Don't let the cute name and colorful box art fool you. Cloudberry Kingdom is a game that's so hard, you'll wish you've never played it… except you're going to keep on playing it anyway.
What Is It?
Developer Pwnee Studios calls Cloudberry Kingdom "the platformer to end all platformers." Right off the bat, it's quite easy to see that most of its gameplay mechanics were inspired by other classic sidescrollers like Super Mario Bros. and Contra mostly due to its very fluid controls and extreme challenge.
The game features a variety of modes, including the obligatory story mode that gives the main character Bob a sense of purpose. Like most platformers featuring an unattractive main character, the object of the game is to go through world after world hoping to save the princess, who just happens to be quite the obnoxious little lady.
Why Should I Care?
But it's not the story that'll pull players into the game. The real purpose of the story mode is to wean players into the kind of gameplay they can expect from Cloudberry Kingdom. Upon first booting the game up, players will be greeted by a startup screen that just happens to show Bob navigating through treacherous map after map. Fortunately for newcomers, the action in the game doesn't immediately begin so hectic.
Cloudberry Kingdom does a good job of easing the player into the action. The first few levels in arcade and story modes are rather easy, but serve to introduce concepts of running and jumping. As players get used to the game though, new gameplay features are introduced to keep things fresh.
Eventually Bob will be able to double jump, float with a jetpack, roll across the screen suspended in a wheel, run around levels in small or big sizes, and a slew of other things. Bob even enters spaceship mode, and the game becomes an incredibly hard sidescrolling space shooter.
The basic level design is pretty standard for a side-scroller. There are collectible gems that increase your score and thus earn you extra lives, platforms suspended in mid-air, enemies and traps along the way, and an exit all the way to the right of the level. It's the journey to the exit with the powerups Bob has (or doesn't have) that really give the game its flair, especially when the game forces you to get to the exit as fast as you can in levels featuring a line of blades slowly but surely also making its way to the end.
Both the story and arcade modes feature a good amount of challenge, but even harder than these two is the game's Time Attack mode, which actually require the user to pick up coins scattered across the stage in order to add much needed time on the clock to finish.
Each mode can also be played cooperatively, but as players may have learned from the New Super Mario Bros. games, that doesn't necessarily make things easier or more enjoyable.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
These gameplay features along with the fact that each level is randomly generated and caters to your gameplay style and skill level really make the game a joy to play. Each level can take anywhere from 10 seconds to excruciating minutes or even hours of play due to all the dying players will be doing, and the best part of it all is that it'll never be to the fault of the game's design. The game's controls are so precise that it's up to pure skill from hand-eye coordination and reflexive dexterity to truly be successful in Cloudberry Kingdom, and it is because of this that players will spend hours upon hours playing despite being frustrated.
On the technical side of things, while the game doesn't look all that impressive, it doesn't look bad either. The visual style is very reminiscent of when Flash games ruled the internet and titles such as the zany Alien Hominid thrived. On the other side, the sound is rather impressive. Whether it's a big deal to players or not, the buff Fabio-like Kevin Sorbo of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Andromeda fame voices Bob. His wife, Sam Sorbo, and Martin Olson who voices the Lord of Evil in Cartoon Network's Adventure Time play the roles of the Princess and King Kobbler, respectively. In addition to that, the trance music mixed into the game's soundtrack really adds to the stressful yet fun gameplay experience.
The sheer challenge, addictive gameplay, and nearly perfect controls make Cloudberry Kingdom well worth the price of admission. Just take into account all the broken controllers and mindless expletives you'll probably yell before making the investment.