Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey may be one of the strangest games to be released on the Xbox One to date. Heralded as the world’s one and only yoga-action-platformer, Commander Cherry lets gamers stretch and platform in unexpected ways. The game is oddly reminiscent of the XBLA title Fret Nice in art style, gameplay and quirkiness. After being turned off initially by the bizarre quirkiness, I enjoyed Commander Cherry — a sentiment that might not be universally shared, as it’s a good Kinect game, but one that’s rough around the edges.
Here’s what I liked:
Fantastic concept — Having the Kinect act like a camera by taking a picture before inserting that picture into the game as a playable interactive environment is a smart idea. I’m actually surprised this hasn’t been done more. In this instance, the Kinect’s weakness of precisely tracking quick movements is covered up and allows for its detailed projection on screen to shine. What’s left is a slower-paced game that anyone can partake in. I like it.
Mirror mode — Mirror mode strangely turns the Kinect cam display area upside down. The player’s feet are pointed to the sky and head toward the ground. Lifting your hands into the air in real life will cause them to lower on screen and vice versa. It’s a blessing that left and right weren’t inverted as well since that would cause for some major headaches. Although some segments feel out of place, the game runs well enough with the inverted settings, and it creates an interesting spin on the original gameplay. Some gamers may not like this somewhat disorienting mode, but I found it to be interesting.
Here’s what I disliked:
Gameplay system should be reworked — I can respect that it’s not timed, and instead, the player is required to be precise. However, precision becomes a hassle when the player inevitably misses one orb in a section while posing for the Kinect. If caught early, the player can remove the placed picture for a score deduction and try again. Otherwise you’ll be backtracking to the build spot or returning to the last checkpoint to redo the picture. In all instances, it aggravatingly stops the flow of the game. Close enough should be an acceptable thing in Kinect games. I’ve had numerous instances where I had the pose just right and either moved out of range ever so slightly at the last second, or had the Kinect spaz out and incorrectly track my position. It was tiring to deal with.
The sum of its parts — The sum of something’s parts doesn’t always make for something better. Here, level eight is a combination of every element from previous levels, and the result is a Frankenstein creation that wasn’t fun. Specifically, I did not like the lasers from level 7 being used with the moving platforms gimmick. With those two elements combined, lasers would often find a way to poke through open holes to grief the player. In general, I don’t think the lasers worked very well in this environment, and I wouldn’t be sad to never see them again.
Commander Cherry is a good title to play for those in the mood for some Kinect action. However, it will neither convince someone to buy a Kinect, nor convince anyone who hates the thought of playing any games with a Kinect to rethink their position. A fair assumption that can be imposed is that a majority of players will get turned off by the strangeness of Commander Cherry, but I’d recommend it for its unusual fun; there’s something satisfying about jumping around on yourself.
Score: Try It
Achievement notes: The Achievements are about as strange as the game itself. Four of the 10 can be obtained within two minutes of starting the game. Three of them are done in the main menu screen, although one of those three is only available after collecting all of the hidden banana collectibles. The only difficult task obtaining a Yogawesome level ranking on each of the eight stages (not counting the Finale or mirror mode). Perfection is nearly required in the early levels, but after level four, the laser power-up can help farm Chi if the player starts to make too many mistakes. It’s boring this way, but effective.
Commander Cherry’s Puzzled Journey was developed and published by Grandé Games on Xbox One. It was released on August 14, 2015 for $13.99 with a launch discount for gold members at $9.79. A copy was provided by Grandé Games for review purposes.