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Not Mushroom to Maneuver: Cloudberry Kingdom

I don't have the digital dexterity to be a Super Meat Boy master and VVVVVV took me to my limits, so the sight of a new spike-laden contender for most malicious platformer ever should see me jumping for cover. Cloudberry Kingdom has been in development for three years now, originally placing tenth in the 2009 Dream Play Build Competition, and is almost ready for release on both the MicroBox and PC. The most recent trailer makes it seem the kind of challenge that will have some people flexing their fingers in preparation for. I'm just scared, though intrigued by the brainy brainwork behind this madness.

It might look like sadism and it may well be, but then listen to this: "the proprietary algorithm powering the game...[can create] more levels than [there are] particles in the known universe". Being a busy man, I haven't found the time to count the levels or the particles but it seems this algorithm is capable of taking instructions from a player and then building a level to their specifications. Observe.

The placement of those features, in those quantities, is then randomised to a degree, but with the algorithm ensuring that every level can be completed. Some of them almost definitely won't be but the important thing is they can be and to prove it the computer will show you how it should be done if you ask it politely. Whatever it shows me, I don't believe a human being can survive something like this.

I reckon the developers are of like mind because they're offering $1000 of their hard-earned to the first person to beat the game on its hardest difficulty. That person will be a robot and it will be the year 2162 by which point the only currency will be FutureBucks.

To increase the clever clogs quotient even more, there are quite a few different types of hero in the game, from the standard jumping man to a chap with a jetpack, an odd fellow who seems to cartwheel around the screen and more besides. The levels created take into account which hero needs to make his way through them and are adjusted accordingly. Here's a look at some levels on the second highest difficulty level.

Erk. If nothing else, it could be fascinating just to see what devilish concoctions this wicked contraption can produce. Hopefully we'll get a chance to talk to the man behind the mathematics before the April release, which may well involve nodding politely at a swarm of giant words.

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