"I just want to finish this world so we can watch our movie."
My wife is waiting patiently for me to finish the fourth world in Commander Cherry's Puzzled Journey. I've been tasked with maneuvering Commander Cherry through his obstacles using my body, the Xbox One controller, a time slowing mechanism, and a laser beam. I have been swearing a lot.
"Did you see that!? My body just f***ing disappeared!"
Commander Cherry's Puzzled Journey is both a Kinect game and a platformer. It is good at being neither of those things. Having brute-forced my way through the fourth world, I decide to take a break, both for my own sanity and to be a good husband. But this is neither here nor there, you're here to find out whether or not Commander Cherry is worth helping out in his puzzled journey. The short answer is, "No," but if you'd like to read as to why, be my guest and keep scrolling.
Without much explanation as to why (story is clearly not a consideration), Commander Cherry is marooned on some kind of a planet after his steak shaped space ship crashes. Observed by a weird seal and a weirder piece of anthropomorphized cauliflower, the player is tasked with helping the Commander pass through each level by positioning their bodies in front of the Kinect, taking a picture, and then using that picture as a platform to pass through each puzzle using the Xbox One controller. Upping the challenge, the player is required to position their bodies so that they activate little pips called "NaviChi" for Commander Cherry to collect. The only way to pass through each puzzle is to collect every pip. Missing a pip means you have to retake the picture, which costs you the perfect "Yogawesome!" rating.
At this point, the game's first problem rears its head. As with many Kinect titles, the sensor does an INCREDIBLY poor job picking up the player's body. It will randomly cut in and out causing the picture to lock in all of the NaviChi, but disappear as a platform. Alternately, there are occasions when the player's body is perfectly positioned to activate all of the NaviChi, but one phases out the second the picture is taken, forcing the player to retake the picture and lose the "Yogawesome!" rating. In short, not only does the player have to fight their own bodies to create the perfect platform that activates all of the NaviChi, but they also must pray at the alter of Don Mattrick that the Kinect actually scans them in correctly.
The second problem occurs after the player has finished their Kinect gymnastics, the platform controls are just abominable. Commander Cherry gets hung up on invisible parts of the built in puzzle even before having to navigate the player's scanned image. Collision with enemies is also hit or miss, meaning that there's little way to predict if an enemy collision is your fault or the fault of the game. Finally the platforms (both puzzle based and Kinect created) are so touchy that it's nigh impossible to figure out of Commander Cherry will be able to actually utilize them or if they're too steep, high, or small.
WHERE DID I GO!?
The game is scored by collecting all of the NaviChi without having to retake a picture or dying due to platforming mishaps. Passing through unscathed while collecting all of the NaviChi will yield the coveted "Yogawesome" rating. Missing a picture - and being forced to retake it - simply awards the "Yoga" or "Yo" rating. Errors in platforming cause you to lose collected NaviChi. At the end of each puzzle world, players are assigned a score rating for the number of NaviChi they managed to hold onto. Let the record show that I never medaled at the end of any puzzle world.
I am the warrior (pose).
With each new world, a new wrinkle to the formula is presented. The aforementioned time slowing mechanism and laser beam are soon joined by a mechanic that speeds up platforms and one where the player's body pictures are used to block laser beams. Further aiding the player is the game's singular power up which grants the (incredibly vital) ability to double jump as well as extending the Commander's laser beam. Mercifully, if the player fails a few times on a puzzle the game grants a "gimme" power up (netting my lone, non-story-completion achievement in the title).
Speaking of achievements, Commander Cherry is not for the faint of heart. While I was granted a "gimme" for my ineptitude at mastering the spotty systems, six of the ten achievements are "Secret" and the one's that aren't are real doozies. Whether it's getting the "Yogawesome!" rating on each level or completing the game's punishing Mirror Mode (which flips your Kinect image upside-down and reverses right and left), there's a lot to suffer through.
SummaryWhile combining the innovative nature of the Kinect with the use of a controller is a noble goal that more developers should strive for, Commander Cherry's Puzzle Quest is an unmitigated disaster that takes the worst parts of Kinect games and platforming and mashes them together. If the terrible Kinect scanning doesn't get you, the horrible platforming controls will. While some may find fun in the challenge, the game should be passed on by all but the most ardent of Kinect fans.
- Interesting technical concept
- Less frustrating than AP Calculus... barely
- Terrible Kinect scanning
- Horrendous platforming controls
- Odd aesthetics
EthicsThe reviewer spent approximately three hours playing through the game, completing the primary game mode and testing out the Mirror Mode. He popped two of ten achievements along the way. The Xbox One copy of this game was provided by the developer for the use of this review.
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