GAME NAME: Game & Wario
DEVELOPER(S): Pwnee Studios
PLATFORM(S): Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360, PC
RELEASE DATE(S): 1 August 2013
At first glance, the name of this title suggests some sort of RPG, perhaps an adventure game even, however, that’s as far from the truth as you could get. Cloudberry Kingdom is like the illegitimate lovechild between Super Mario Bros. and Super Meat Boy. It’s a 2D platformer that will push your tolerance for pain and frustration to the next level and then some.
Our hero, Bob, has been tasked with saving the princess (who’s bored out of her mind) from the clutches of an evil and rather mental King that can’t help but make everything he says a pun. As with all these smaller games, the story is very tongue and cheek, but don’t let that fool you into avoiding the game altogether. If you’re a 2D platform fan, you’re in for a treat with Cloudberry Kingdom.
Like Super Meat Boy before this, the campaign provides you with unlimited lives and instant respawns, and seeing as the levels are sadistically difficult to progress through, this is a good thing. Your only weapon is your ability to jump and so pounce on enemies, or, in the vein of level progression, jumping allows you to make your way from one platform to the next while dodging rotating flames (like those found in Super Mario Bros.), lasers and other forms of certain death. One touch and your hero turns to dust and it’s back to the beginning of the stage. Speaking of stages, every 40 stages or so, your scenery will change from the Sea, to Hills, to Forest, to clouds and so forth, so there’s always something that keeps things fresh.
What makes this stand out from other platformers is your character abilities, abilities that vary and change throughout the campaign. You start off with Classic Bob whose only ability is to jump; then you’ll move on to Jetman Bob, Jetman Bob comes equipped with a jetpack; and later Gravity Bob, he can jump from ceiling to the floor as you would have in VVVVVV on the 3DS. There are several other abilities, but I’d rather you experience those for yourself as there as some serious “WTF were the developers smoking?” moments. Keep in mind that when an ability is activated, everything else is removed. So for instance, Jetman bob can only use his jetpack and so cannot jump.
If the 280 campaign levels are too much to manage and you need a break, you can sink your teeth into Arcade mode. Here you can select Escalation, Time Crisis, Hero Rush and Hybrid Rush game types. I found Time Crisis to be loads of fun as you’re provided with a mere 15 seconds to complete as many stages as you can. By grabbing collectable treasures on your path, it will replenish some of your time; it’s a frantic race from start to end. If you’re a hardcore platformer, you’ll be glad to know that the deathly difficult platforming does not end here.
Developers, Pwnee Studios, has invested much other their time working on an in-depth Freeplay mode that uses something called ‘The Algorithm’. What happens here is that the AI gets to know your skill level and supposedly creates levels from scratch that consistently challenge your skills. This means that Cloudberry Kingdom could, theoretically, last for you for all eternity. If you don’t like the randomness of it all however, you can setup a custom stage that you believe suits your abilities. The choice is yours.
Looking at the Wii U version, there’s not much else different from that of the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 versions, other than being able to play it on the Gamepad. Unfortunately, there is also absolutely no online integration. Even something as simple as a leaderboard only refers to local high scores, which is a shame (the leaderboards in Bit.Trip Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien agree). What you might be glad to hear is that up to four players can play at one time and that the heroes are all completely customisable; I settled on a ‘Raiden’ look-alike from Mortal Kombat. In the Wii U version, you’ll also receive a mushroom hat that resembles Toad from the Super Mario games.
What it’s missing aside, what Cloudberry Kingdom does offer is pure 2D platforming that will literally last you a lifetime and to me that’s just… err… super. I blame the evil King for that.