Greetings Earthling, Commander Cherry wishes for you to accompany him on a journey that is so puzzling and so complex that it requires not just a standard controller to help navigate the universe, but also the power of Kinect.
Oh, it also requires you to carry out some standard yoga moves at the same time. It’s time to put down that pizza and get your body working!
In what is possibly the first proper Kinect/controller mash-up, you’ll need to use both your gaming skills and your toned body to help Cherry overcome the obstacles placed before him. Without one, the other will fail dismally and it’s only with a combination of the two that you’ll find success.
And you know what, after being pretty skeptical about the whole thing, it’s actually quite good fun to play.
Set over eight levels and a finale (after which it seems the mirror mode is the way forward), Cherry will need to make his way from left to right in order to reach an exit, accruing as many points in as he can in the process. But not only are there deadly obstacles and hungry enemies ready to devour the landscape, but huge craters impede him every step of the way. It is only when you stand in front of Kinect does the landscape begin to change, with your body movements creating new platforms and ledges for Cherry to grab hold of. With a controller in one hand as you hold the moves, a quick press of the RB button will see your shape immortalised forever more. Once you’ve settled on a placement for your silhouette, Cherry can then escape to safety.
To do so though he’ll have to collect a number of NaviChi orbs for each stage. And this is where things get a little tricky.
For the orbs only become ‘active’ once your body is touching (or near as damn it touching) them. Occasionally you’ll have to adopt a position with your arms out stretched, whilst another time you may be reaching for the sky with split legs. Every now and then you may just find yourself crawling around on all fours trying to find the optimum position. In fact, whatever it takes for your body to be near an orb is what you’ll have to pull off and with some of the latter levels (and the trickier obstacles that are in place), you’ll need to be signing up with your local yoga teacher first in order to learn the moves.
Moving towards and away from Kinect enlarges or decreases your size and this is key to near on all the success that Commander Cherry seeks. It all works pretty well although you will most definitely need to spend a little time configuring the human outline with your good self first. Failure to do so and you’ll struggle to even complete the first level and even then, the cutouts that are in place will very rarely look like those above and below. The odd lost head and missing arm are pretty par for the course with this puzzled journey but you shouldn’t let that put you off too much. Thankfully being able to remove or replace the snapshot of your body at any point allows even the most lethargic and stiff of players to eventually get the hang of things; just be sure you understand that any points gained will quickly be lost the more you tinker with your placements and the longer it takes Cherry to negotiate the mazes.
Struggling is also the case if anyone dares to spend some time with you in the same room whilst you help Cherry on his cause. Whilst a single player, alone in an empty room, will enjoy a great deal of success, the addition of further humans (or indeed pets) sends Kinect into a bit of a meltdown, spiralling your on-screen body out of control as it struggles to decide which of the movements it should be focusing on. For a game that is partly sold on the back of ‘co-op’ this is a strange deal and a real game killer. Grandé Games want one player to become the Kinect monkey, whilst another sits behind, controller in hand taking on the role of the Commander. Try and do this though and you’ll get so frustrated at the constant Kinect issues that you’ll give up almost before you start. By all means, sit a second person well out of the way of Kinect and things will work fine, but with many struggling for space in modern day homes, this may not be possible. Let anyone else watch you and it’s all a bit of a mess…although that doesn’t stop it from initially being hilariously good fun whilst the dog creates platforms in hard to reach areas.
If truth be told, as a single player game, Commander Cherry is good fun with clever levels designs and the constant upgrades of Cherry’s abilities ensuring that you never get bored. Whilst he initially is a little weak and useless, die enough times and Grande will take pity on you, whisking in a more powerful super jumping version of the Commander. It would have been nice to be able to make use of the double jump facility and laser upgrades just a tad more though as with these levels were much easier to complete and infinitely less frustrating.
Grandé Games have however delivered something pretty unique to the Xbox One library and anyone with Kinect attached to their console should at least give it a little go. Whilst I would have liked to see it priced a little more competitively (£7.99 should be the standard for Kinect titles), it’s not going to break the bank and will provide a good few hours of fun…and pain…but you’re warned of that before you even start! It’s not going to win any awards for best looking game, best platformer or even best Kinect title, but as a test of body contortion, there isn’t much else that provides on this scale.
Occasionally a game comes along that sounds absolute tripe and you’re on the back foot before you even get going. I had this exact thought when first venturing into Cherry’s world, but it thankfully turns out to be pretty fun to play. As long as you are in a nice open space with very little interference from others (or pets), then Commander Cherry should see you right!
Trust me on this one.