While the old axiom that motion-picture tie-in videogames are by default poorly executed may no longer ring true for every case, there are plenty of exceptions that sadly remind you why this notion was conceived to begin with. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is one such videogame; a title in which nothing is particularly bad, but the sloppy relation to it’s source material reeks of a videogame built purely with the aim of spinning a quick buck.
The core gameplay experience is a series of increasingly complicated mini-games divided by story sequences told through dialogue boxes and still images. The basis of these mini-games is a lukewarm rendition of Fruit Ninja in which the action takes place on the top screen while the player swipes at silhouettes on the touchscreen. An odd and genuinely irritating design decision, yet sadly this is the bulk of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2’s offering.
For the uninitiated, Fruit Ninja is a videogame which gives the player a time limit in which to ‘cut’ as many pieces of fruit as possible as they are thrown onto the screen in a random order and fashion. Originally designed for mobile devices, Fruit Ninja has been translated to many different formats including the Xbox 360’s Kinect, however here on Nintendo 3DS the diminutive touchscreen does make the action feel somewhat claustrophobic. The Nintendo 3DS XL fares better of course, but that’s now only one third of the Nintendo 3DS family, and the most expensive member at that.
As the player progresses through the core gameplay mode Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 slowly introduces new mechanics. Beginning with combo bonuses and lives before moving on to special items or more select challenges, the system is far from groundbreaking but does manage to add something to the original Fruit Ninja formula. Whether Halfbrick Studios – the creators of Fruit Ninja – will see it that way is a different question altogether. Regardless of whether or not imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 has taken an indie concept and slapped a bug budget franchise on top of it in the hope of spinning a quick buck. It’s hardly a gratifying at appealing to a young audience in the wake of Pokemon X and Pokemon Y.
In addition to the core gameplay mode Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 also includes a Challenge mode, which is simply a high score challenge under varying conditions, and also the Lab. In the Lab players can use their unlocked items to do very basic things, such as change the background of the touchscreen, and also create inventions through a mini-game in which players must collect the right items. Here is where most of your time will be spent with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, as while the core gameplay mode can easily be completed in an afternoon finding all of the items necessary to complete that 100% score in the Lab is a more enduring task.
While Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 isn’t necessarily a bad videogame it’s rarely better than functional. If you tell someone that you have a low budget third-party version of Fruit Ninja themed around a kids film, it’s more than likely that they’ll envision exactly what Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 offers. To be blunt, your money would be better spent on Fruit Ninja itself – for a fraction of the price – but if your child is a huge fan of the film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 could make a reasonable stocking filler.
Don’t forget: You can win a copy of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 right here at Electronic Theatre. Simply visit the Win Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2! competition page for more details.