In the recent years there have been many games that have taken on Super Meat Boy in an attempt to emulate the short bursts of high intensity (and high difficulty), found in its adrenaline pumping platform levels. Cloudberry Kingdom is the latest game to take on the mantle and it certainly has a challenge on its hand to compete in an ever growing genre.
Cloudberry Kingdom follows the story of Bob, an ageing hero who is called into action to save his princess. It sounds like a traditional tale but in this universe it’s a highly ironic and twisted take on the story. That said - the best thing to do is put the hokum of story to one side and concentrate on the levels.
In Story mode you make your way through seven chapters which are each split into around forty individual levels. Each level is a combination of pits, moving platforms, fireballs, and spikes and swinging wrecking balls. Throughout the chapters the basic ingredients don’t change too much put it is the placement and change to Bob that brings in the much needed variety.
Starting as ‘Classic’ Bob who can run and jump, every ten stages he changes into something else. The changes in Bob are numerous and each of them alters how he handles and the approach you need to take to a level. Some of the more inventive versions of our hero see him strapped to a rolling wheel, wearing a jetpack or simply putting on weight which greatly affects his jump height. These constant changes add variety and keep the stages feeling fresh as you progress.
It’s fair to say that the story mode levels don’t really get going until you have cleared the first world. From then on it’s a full on gauntlet of pixel perfect jumps between lasers and spikes. Some levels will see you race through first time while others will have you stumped for try after try. This can be frustrating but you rarely feel like there is no way to beat a level and you’ll always be pulled back to try and squeeze through. If it does get too much you can exchange gems found for a few helpful features such as slowing down the level or showing a route through the danger on the screen while you play.
As well as the story mode there are a number of other options to try. Time Crisis pits you against an ever decreasing clock in small three – five second focused levels. The aim being to see how far you can get before time runs out. Another option of note is the free play mode where the much touted random level generator kicks in the most. Here you can set a number of different options such as level length, difficulty and type of Bob and the game will continually generate new levels for you to test yourself against. There are also a number of avatar customisation options and even the ability to have other players join the chaos.
It’s worth saying, that this isn’t a game for everyone. While you can lower the difficulty in the randomly created levels you are going to need a serious amount of skill and some super quick reflexes to get the most out of the game. Cloudberry Kingdom has never claimed to be anything other than game that will test you. If you enjoy the challenge of games like Spelunky and Super Meat Boy then this should be right up your street.
Overall, despite being a little uneven in places, Cloudberry Kingdom is a great example of the challenging platformer. Once the initial levels are out of the way it becomes and addictive mix of twitch gameplay and searching for Bob sized gaps in the many dangers you face. It’s well worth your attention and we can’t wait to see what the studio comes up with next.