Cloudberry Kingdom is a game that some of you should be familiar with thanks to Staff Writer Kyle Emch’s coverage of the game and interview with the developers. But, despite what I’d heard, there’s nothing quite like playing that kind of game for yourself and trying to describe the way thirty to forty-five minutes just blew by like it was nothing.
Picture the hardest 2D platforming level you’ve ever played. I’m sure a lot of you are conjuring up images of Super Mario Bros, Super Meat Boy, or other shades of past and present. What made those levels tick? It could have been spikes, rotating flames of death, falling platforms… there are a large number of variables that determine the difficulty of a level. What Cloudberry Kingdom does is take all those things and almost randomly generates them.
I played the Arcade Mode of Cloudberry Kingdom and was treated to the best and worst of modern platforming, level by level. A “level” consists of a single screen filled with platforming obstacles that a single player (or up to three comrades) must survive. Get to the next screen, advance a level. The guy demoing said it could go as high as Level 150 so far; the game ends when the players run out of lives. I played with the guy demoing and two other folks who wanted in. When one of us died, the others weren’t punished; we were simply brought back into things seamlessly when the next screen advanced.
Each level is littered with a few diamonds to collect. Get diamonds, get a high score, get more lives, get farther. All the while, the God of Platforming that generates the code for this game gets smarter, realizes where you struggle and throws more of those kinds of obstacles in your way. The code can be trained to be very cruel, or very nice.
We played until I completely lost track of time, then the guy said, “Let me kick it up a notch and show you how sadistic this can get.” He went into the options menu, apparently tweaked all the platforming obstacles up to their maximum amount, and went back to Level 1.
I can’t even describe what I witnessed. I can only say he put the Wii Remote back in my hands and said, “I’ll give you $20,000 right now if you can beat this level.” Suffice to say…he still has his money. There were obstacles everywhere; it was practically impossible to advance. I only say “practically” because… dude advanced through his own creation without so much as breaking a sweat. It was incredible to watch, and even more incredible to play.
Cloudberry Kingdom seems like the quintessential “party-platformer”. Does something like that even exist? I’m not sure, and that’s what makes it so…unique.