With the popularity of minimalist quickie games like Doodle Jump, Stick Wars and Defend Your Castle, it seems that developers have discovered a dirty little secret. More often than not, casual gamers care more about simple, “jump-right-in” gameplay than all the fancy bells and whistles of a big-budget game. Just look at the App Store Top 10.
Stupid Cloud! comes right in on the back of Doodle Jump, with a similar hand-drawn design that almost plays like its stepbrother in reverse. But while it’s accessible to even the most casual of gamers, its lack of what’s become a requirement for mini-games–online scoring–handicaps it in comparison to its brethren.
The gameplay boils down to catching random food items that fall out of the eponymous Stupid Cloud, using an accelerometer-controlled prairie dog/gopher/rodent thingy. As the creature advances through each level, each successive Stupid Cloud drops the food at a higher rate with increasingly unpredictable movement. Additional lives are granted at 300-point intervals.
And that’s basically it. The game doesn’t ask much of its players. There’s virtually no thinking involved, just tracking this little rodent under a shower of hot dogs, teddy grahams and pickles, among other foods and items. Simplicity is hardly a bad thing in these minigames, and the gameplay mechanic works incredibly well. Stupid Cloud! loads up nice and quick, its accelerometer tilt control is spot on and it’s perfect for the attention span required for an urban commute on public transportation.
But Stupid Cloud! most definitely skews towards the low end of the complexity scale, even by the standard of these games. In a game like Doodle Jump, there are curveballs thrown in like random monsters, different platform types, and shooting. The stick figure games can get intensely interactive while flicking the screen. In Stupid Cloud!, it’s the same routine over and over again.
And that’s potentially fine, as long as there’s some incentive to keep playing. With only local scoring–you’re basically playing against yourself–motivation fades relatively quickly. Global scoring would at least open up the playing field so you could see how you stack up against others playing the game. And these days, it’s almost a requirement on any arcade-style minigame.
Stupid Cloud! isn’t a bad game, just very, very basic. Its main selling points will be its cute, hand-drawn style and its easy gameplay. But at the moment, with its lack of features and little comparative depth, it fails to stack up against the plethora of other minigames in its class.