It’s always nice when a Kickstarter project has something more than a good idea and some concept art to back it up. If someone is asking for money, it doesn’t seem unfair to want a decent idea of exactly what you’re backing, especially when it’s from an unknown studio. Pwnee (pronounced “pony”) Studios has had a Kickstarter running for their procedurally-generated platformer Cloudberry Kingdom for a bit over three weeks at the time of this writing, and as of this week backers get to check out the beta. While there’s still a lot of work to be done, it’s an impressive starting point to build from.
What procedurally generated means in terms of a platformer is that an AI builds each level a few seconds before you get to play it, and the focus of the gameplay shifts from exploration to reflex. While this seems to mean that secrets and other hidden goodies get the axe, it transforms Cloudberry Kingdom’s levels into a series of reflex-based challenges where the only thing between you and a spikey ball in the face is an unbroken series of split-second maneuvers.
In its current beta form, Cloudberry Kingdom has a few game modes available to show off what it can do, both in terms of arranging obstacles and the hero abilities. One level may be themed around spikes and disappearing ghost blocks, while the next may have lots of green bouncy blocks and the slowly spinning large fireballs, plus a laser or two for good measure. The hero’s abilities range from standard run & jump guy, to having a rocketpack, being small and super-jumpy, having a double jump, or a random combination of multiple abilities. Each level is built with the hero in mind, leading to a ridiculously huge variety of challenges. The Free Play mode in particular, where you can edit your hero’s abilities such as jump height, speed, acceleration, and such can lead to a near-endless succession of insane challenges, especially with the difficulty cranked up.
Cloudberry Kingdom is still early, as evidenced by its beta status, but the foundation to build something truly impressive is already in place. The AI level builder is being tweaked, the hero is going to get replaced, the level variety increased, and Kickstarter backer feedback is being taken into account, so there’s still a long way to go to wrap this game up. If Cloudberry Kingdom can live up to the promise of its beta, though, it’s going to deliver some truly epic arcade platforming.