Reviewed: October 2, 2006
Released: July 19, 2006
For me, Cloning Clyde represents everything that I love about the concept behind XBLA (Xbox Live Arcade). In a day where powerhouse development teams make games requiring teams of 60+ men, thousands of man-hours, years of hard work and millions of dollars – XBLA is there to promote small business. Anyone who has even a smidge of creativity and talent can make a game for XBLA, and with any luck springboard their small business into the mainstream to hopefully, one day, share retail space with the likes of Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, Bungie and other industry big hitters.
Game creation for XBLA doesn’t have many rules. The games need to be simple, not requiring manuals and such; they need to be downloadable in trial form, and most importantly, they need to fit within the confines of 50mb or less. While this might sound like a small game in comparison to some, one only needs to play a title like Cloning Clyde to see what can be done within the restrictions of this creation process.
In my opinion, this game is one of the current and greatest examples of what can be done, and I’m sure it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Sure, having the opportunity to download classics like Galaga and Pac-man is great, especially if you like to re-live the past, but it doesn’t really make one feel good to be putting more money into the pockets of the upper-class. Especially when the creators of games like this and Marble Ultra Blast are far more deserving of your money and recognition.
The idea and basic principle behind Cloning Clyde is rather simple; I guess for an XBLA game, it pretty much has to be. Clyde, being the complete moron that he is, submits himself to an experiment to gain a measly $20. As a result Clyde is cloned numerous time and with gameplay very reminisce to classic games such as Lemming, Clyde has to work his way through 25 levels to free not only himself, but also all of his clones.
The game is essentially a side-scrolling platformer. Throughout the game you can assume control of any Clyde’s within the level, working them independently to pull levers and hit switches in order to move each of them to an open ventilation shaft so they can escape.
While the game does have some hazards, like the security bots and landmines, the game doesn’t really focus so much on action as it does on problem solving. Each level is designed to challenge the gamer and force them to think about the best way to free all of your clones in order to move on to the next stage.
While some of the stages can be rather simple, some are designed to pretty much screw the player over and in some cases force them to start over again, hopefully with a better strategy. In some cases, you can make it to the end of the level, but because of poor planning, you may have trapped one or more of your clones in such a way that they can’t escape the stage. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing - leaving clones behind, it’s very much a primary goal of the game to try and free them all. It’s not something that has to be done, but it does give you something to shoot for.
Throwing some comedic twists into the game, there are genetic splicing machines that allow you to mix Clyde’s DNA with those of various animals. Splice yourself with a frog and you can jump farther and swim under water without needing air. Splice yourself with an ape and you can climb better, swinging across ceilings and such. Splice yourself with a chicken, and while not possible in the real world, you can fly – and rather humorously I might add. As it stands, gene splicing is a largely necessary part of the game, and you simply cannot complete some levels without the enhanced skills you gain from doing so.
For bonus points and achievements there are Killer Ken action figures to collect and for a little added strength there are DNA strands to gather, which enhance Clyde’s lame kung fu-like abilities, thus making it easier for him to dispatch the security bots.
Adding a little extra to an already great little game are some online multiplayer modes. With some cooperative and versus options, the game is given a little more life and makes the spending on your Marketplace Points that much easier to swallow. Co-op is essentially the same as the single player game, 2-4 players, all on one console or online work together to play through the various levels as a team. Versus, is much the same, but with different maps, where the players must work together to destroy their opponent’s security bots. Splicing with the games various animals come in to play as well, as does the serious need for planning and co-operation.
Cloning Clyde is a sidescroller with a 3-Dimentional edge. As it stands, the game is rather unique visually and looks an awful lot like a claymation / cell-shaded puzzler. Anyone remember Clay Fighters from back on the N64? Well it’s similar in some ways to that. Overall the game is extremely pleasing to the eyes and has a very subdued colour palette – using a great deal of soft and calming pastels.
The animations are also worth noting as all characters within it move along smooth as silk. Much of the work regarding the characters and their movements are clearly designed to evoke laughter from the player – as it sometimes can. Not only is the fact that Clyde, well…. all of the Clyde’s wear hospital smocks that expose their bare buttocks humorous, but the way the camera zooms in when he spazzams and contorts from being spliced with animals is equally so.
It’s just a great game in so many ways, and it’s hard not to be impressed by the fact that it’s a mere XBLA game. Trust me, kicking chickens around the level; being sucked down drains and catapulted into the air is pretty clever stuff. All said and done, the game is graphically brilliant; from level and character design, to animations and the use of humour – Cloning Clyde has it all covered to a tee.
Except for the title screen, the game is completely devoid of music, so I’ll skip right over than and move on to the sound effects.
Much like the visuals, which attempt to add humour to the game, the sound pretty much shoots for the same goal. Clyde says virtually nothing at all, but he does mumble. In fact, the 360’s controller has a face button strictly dedicated to making Clyde do nothing but say “Duh!” and murmur something that sounds like “I dunno!” He also throws out some Bruce Lee karate banter whenever he’s attacking enemies – Hiiiyaaaaah! Other than that, he’s pretty quiet.
Other great sound effects include clucking chickens, goofy sounding machinery and my personal favourite, the sucking, swirling sound of Clyde being pulled down a drain. All the effects are very well executed and suit the game beautifully. Outside of a little music, the game doesn’t miss a beat.
With 25 Levels, six versus arenas, 40 co-op levels, plenty of items and clones to collect and save – and a great sense of humour, this game is pretty beefy. If you like puzzlers with some light platforming action, then download Cloning Clyde right now. It’s worth every one of your 800 Marketplace Points. Nuff Said.
Like is said at the beginning. Cloning Clyde represents everything that is exciting and innovative about XBLA. It’s a slick game with pleasing visuals and sound, enjoyable and challenging gameplay, and all around great presentation. It really is difficult for me to find even one thing to complain about with this title. For what it is, it’s truly exceptional.
Considering this game is only 400 points more than something as simple and technically boring (by today’s standards) as say, Pac-man and the other retro classics, this game is an extremely easy title to recommend. Cloning Clyde is in my opinion; one of the best games to hit Xbox Live Arcade to date; and well worth the price of admission. Check it out.