An old hero and adventurer named Bob is the star of Cloudberry Kingdom, and upon beginning Story Mode for the first time, players learn this won't be an easy game or one with a very complex storyline. Hercules star, Kevin Sorbo, provides the voice for Bob, who is desperately chasing the diabolical King Kobbler to save the kingdom. Kobbler has kidnapped the princess of Cloudberry Kingdom and has gotten his hands on a powerful artifact that allows its owner to create, control and manipulate an infinite supply of worlds. Every two chapters or so, players get another brief cutscene that explains the change in scenery and adds some more character development. As it turns out, Bob isn't the world's most noble hero, nor is the princess the most ladylike. The game has plenty of humor and a brief narrative that it worth a laugh or two the first time through the game.
Levels in Cloudberry Kingdom are typically pretty short and only require the hero to get from the beginning of the stage to the ending on the right side of the screen without dying. This can be more difficult than it sounds though with bottomless pits, fireballs, spikes, ball and chains and other obstacles and enemies ready to take out any hero looking to traverse the stage. Each stage in the game is randomly generated by a complex algorithm developed by the team behind the game over several years. It allows for every stage to be completely unique but also, always solvable. Players can activate one of three powerups in each stage that will show how to complete each stage, present a path and ball that can be followed to safely complete each stage or even slow down time to make progression easier. There are also many different types of heroes in the game to mix up the action including a hero with a jetpack, hero in a mine cart, a spaceship and a tiny hero who can jump higher and fall slower.
In addition to the game's story mode, Cloudberry Kingdom features an Arcade mode and Free Play. The Arcade has four different modes to unlock and play including the ever increasingly difficult Escalation mode, timed, short levels in Time Crisis, randomly generated heroes in timed levels in Hero Rush, and a combinations of randomly generated heroes in timed levels in Hybrid Rush. Each Arcade variant offers up a different challenge, but the end goal is always to place as high as possible on the leaderboards whether this means competing with friends or on global leaderboards against the rest of the world. Free Play is the last game mode in Cloudberry Kingdom, and it allows players to fully customize matches including which location it will take place in, which hero will be used, how long the stage is and how difficult the obstacles will be for the match. Players won't earn experience points that work towards the player's overall level and leaderboard rankings here, but it's still a good mode to spend time in and see just how ridiculously difficult stages can become.
Gamers who may potentially purchase Cloudberry Kingdom will likely be divided on the game's aesthetic approach to its characters and worlds. During the game's cutscenes, the graphics presented look like paper mache models lazily skipping about the world that looks worse than some games from two console generations ago. The in-game graphics look a lot better however, and are very cartoon inspired. Sometimes, the game's choice of color scheme will obscure important parts of the stage though, and obstacles such as bouncy blocks and falling blocks can often look too similar and cause unnecessary deaths, but after playing the game for a few hours, these unfair deaths occur far less frequently. Overall, the game looks pretty nice, and a wonderful soundtrack accompanies the game with a variety of instrumentals that always enhances the action on-screen and helps make the game incredibly immersive. The game's controls are also excellent, though mastering each of the different types of heroes will take some time and will come from trial and error, since there is no true tutorial mode in the game.
Cloudberry Kingdom is a wonderful game that challenges players of all skill levels with varying levels of difficulty and a variety of game modes and settings that always keeps the gameplay fresh. Players can even team up in four player cooperative sessions in local multiplayer where only one player needs to complete the stage to progress. Collecting gems to earn extra lives and score multipliers is a blast in the game's Arcade modes, and there are even plenty of unlockables to gather in the game that can be used to fully customize heroes with different beards, hats and other items. Cloudberry Kingdom looks like a simplistic game at first, but after spending a short amount of time with the game, players will soon realize the game hides a grueling difficulty setting and depth that few other games have ever contained. If you're looking for a challenging new platformer with loads of replay value, look no further than Cloudberry Kingdom!
Cloudberry Kingdom is now available for $9.99 or 800 Microsoft Points and can be purchased for PlayStation Network, Xbox LIVE Arcade, Nintendo eShop and Steam. Cloudberry Kingdom is rated T by the ESRB for Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence & Suggestive Themes. For more information on the game, check out the official Cloudberry Kingdom website.
Developer: Pwnee Studios
Platforms: PlayStation Network, Xbox LIVE Arcade (reviewed), Nintendo eShop & Steam
Release Date: July 31, 2013