By: Matthew Striplen
I’m not going to beat around the bush. Movie-to-game adaptations do not have a good reputation, and unfortunately, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 falls into the same trap as countless predecessors. Cloudy 2 is a clone of the Fruit Ninja iPhone app, and it’s not a good one at that. The basic concept is the same, and the few tweaks made by the developers only serve to weaken the experience.
One of the best aspects of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 are the simple and intuitive controls, because they have hardly been changed from the iOS original. Only the stylus, instead of a finger, is needed for swiping food on the touchscreen. While simple, Cloudy does not improve on the existing controls laid out by Fruit Ninja. Additionally, the swiping reads consistently above where the stylus is touching, making certain precision cuts difficult.
The graphics are essentially inanimate copies of figures from the movie. This means none of the characters actually move or speak. All dialogue appears as text below the still images. Voice acting does appear in-game but only as congratulatory or consoling interjections. Ironically, the only character to speak their lines is a giant strawberry, which only talks in gibberish. Instead of picking the one non-English speaker to have voice acting, I would have preferred it to be the protagonist. Despite its small quantity, fans of the movie will be happy to know Cloudy 2 features the same voice actors as the film.
The environments are fun and colorful, which accurately recreate the zany world of the movie. The bottom screen, however, only shows a few different still wallpapers — more to come about the bottom screen below.
At its core, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is a watered down version of iOS classic Fruit Ninja. The basic elements are exactly the same: slice the food, avoid the bad things. The only difference is that in Fruit Ninja you only slice fruit, whereas in Cloudy 2 you slice all types of food. Fruit Ninja‘s bombs are replaced by burning items and Cloudy 2‘s power-ups are mostly useless.
Cloudy 2 even copies almost all the game modes from Fruit Ninja, except without the ability to select which one you want to play. The only main game mode unique to Cloudy 2 is the “Bar” mode. The object there is to fill the bar by slicing food before the timer runs out. Dropping food does not negatively impact the game’s progress, unlike the “Lives” setting, which is present in both games.
Though the similarities to Fruit Ninja are many, Cloudy 2 sports a few major differences. Cloudy 2 uses both screens, though unfortunately makes poor use of them. The top screen is very detailed, colorful and shows everything needed to play the game. The bottom screen displays a “lite” version of the top, meaning it still shows all the food the player needs to cut, but only their silhouette. Bad objects are displayed with a red silhouette. Instead of the bright and fun landscape of the top screen, the bottom has a still wallpaper backdrop. While different wallpapers are unlockable, none of them are particularly noteworthy. Since the bottom screen is the touchpad, the player will spend all their time looking at the cheap display rather than the polished one.
Another difference is the presence of “foodimals:” food that has turned into animals. Several different foodimals will accompany the player in most levels. A bar will appear above their head, which can be filled by slicing special items that appear a darker grey on the touchscreen. Once filled, the foodimal will be unlocked and become viewable in the foodimal section of the menu. For all their charm, foodimals are just trophies, void of practical value.
Power-ups are unlocked by slicing other dark grey special items, which are identical to the previously mentioned special items when viewed on the touchscreen. Collecting enough of these parts enables Flint Lockwood to “invent” a power-up. Although these can take a while to unlock, only four power-ups exist and do little to enhance the gameplay.
A few mini-games can also be unlocked, which are slight variants of the main game. While cute at first, they are nothing more than attempts to pad the game’s brief length, as they do not provide any benefits to the main game.
Each level, excluding mini-games, is rated with a three-star system identical to Angry Birds. The higher the score, the more stars are awarded. However, completing the game with all three stars does not award the player with anything other than bragging rights. The game’s ending is so abrupt, I was certain I hadn’t completed something, but I was, sadly, mistaken.
From start to finish, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is painfully easy. With only 34 levels, including mini-games, it’s not difficult to finish in a day. Keep in mind that each level, excluding mini-games, has a time limit of one minute, and the lack of difficulty actually discourages players from unlocking foodimals and other items. Since most levels can be completed with all three stars on the first attempt, players have little incentive to replay anything. The amount of special items required to unlock a foodimal, however, far exceeds the number available in one round.
Cloning a game requires serious creativity to bring new life to a classic. Unfortunately, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 feels like a cheap imitation and becomes another one of the multitudes of poor movie-to-game adaptions. Instead of adding new and innovative components, this game actually removes many elements that made Fruit Ninja great. So, if you’re looking for a great, action-packed and casual game, go with the $1 iOS original.