App Reviewed on: iPhone 4
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When I take a step back from A Cloudy Adventure, I realize how ridiculous the Mario story is. Two Brooklyn plumbers travelling through pipes to rescue a princess from a reptile? Yet I accept it because it's a video game and who the heck cares, just as I don't bat an eyelid at a cloud being propelled through the air by a block that looks like Elvis in its quest to come home with all the cheddar that was stolen by the cheddar thieves. I think that's what A Cloudy Adventure is trying to say by evoking Mario's cutesy dot-eyed visuals alongside such a frivolous storyline.
The quirky visuals and premise given A Cloudy Adventure a retro charm, and it's the perfect support for a game that requires a defter touch than a typical modern iOS adventure. The game is all about guiding Cloudy (of course) on his way home. However, Cloudy can't move himself and has to rely on friends who can propel him in different directions. For example there's Nim, the red block with an Elvis do, can blow a gust of air that pushes Cloudy from left to right, and Bus, a green block with a combover who can propel him upwards from below. The levels are designed around manipulating Bus, Nim, and other friends so that Cloudy avoids the obstacles and makes his way safely to the goals of 30 levels.
It reminds me a lot of last year's XBLA and PC hit Super Meat Boy in that the difficulty is pretty high thanks to the floatiness of Cloudy himself; push him too hard in one direction and he'll go beyond retrievable reach, meaning that the level has to be restarted. On the smaller levels that's an acceptable concession, but on some of the harder levels, when there are many obstacles to be negotiated and there really isn't too much margin for error, it can be frustrating to be sent back to the start. It doesn't really help that Cloudy isn't the quickest of movers; often a good minute's worth of effort goes to waste because of a tiny mistake. For the most part, however, the design is pretty tight, helping to ensure that the high difficulty makes completing a level extra satisfying rather than a relief. Also, every level has three hidden cheddar cheeses to find. Collect enough and they unlock items to dress the characters up with, like a monocle and top hat for Cloudy - a look really does suit a cloud, it must be said.
A Cloudy Adventure may require too deft a touch for some, but I think most players will get a kick out of its high difficulty, quirky personality, and retro atmosphere. The significance of the monocle and top hat mustn't be underestimated either.