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Developer: Pwnee Studios Publisher: Ubisoft Platform: PlayStation 3 (PSN), Xbox 360 (XBLA), Wii U (eShop), Steam Release Date: Out Now ESRB: T for Teen This review is based on the PlayStation 3 version of the game, in which a download code was provided by the publisher Difficult platformers seem to be all the rage in the indie scene nowadays - so much so that the market seems to be overflowing with them. Sure, there are titles that are easily recognizable, but for every Super Meat Boy and VVVVVV, there are countless more hardcore platformers that fail to really stand out. Cloudberry Kingdom tries to impress with an interesting asthetic (in the cutscenes, at least) and procedurally developed levels, but does it manage to make a name for itself, or will it get lost in the platformer shuffle? In the first few minutes of the game's Story Mode, Cloudberry Kingdom looks very impressive. You're introduced to the washed-up old hero Bob and the wizard-like villian in an appealing paper-craft like style. It really looks great... but it's unfortunate that this style only applies to cutscenes. These scenes don't happen very often, and for the rest of the story adventure you'll be treated to an asthetic style that's honestly rather bland, which is really quite a disappointment. However, for the fan of difficult platformers, graphics and art styles don't really matter as long as you can see the obstacles ahead of you (and they are quite viable in this game), so let's talk more about the gameplay. In Story Mode, the basics are introduced to you very quickly: You learn to run and jump, the game's physics, and not to run into pointy objects very quickly. Cloudberry Kingdom is not one to start in the deep end; the beginning levels aren't too difficult, but they are also not completely holding your hand. This is a welcome relief for those who become tired of these type of games throwing everything at you in the first five minutes. After you just start to get used to Bob's physics, though, something changes. Every 10 levels or so (and it becomes more spread out as the game progresses), Bob unlocks a new form of sorts that you have to get used to. These forms can come in any number of forms, such as a double jumping Bob, a Bob with a Jetpack, or even a gravity swtiching Bob. It's up to you to learn how to survive with these new forms in mind (and sometimes even learn when you've switched forms), and becomes essential to your progression in the Story Mode. But, the Story Mode feels mostly like a tutorial for the main game--the Arcade Mode. It's here that the game and its components really get to shine, with various game modes and ways to play. Arcade Mode starts with only one mode and one version of Bob available, and you have to earn the rest by increasing your Player Level. Getting through one level in an Arcade mode increases your level by one, so it's not difficult to increase the level and unlock new stuff quickly. By doing so, you'll unlock more modes to play through as well as the other versions of Bob you got a taste of in Story Mode. The process makes it pretty rewarding to get better at Cloudberry Kingdom, and try to unlock more new modes. The modes themselves are pretty fun, and range from a typical straight run with limited lives, to a strictly timed run (only 15 seconds per stage!), and are just flat out fun to play through. Finally, there's the Free Play mode, which allow you to plug in certain parameters (such as length, difficulty, and so on) and have the game randomly generate a level for you. This is pretty cool for platformer enthusiasts, but most will find that the Arcade and Story modes will give you plenty of content before they get tired of the game. The final verdict on Cloudberry Kingdom? It's not a bad game, but at the same time it's not particulary great either. The beginning difficulty and some other little touches make the title more user friendly than other games of its ilk, but unfortunately the game doesn't really stand out in any other way. Second Opinion by Jason Clement I'll be honest here - Cloudberry Kingdom looked somewhat underwhelming to me from the get-go, but thank goodness for the old adage - "Don't judge a book by its cover" - because that's almost what I did with this game. Admittedly, games that are super challenging to the point of being impossible (like I Wanna Be The Guy) never held an appeal to me, and that's what I was afraid this game would be, but thankfully I was wrong (at least partially). Cloudberry Kingdom makes use of randomly generated levels that scale and change according to the player's skill level. This isn't new tech, but it is fairly groundbreaking for platformers and enough to give this game an edge to compete with other indie platformers. As a simple run-and-jump game, it's unremarkable yet strangely addictive, especially in later levels when it becomes all about recognizing patterns and executing a path through highly treacherous obstacles to reach the goal. While the game's visuals and aesthetic style won't win any awards, I did enjoy the papercraft look the game's cutscenes take on as you progress through the story; it's a shame that they were far and few between. And the story is an interesting take on the damsel in distress trope with an interesting twist; suffice it to say that the game never takes itself too seriously for its own good. In all, I was pleasantly surprised with Cloudberry Kingdom. Like Gaia mentioned in her review, it isn't a game that I'd necessarily consider to be "great," but I can say it's a fairly good, solid game after spending quite a bit of time with it. I'd especially recommend it if you're interested in unique and challenging platformers. Pros: + The game eases you into the difficulty + Arcade Mode is a lot of fun to play casually Cons: - Story Mode drags on for longer than you would want - Stale visuals are a disappointment compared to the cutscenes - Some versions of Bob are less fun than others to play Overall Score: 6.0 (out of 10) Decent Second Opinion Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good Randomly generated levels or not, Cloudberry Kingdom doesn't do enough different to really help it stand out in the indie platformer crowd.
DrPixel posted a blog entry in Pixels N' StuffDeveloper: Michael Todd Games Publisher: Michael Todd Games Platform: PC Release Date: August 7th, 2013 Having my ears blasted by intense electronic music and the occasional......uh......moan(?) is not what I would call an ideal setup for a first impressions of a game. Adding in some flashing rainbow colors might worsen my experience just a bit. However, upon playing the game that utilizes these three very unique elements, Electronic Super Joy, I can certainly say that it kinda grows on you after a while. ESJ (as I shall call it) is a strange and challenging platformer created by a guy named Michael Todd. Nice job MT, you just secured ESJ into the OPHWG (Official Pixel Hall of Weird Games). Now that's a lot of abbreviations! Anyway, on to the game. There's no end to the pumping electronic music and the flashy visuals, but luckily you can alter the moans to a more "PG" option. Definitely a great added touch right before release (the game was in Early Access for a bit). Well, I should quit babbling about the small stuff and get on to the actual game! There's 4 worlds in it, each with generally ~15-20 levels besides the last world, which only has 5 levels I believe. I managed to get to the boss of world 2 and could barely manage to get very far in the level at all after my time playing. However, I got stuck multiple times like this and after going back and trying something new or honing my reflexes almost always I could pass the levels in a try or two. So thankfully, the game isn't too hard for inexperienced platformer players! Every level is very possible to beat once you understand the weird tricks the level design is trying to throw at you. Now, this leads to the inevitable question- is ESJ really as hard as it claims to be? Well......to be frank, I'd have to say no. There's a few levels that will challenge inexperienced gamers, but for the most part I would say anyone can progress far in this game with some patience. Each level can be cleared just by carefully timing jumps, stomps, and horizontal movement of your character (who by the way, is some guy who lost his butt via the despicable Groove-Wizard, that is literally the plot). With so few levels, you may think this game is nowhere near the price, but considering that you can try and get the hidden star on each level, speedrun them, or unlock some difficult achievements may lessen the price tag. If the game ever goes 50% or more off though, this would be an instant buy if you like platformers! One thing that did manage to keep me entertained was the simple, immature humor this game throws at the player. Things in even the description are kinda funny, such as: "The Evil Groove-Wizard rules the world with an iron fist. Captain Lewis, of the 43rd Queen's Disco Troop, has vowed to resist his tyrannical rule! ...And he stole Little Anni McGee's teddy bear! Can you defeat the Groove-Wizard and end his Tyranny? Can you be a hero?" There's also another instance involving the Pope......that I won't speak of. Overall, I'd say I was fairly pleased with ESJ. It provides some great tunes and colorful visuals while very gently tearing your hair out over the moderate difficulty. It's a nice blend, and if you enjoy platformers this is certainly a game you should consider! I give this game a: 7.5/10 Also, you can win a copy of the game (on Steam of course)! Simply comment below telling me what your ideal technical combo (graphics+music) in terms of style would be for a game! An example would be: "Hardcore Rock music with cutesy graphics" I'll be closing this and choosing my favorite combo as the winner this Friday, August 30th, 2013! So get your entry in! Good luck!
Difficulty. It's something I'm sure all of you have come across in your lives. I'm not talking about games here. You know what I mean- that F you just scored on your English test, or that pay decrease you just received. Maybe something even so small as having to walk up the stairs in your house after a long afternoon of track practice. Why is life so tough? And more importantly, why do many games try to emulate that? Let me ask you, the reader, a question. Why do you play games? Is it for the challenge? Multiplayer madness with friends? Loot? BOOTY? Maybe, and maybe not. However, one thing stands out among the "code of games" to me. If you make a game, your goal is to make it fun, and make the player enjoy it. Any which way you do this is up to you, however, your goal should be for the player to maybe laugh a bit, cry a bit, or even smile when they reach the end. So why are some games just so frustratingly hard? Why do they insist on giving you the most extreme challenge in video game existence? To me, it's still adding to the fun factor and enjoyment of the game. The extremely easy difficulties even help with that. For instance, is playing on the "easy" difficulty going to change much of the original game? Probably not, but it lets anyone who is new or struggles with tough games to still thoroughly enjoy the same game that a more experienced or "hardcore" gamer can also love and enjoy. Consider most modern games. They usually have at least three difficulties, and you probably usually pick normal. However, with both easy and hard as options, you could pick to have a harder challenge or a creamy-cake-easy time. It's this freedom of choice that's great for us gamers. Well, game difficulty is great, you probably already knew that. However, what about those games that ONLY let you have an extreme or incredibly easy challenge? You know what I mean....opposite ends of the spectrum, such as "I Wanna Be The Guy", or "Barbie Horse Adventures". I've played both I'll admit, and for me personally, Barbie just isn't that fun. It's too easy, and the horse looks lame anyway, really. But, I Wanna Be The Guy is all like....*death*. You can't win in that game unless you are very skilled at platforming games and can memorize the traps. It's very tough. However, I've come back to both of these games multiple times. Why might that be, now? Well, truthfully, both offer very different experiences. You get different satisfactions from both games. In Barbie, I get to experience the joy of washing my great, mighty stallion. In IWBTG, I get to experience the joy of trying again and again to even get to the next screen. It's normal to get frustrated while trying to get there, but if you focus on having fun, even extremely hard or easy games can be made into an enjoyable experience. We'll never know what went on exactly inside the heads of the early video game developers when they were considering the difficulty of their games, but I can say from the player's point of view that no matter how tough, games are still fun. There may be extreme games that can really push your nerves, but through it all, I have a feeling you're still having a good time.