Whenever you see a game that puts you in the action, you probably assume that it's no good. However, Commander Cherry does a decent job of combining both camera and controller to create one enjoyable adventure. If you're ready, say "cheese!" and let's begin.
You control Commander Cherry just like in any stereotypical 2D platformer. He runs, jumps, shoots a laser gun, and collects power-ups that allow him to double-jump. But, things aren't so simple when he runs into large gaps and tricky situations that he can't overcome on his own. This is where you come in. Using your Kinect (or PlayStation 4 Camera), you can take a picture of yourself to become a platform that the commander can climb to reach previously inaccessible areas. This works for the most part with the exception of having portions of your living room in the shot since it doesn't always crop you out perfectly. Also, I ran into a couple of odd technical issues such as when Cherry was in a tight space and moon-walked instead of going forward only to fall and meet his maker, but these didn't happen often enough to take away from the fun. Overall, it's an interesting premise that results in a very unique game.
The story starts with Commander Cherry flying around in his spaceship (that's basically a raw steak) only to crash into a statue thus decapitating it in the process. Then, he explores this strange planet on a quest to restore the statue to its former glory. A couple of deity-like entities (one being a cauliflower who's constantly dashing salt on a stock of celery and the other being a seal in a wig and toga) observe him from afar as he treks through the dangerous lands. It's absolutely ridiculous and had me regularly laughing out loud. Even thinking about it now makes me smile. Anyway, the graphics aren't anything particularly special since they're just composed of solidly-coloured geometric shapes, but they do a good job of helping you distinguish platforms and points of interest. The best part of the presentation is the voices. When you hear the goofy announcer congratulate you on a job well done or witness one of the deities screaming across the screen; it really amplifies the craziness to an outrageous degree.
One aspect in which Commander Cherry's Puzzled Journey excels is its gradual progression. Each of the game's nine levels introduces a new mechanic such as different enemies, having your image move across the screen, and the ability to speed up and slow down time. Near the end of the journey, you'll be impressed by how complicated things have evolved since the beginning. You can master each level by acquiring points which are awarded according to how efficiently you make it through that level's sections and are taken away every time you bite the dust. Being able to obtain all of the available points is next to impossible without obsessive practice which will surely inspire the perfectionists out there to keep trying. Although these levels are exceptionally lengthy, there are still only nine of them to conquer. That being said, the ending is phenomenal once you complete them all.
The most notable downside is that Commander Cherry's Puzzled Journey establishes its unique premise perfectly through its quirky gameplay and sense of humour yet it features almost no additional content. This ends up making the game feel like it's not living up to its full potential. In other words, if you make something as unique as this then why not play with the formula to create a variety of modes such as mini-games or multiplayer? There aren't even any leaderboards. The only included extra is that you unlock mirror mode after beating the campaign. This is basically the same experience except your image is flipped which makes things a lot more challenging. Besides that, I guess you could try to find the hidden banana in each level, but these extras are more superficial than anything.
Commander Cherry's Puzzled Journey is an ideal adventure for those who have an insane sense of humour and are looking for a game that throws all conventions out the window in favour of providing a good time. Although you probably won't play it for countless hours, its original concept definitely makes it a worthwhile title if you're a member of its target audience.
- + Absurd humour is accomplished superbly
- + Interesting concept that actually works
- + Well-paced campaign slowly ramps up to a very memorable finale
- - Small occasional technical issues
- - Only nine levels to work through
- - The lack of extras and online features is a missed opportunity