Cloning Clyde

August 12, 2006

[i]Cloning Clyde[/i] is a nice basic platform/puzzle game, but it’s got a lot of good sense and style. The game isn’t hard, and you can’t die. However, there is enough of a challenge there to keep a gamer occupied for the duration of the game, and it’s great fun for relaxing. It will also appeal to any casual gamer out there.

Dim-witted Clyde has decided to allow a shady cloning company to perform experiments on him for a measly twenty bucks. Unfortunately something has gone wrong, leaving Clyde and a whole bunch of his clones trapped in their facility. It’s up to you to guide all of the Clydes to safety.

Clyde runs, jumps, and hurts himself through a wide variety of levels. (Many of which have large grassy expanses. The upkeep on this lab must be huge!) By tripping switches and defeating ugly security robots, Clyde gradually opens a path to the level exit. Don’t expect a lot of Mario-style jumping on enemies here. The game is about navigating the puzzles and obstacles in your path.

If a puzzle requires several switches to be hit at once, or perhaps more weight than even out-of-shape Clyde can provide, you will find that most labs are stocked with an ample supply of trapped clones and/or cloning machines. You can leave one Clyde and take over others as needed. As you work through the levels, you can assist these other Clydes in their escape and pick up a large collection of Killer Ken action figures, which have been mysteriously cloned out of your pocket.

Another twist to the game is that you can combine Clyde’s DNA with several animals including frogs, chickens, and…barrels of dynamite? These fusions create modified Clydes who can swim better, jump farther, or in the perplexing case of Chicken-Clyde, “fly like chicken.” The puzzles involve many goals that can only be reached by the correct form of Clyde. Although the materials and machinery are usually available in a very obvious fashion well before the obstacles you must overcome with them. In general, the puzzles in the game are simple enough given the lack of a time limit and unlimited lives, but they are at the very least straightforward and fun to execute.

The graphics in [i]Cloning Clyde[/i] are 3D toon-shaded graphics, but they have as much (if not more) personality as I have come to expect from the best 2d games. The Clydes, all the animals, and the environment have a nice look to them; the animation is as smooth as you would think is possible. Clyde seems to have a clever animation for everything you can think of: from falling on his face, to stubbing his toe when someone else jumps on it, to laughing at another Clyde who has fallen on his face or stubbed his toe. You get to see the Clydes you aren’t controlling go through plenty of nice idle animations as well. Of course, all of this is delivered in crisp 720p widescreen for those who have it.

The co-op for this game is a little more minimal than I initially believed, merely allowing you to take on the normal levels with up to 4 people over Live. The co-op counts towards your normal game accomplishments, so it can be a good way to quickly and easily burn through a complex level. Also it’s just a lot of laid back fun with plenty of options for a little competition for Killer Ken dolls and infighting without it really getting in the way of the possibility of victory. The versus mode seems somewhat clever at first, but quickly becomes uninteresting. Still, it may be good for a casual laugh or two.

One thing I really liked about this game was the clever use of the often uninteresting Xbox Live Achievements. All of the Achievements are easily unlockable in the normal flow of the game. Which is nice enough, but they also all unlock in-game skins (called “cheats” for some reason), so you can bring some customization to your online experience. I was a little disappointed by the lack of Achievements for the top end of the collection scale given that it was so easy to accomplish, but I have to say I liked the way they handled it.

Overall, the game ends up being a little short and a little easy, but it’s loads of fun and has a great sense of humor. I have also had two or three puzzles fail to trigger properly, but those cases were easily fixed by leaving and re-entering the level. For ten dollars, I can easily say this is one of the better casual games on Xbox Live Arcade. I don’t think you will find a boring moment in Clyde’s little adventure.

Score: 5/5

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