Cheese Dreams

Sometimes, you play a game you have no real vested interest in beyond simple curiosity/boredom. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes, regardless, you play it for just a little bit too long. And sometimes, games journalist or not, when you finally stop playing it you realise don’t really have any meaningful reaction to what you’ve experienced. “Yep, I just spent some time.” For me, that used to apply to coverdisc demos of any old guff, installed and played simply because they were there, but most recently it’s been to webgames.

Unfortunately, when you co-run a PC games blog, whatever stumbles randomly across your RSS feeds before the first coffee of the day has fully absorbed into your arteries carries with it a terrible sense of guilt. “I should be playing something I can write about. What can I write about this? Oh God, what can I write about this?

And so, Cheese Dreams, which was today’s pre-breakfast pastime for me.

I think I enjoyed it, but it didn’t leave an indelible impression. It’s a remarkably polished 16-bit-esque platformer, employing a concept so high it somehow folds back around into oddly ordinary – you play as the moon, kidnapped by giant evil space-mice and searching for escape from their trap’n’puzzle-laden starship. There’s a heavy, heavy debt to platform stalwarts Sonic and Kirby, but something about it – possibly the setting, possibly the puzzles – raises a faint, welcome aroma of The Lost Vikings.

Where it seems fairly clever is in the reductionism of the control set, something I’m always fascinated in (Trackmania, the staple of this most recent gaming week, is a fine example of that – the degree of acrobatics and finesse it allows, or crucially at least seems to allow, from four cursor keys, is truly remarkable). Here, your only controls are left and right – the moon, being round and bouncy, hands all vertical control over to elasticity and gravity (and, occasionally, anti-gravity). So, there’s a interesting degree of physics involved – momentum and inertia, rather than purely timing, are vital to progress. It’s not a new idea, but it seems to work well in a switch-flipping, baddie-dodging puzzle environment.

But it’s perhaps a little too cute and it’s not making any post-modern statements about the nature of videogaming or whatever, so you’ll probably spit at it. Which would, I think, be a shame. But I don’t know for sure.

7 Comments

  1. sbs says:

    I’m stuck. I mean, literally: link to img252.imageshack.us

  2. Lh'owon says:

    ‘Tis alright. It could do with being more surreal I feel. The idea is fairly awesome – the moon being captured by space mice – but the cutesy/neutral graphics don’t really draw me in.

    The ‘moon’ just being a ball of cheese doesn’t help either. But the game itself is fine.

  3. Down Rodeo says:

    Hmm. I dunno. I gave up on my second death, but then I’m too tired for proper perseverance. Interesting physics, though; I never knew the moon could create perfectly elastic collisions.

    Yes, I do physics.

  4. Mike says:

    It reminds me of SuperFrog’s later levels, for some reason.

  5. JJ says:

    This is like a remake of the hardest game in the history of everything:
    Cauldron 2
    link to lemon64.com

    The pumpkin an the moon look very much alike

  6. Cooper says:

    Before anyome dismisses this, I thoroughly suggest you check out the rest of nitrome’s games ( http://www.nitrome.com ).

    They vary in quality, and some are much better than others. Magnetboy (another recent release) Is a fun puzzler, though a bit over-complicated in areas. Dirk Valentine is a novel(ish) take on grappling hooks. Cheese dreams is pretty middling though.

    However, they have some of the most excellently executed pixel art out there. Pixel art doesn’t always have to equate to retro-ness and gameplay statements like YHTBTR and RCF and all that.

    Sometimes pixel art can /just/ be cute and pretty and fun…

  7. Adrian says:

    It reminds me a lot of the game “Within a Deep Forest” which seems to do this concept much better. It’s a free, worthwhile download.