Cheesecake Cool Conrad opens with a cutscene in which the Banana King accidentally drops his wife, who is an ice cream. She shatters into many ice-cream-y crystals, which are dispersed across the universe, and it seems the only one who can help is Cool Conrad, who’ll be given the honour of marrying the Banana King’s daughter, Cheesecake Princess, if he can put Ice Cream Wife back together.
That’s the sort of game this is.
From the get-go, we can actually select from up to four characters, including Conrad and the Cheesecake Princess herself, so she’s obviously not playing too hard to get. This is presumably to allow for up to four-player co-op, but begs the question of why Conrad and CP don’t just elope, since they clearly want to hang out together regardless of whether her dad approves of their marriage. The art style falls somewhere between Adventure Time and Katamari Damacy – Conrad and Cheesecake Princess remind me pretty heavily of Finn the Human and Princess Bubblegum, while Banana King has some shades of Katamari‘s King of All Cosmos (in grandiosity if not in design). That’s about all you need to know about the story; certainly, it’s all the game really gives! We learn in the opening few moments that we are Conrad and our mission is to collect the shards of the ice-cream lady, then we just sort of head off and get on with it.
Gameplay-wise, you can sort of see what’s going on in the trailer: basically, Conrad can hop between tiny planets (they might not be planets, but I’m calling them that anyway), jumping around and changing gravity as he moves between them. I’m pretty sure I’ve played a Flash browser game with almost the same gimmick, but I doubt it had as much going on in the way of kooky obstacles and foes. Some of the planets Conrad has to hop on are hostile, though it doesn’t seem as if they mean to be; a big ol’ bubble of bubblegum bursts under the pressure, trapping Conrad, while a sleepy kitten might just yawn and suck Conrad right into its mouth if he stays on it for too long. There are also various mooks floating around trying to prevent Conrad from collecting all the crystals, including an angry cat with a gun and some sort of flying train… creature.
Conrad basically just has to work his way around each of the planets, avoiding the obstacles – you can find yourself dying quite quickly, but you’ll resurrect with no real penalty at the last checkpoint. In each mission, you have to collect four coloured crystals in order, which unlocks the door that completes the level, and there are also bonus cheesecake slices to collect (which I think are tied to unlocking future worlds, a bit like what Mario sometimes does with its big golden coin thingies).
It’s certainly a quirky little game, and one that does more with its simple concept than I was expecting. The variety of planets and enemies is nice – and each new obstacle is introduced at a good pace, so you can work out how to overcome it – and it is just generally pretty fun running around flipping gravity while some pretty funky background music slaps some bass in your ears. The bright colour palette and jazzy music don’t really fit the sombreness of the story, now I think about it. Shouldn’t we all be sad about poor Ice Cream Wife, who’s literally smashed into pieces? Conrad doesn’t really seem to know that that’s even what he’s doing, to be honest: his priority seems to be the possibility of getting a kiss from the Princess, and I hope it happens for him. Or, even better, she collects all the pieces herself before he can, because gurl don’t need no man.
For about a fiver, you can’t really go too wrong with Cheesecake Cool Conrad. It’s no Horizon: Zero Dawn or whatever, but it’s not trying to be. I don’t know that I’ll carry on playing it, because I don’t feel too much of a desire to find all the gems and reassemble the ice cream lady in order to get the slightly peculiar Conrad a maybe-kiss, but I didn’t dislike it.
Unlikely to leave the backlog, but a fun hour or so of planet-hopping.