When I first approached GameMill’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, I was expecting a fun experience, full of colorful graphics, and excellent gameplay that captured the essence of the film. I did not, however, expect a carbon copy of Fruit Ninja, which totally caught me by surprise. I’ve played that game a million times on my iPhone, so why would I want to play it again?
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
Developed by GameMill Entertainment / Published by Activision
Available on the Nintendo DS and 3DS. Reviewed on the 3DS.
*Review Copy provided by Activision
If you’re one of the rare people who hasn’t played Fruit Ninja yet, it’s that simple yet addictive game that has you slicing fruits left and right while avoiding bombs. This new movie-based title is the very same game, albeit thinly veiled with appropriately themed backgrounds and characters.
The presentation and menus of this game are horrible. Not only do backgrounds look like they belong on the SNES, the animations (the few of them that exist) of lingering foodimals (animals made of food) are terrible and stale. The story is just as poor, throwing out a few slides of text with character cutouts during every couple of stages that really don’t make any sense or give you any real understanding of the plot. Soundbytes, which should spice things up a little, are insanely repetitive and annoying. If it wasn’t for the tried-and-true gameplay, I wouldn’t have given this game the light of day.
Players boot up the game only to find three options: Challenge, Story, and Lab. The only one unlocked at the start, however, is Story, so people are forced into the game’s main mode, and that is where the food slicing starts.
To be honest, you won’t be slicing food only, as Flint – the main character of the film – is also a scientist. That means that instead of playing around with items from our nutritional pyramid, you’ll also be slicing up a large variety of things, like schematics, fruits, meatballs, crystals, and more. The wide range of sliceable objects won’t affect the gameplay though, as you’ll still be concentrating on getting combos and avoiding dangerous objects.
Gameplay is a rip-off of Fruit Ninja or any other fruit slicing clone. Players aim to slice up the good items, while avoiding the fiery red ones. Using the stylus and the bottom screen of the 3DS, players can swipe across and cleave objects in two. Slicing the right stuff, however, is easier than ever, since the bottom screen color codes the objects as they are launched into the air. Grey means that it’s safe to cut, black means it’s a power-up, and red means avoid at all costs. Fruit Ninja made things challenging because you had a large variety of colors and fruits on the screen and some objects could easily be confused with bombs, but Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 simplifies things to the point that I completed the whole game without ever glancing at the color-filled top screen. Later on in the game some foods will reward players by swiping them in a certain direction, but even that wasn’t necessary for me to gain a top score.
The game attempts to keep things interesting by adding mechanics to the mix, like fruits that split or must be sliced various times and objects that must be collected in order to appease some foodimals, but even those either come in too late in the game’s campaign to make a difference or serve no purpose whatsoever other than to force you to replay levels in order to unlock useless stuff.
In addition, the main campaign will all go by way too quickly. Each stage lasts a minute (the timer is set at a minute), and there are six stages for each of the six worlds. That means that if you don’t lose a stage, you’ll beat this game in thirty-six minutes. That’s an insanely low amount of playtime. Sure, the game does rank your performance in each stage by awarding one to three stars, but most of the time the stages throw so much stuff at you that you’ll be able to ace each stage in one sitting.
Challenge mode and the Lab try to extend gameplay time by allowing players to either partake in variations of the main game mode, or the gathering of boring collectables. The four gameplay modes in Challenge mode task the player with surviving as long as they can with slight differences in gameplay, like chopping fish or objects of a certain color, while you can collect foodimals, objects to create powerups, and background images for the bottom screen. The most playing you’ll do in this game after completion will be in challenge mode, but after a few tries you’ll quickly get bored and probably never play it again.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is unfortunately another poor attempt at a movie tie-in game, taking one of the most cloned games available and sticking a new cartoon skin on it. It is unimaginative, poorly designed, and boring, and even the youngest of children will put this game to the side after a number of play sessions. In other words, it’s one of those shameless cash grabs. If you really must play one of these games, stick with the original. It’s better, more challenging, and cheaper.