The biggest surprise about Microsoft’s new consoles is that its most next-gen feature isn’t high-definition visuals or rock solid frame rates, but rather its online service Xbox Live. Whether you take into account the flawless integration of the service into your everyday gaming experience, or simply use it to check out movie trailers, no one can deny just how great the service truly is. The best part about Live, so far, has definitely been Xbox Live Arcade. Which, for those that do not know, actually started on the original Xbox console a few years ago. Arcade has paved the way for smaller developers to create original games that otherwise may have never seen the light of day. This brings me to the title at hand, Cloning Clyde.
Developed by the same guys that brought you Outpost Kaloki X, Cloning Clyde is a classic side scroller with some twisted humor and unique puzzles that really defines what Arcade is all about. The game play itself is very similar to the likes of Lemmings where you can actually control multiple clones of your main character to achieve different goals. You see, Clyde is actually a moron that has been roped into letting scientists perform crazy genetic experiments on him, all for the promise of twenty bucks. During the process something goes awry and Clyde ends up being cloned-a lot. The game utilizes this by giving Clyde the ability to clone himself to solve puzzles that are impossible with only one character.
While this type of mechanic is certainly not new, it does give the game a fresh spin from usual drivel we are force fed on a daily basis. Clyde can also intertwine his DNA with several other species such as frogs, sheep, and even barrels of TNT. Each unique mutation has a special function that will aid you in certain levels. Such as the frog’s ability to breathe underwater or using the TNT barrel to explode through barriers and access other parts of the level.
The main game is broken up into 24 missions and 10 challenge levels. The main goal of each level is to destroy a collection of security bots and make it to the exit. While this may sound simple, there are a lot of variables to consider upon entering each new level. For starters, if you want to collect all the achievements, and who doesn’t, then you will have to search every stage to find the Kenn Action Figures. There are between two and five of these in each level and you can earn achievements for collecting 50 and 100 respectively. Another intriguing feature is the ability to save all of your clones before exiting the level. This can be tedious in some occasions where you will have between 15-20 to save, but if you can bring enough of them home riches await you, well not really, but hey at least you get some achievement points.
Every level also has a par time that you can attempt to beat. Taking down all 24 levels and 10 challenges under this set time earns you, yep, you guessed it, another achievement! I love it when developers take the time to add in achievements that require you to do more than simply finish levels on harder difficulties, especially when they make you actually play the game in new and interesting ways.
While all of this makes the game last a bit longer than you would expect, it can become tedious at times. Guiding 15+ clones to the exit every single level becomes more of a chore after the tenth time. Thankfully, all of these are extra incentives that the player is never required to do. In fact, the game itself is relatively straight-forward, and once you grasp how the mechanics work you can simply fly through the entire game in one sitting. I believe this is part of the charm of Clyde. The game play isn’t the most complicated game yet it remains fun all the way through, which is certainly rare these days.
When you top off the single player, Clyde also offers some nice online, and off, multi-player features to enjoy. Up to four players can engage in co-op or versus modes. Plus, you can even take guests onto Xbox Live to compete together. The co-op venture is basically the single-player experience with another person, but the versus consists of entirely new stages for you to engage in battle upon. The objective is to destroy the other person’s security bots all the while avoiding the same hazards found in the single-player game such as rockets and mines. Our experience on Live was certainly smooth with very little in the way of lag.
While Clyde may not set the gaming world on fire, it does exactly what it set out to do. The simplistic mechanics and unique puzzles bring an old-school flavor to the game that should appeal to just about anyone with a love for gaming in general. While the price point is a bit steeper than most Arcade titles, 800 as opposed to 400, you have to take into account that this is a completely original title and not a rehashed arcade classic with some high-def borders on each side. Cloning Clyde is a perfect example of what I imagined Live Arcade would be like and if this is a sign of the future of the service count me in!!