I was very fortunate enough to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in August (early screening) and enjoyed the humor. My kids would have loved to see the film (which I'm going to take them to because I'm a good parent), so I understood going into this game what audience the title was geared towards.
Still, did it make a difference that I knew it was for the kids? Let's find out.
Cloudy with a chance of fun
The gameplay in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is quite obviously geared towards a younger audience. You play as Flint Lockwood (main character in the film) and you have simple jumps, climbs, slices, run abilities and kid-friendly weapons at your disposal. The first thing you'll notice about this game is that it's incredibly linear. You basically move from point A to point B and there is no other way to go. Well, let me slightly take that back, occasionally you have a point C, but it always ends in the same place. You'll have levels, such as the Jello castle, where you'll are able to deviate off the path you're on to collect a few more hidden items that you might not have seen. There's not much to it, but it does offer some different flavor to the game (no pun intended).
As for the basic controls, like I stated above, you can do all those things, but there is also a weapons system element to the game. As you progress through the game you will unlock weapons that Flint can use. These weapons are associated with the 'next' level you play in the game. For example, you might unlock the Forkamajigger (that's the actual name, don't laugh) that will give you the ability to pick up food and move it to achieve progression in the level or to access hidden items. The 'unlocked' weapons, once chosen, dictate what level you're going to go to next. You have the freedom of choosing whatever weapon you want, but that weapon directly affects what level you go to in the game. In that sense, the game is a little bit non-linear. Anyway, as for other weapons, you have a wide variety of them for a kids' game; they are as follows:
- Hot Enougher - melts things like giant ice cream scoops that might block your way.
- Forkamajigger - as explained above.
- Upsucker Plus - This is basically a vacuum that works both in sucking/blowing (no laughing!). It also works with small grease, honey and oil spots.
- Chopper-er - It works great on fruit and mean gummy bears.
- Bigacious Pow - It has a boxing glove on it; what more do you want?
- Outtasighter - It works as a vacuum, a remover and a catapult.
Each item has its own purpose and the game never let's you choose the wrong weapon. Some levels allow you to carry two weapons, while others only allow you to carry/use one. The game, again, is made for a younger audience so the controls aren't too confusing.
To cap off gameplay, you're allowed to play with two people. This harkens back to a different, more cooperative gaming area and it's very strong selling point to the game. Can you imagine your kids actually cooperating on something? Me neither, but there's a possibility with this game!
Better than a salisbury steak
The strongest point to this game is how it's so much like the movie. While it doesn't go along with the movie's story or plot points, it does go along with the more popular elements of the film. For example, Flint Lockwood acts like Flint Lockwood. As he is adventuring through levels, he is constantly saying witty things about what he is doing. When Flint is battling the very nasty gummy bears he talks about wishing Steve (his monkey) were here to take care of the problem (Steve loves gummy bears). Throughout the entire game Lockwood is saying such randomly, well-placed things during the action.
As for the graphics, this certainly could have been done on a system one generation ago. I'm not sure it's up to Playstation 3 standards, as the game doesn't look that processor or graphic intensive. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of personality here that matches the film, but the game looks like something that should be on the Wii or Playstation 2. The environments are restrictively small, the levels don't have a lot of action going on (except when steak is raining from the sky) and there is nothing that screams 'innovation' in terms of visual presentation. Kids won't care, but this reviewer had to point it out.
With all of this said, is the game worth the price? From a kid's perspective, it might be a great adventure (younger kid, under the age nine). The fact that you're able to have two-players during gameplay is very old school nice. The adventure is around five to seven hours in length that may not include unlocking everything, so take that into consideration. I think the price tag of $49.99, while cheaper than typical PS3 games, is still about $10 too high. For this type of linear adventure that will keep your kids occupied for about month, this may not be enough to warrant the price tag; that is completely up to you though.