bar per hazard and the game allows at least two screens worth of customization. You can even just hit Y to randomize all the settings on the page. After this, you begin the level. If you manage to complete it, the game will generate a new level with either more or less hazards depending on how well you did. You can play with up to four players total to go through. Finally, if you think it’s impossible, the game will show you that it is completely do-able. A CPU will run through the level and show you the route and timing needed to complete the level. This isn’t exclusive to Free Play either, it works in Story, and Arcade modes.
Arcade mode is broken into four parts, Escalation, Time Crisis, Hero Rush and Hybrid Rush. Escalation is similar to the standard story mode, but you have a limited amount of lives. You can gain lives by collecting twenty-five crystals (there’s about 10-15 per level). Basically play through as many levels as possible. Time Crisis you have a countdown clock, and with each coin you collect it adds a second onto the clock. It continuously runs and carries over to the next level. If you die, the coins you collected stay collected, so you will need to minimize your deaths as you run through the random levels. Hero Rush is similar to Time Crisis, but your hero changes with each level. At the end of each level, you see an icon of the next hero you will be is shown above the door, and the time limit remains from the previous level and is increased with coin collection. Hybrid Rush is a combination of Time Crisis and Hero Rush, but with a twist. You will get two of the hero’s powers, so for instance you might be a Mini-Wheelie Bob, or be Boxed Bob and Jetpack Bob, so you will have two powers to use at once while collecting coins to expand the time to get to the door. All modes allow up to four players with local multiplayer, and your hero Bob has complete customization with such features as: different colors, hats, facial hair, cape, with a number of different settings to change. These character designs do not affect your controls.
Visuals & Sound
If you are looking for realism or somewhat clean visuals, this isn’t the game for you. The characters are cartoony and simple, Bob even jokes he doesn’t have a neck! I like the art style and find it fun and entertaining to watch. Sure the levels are simple backgrounds and obstacles are not cleanest, but I really love how everything flows together. You can be in an ice world and the fire arms will still be swirling around preventing you from getting to that door. I do like how it switches up the backgrounds and settings. You’ll be in a cave set of levels for five or ten levels, then suddenly into a series of sky levels for short while then suddenly into the frozen ice world. There is no set type where one is always hard or always easy so it provides a nice change of space and continues to switch up the level styles.
While the sounds are simple and even somewhat similar to Mario, such as the jump sound and collecting coins, but it’s such standard and fitting sound for the movement and collection. The door sound is also a simple door closing sound. The voice work during the cut scenes is very well done and such a fitting tone for the characters. My absolute favorite is the soundtrack. If you watched any of the trailers for this game, that is the legit music you will hear while playing. A fast paced electronic/techno style that I absolutely love. It gives you that energy to want to rush through the level to advance to the next one. Each track is timed, so you will hear it for a little while and then the next song in the playlist begins to play. So it will switch in the middle of levels or between levels depending on the length of the song. Sometimes there is a moment of silence, then the next song will kick in momentarily.
Cloudberry Kingdom is an excellent platforming game that kicks it into high gear and will challenge any fan of the platforming genre. With customization of the character to different abilities to randomly generated levels and even four player simultaneous local multiplayer it can be fun for players of all skill levels. If you wonder where Mario’s really lost levels are, then look no farther as even the most difficult levels are beatable and at any time as a CPU can show you the way. With essentially infinite levels and combinations you will have an infinitely fun time playing alone or with friends. Sadly there is no online multiplayer, but I have heard that the developer has a planned patch to add in online leaderboards, so you will be able to compete with your friends online for bragging of rights of the highest score. I’d recommend this game to fans of the platforming genre, and even those that seek a thorough challenging game. This game will bring out many emotions, as things can get insanely crazy.
Final Score: 10 out of 10
+ Off TV play
+ custom difficulty
+ custom/random levels
+ multiple game modes
+ different heroes
+ incredible soundtrack
+ local multiplayer
- no online modes or Miiverse integration (online leaderboards are tentatively planned)
Some videos I took of the gameplay: Story, Story + Free Play, Free Play + Arcade, Arcade + More story