One of the privileges I get here at GameSpace is reviewing indie games that would otherwise fly under the radar. After all, this year has produced some epic content on the indie front. But in the midst of the whimsical and entertaining, there are others which fall from grace or fail to measure up to the high bar that we have set for what we expect out of a title. Buckle up, this one is going to be a doozie. This is our review of Crazy Dreams: Best of. (No, I didn’t have a stroke. That is the title.)
Crazy Dreamz: Best of is a spin-off of Crazy Dreamz: MagiCats Edition – a 2D, sandbox platformer with a twist: you create the levels a la Mario Maker. Where Crazy Dreamz: Best of… you know what, I’m just going to call it BO for the rest of the review… Where BO diverts from MCE is that instead of creating the levels yourself, you get to play the “best” of 100 user generated levels.
I have a love/hate relationship with BO. Conceptually, the idea of celebrating and fostering a community for user generated content is amazing. We wrote about that in relationship with Far Cry 5’s approach to the Far Cry Arcade. I also love that the money raised by this game’s sales will get kicked back 50/50 to the creators of these levels.
However, I hate the idea for the very same reason I has a strong disdain for talent shows: they only showcase the best of what’s in the room and there are typically a few painful acts by someone who has never been gently and graciously told that they should pursue something else… It’s harsh, but Timmy isn’t the next Bublé no matter how much Shandra wants him to be… his skills set may lie elsewhere.
Only a few levels into BO and it was clear to me that the talent show analogy is a fitting one, but I’m not entirely sure that the level creators are the ones solely to blame. After all, they are playing in someone else’s sandbox with tools and toys that are not their own. Much like entering someone else’s studio space, you can only use the equipment available to you.
This approach leaves a lot of room for frustrating inconsistencies for the player. When it comes to platformers, it is imperative that jumping and object collision are predictably precise. This is not the case for BO. While I am certainly not the pinnacle of precision, I am not new to platforming. There are moment were difficult platforming can be very satisfying, but with the inconsistencies and hefty gravity of your MagiCat, these otherwise satisfying moments were left wanting.
Outside of jumping, your MagiCat does have a staff with arcane powers for striking down your enemies… which are unpredictably hard. This is another element that seems to be modifiable by the content creator. I found that there were moments that were virtually unplayable without spending hours mastering and memorizing an enemy’s patterns.
With all of these criticisms, is there anything redeemable about BO? There are two things that I will celebrate about this game. The first is that as the sprites and scenery go, it is actually quiet charming. The MagiCat characters have a whimsy about them. The hand-drawn backgrounds and tile sets have a similarly whimsical style.
The second redemptive point has already been mentioned, but I will state it again: There is something very special about the partnership of a developer and their fan-base in the encouragement of creation. BO highlights the best their community has to offer. I hope that, even when creating within a broken system, these creators use this experience in strengthening their creative muscles and discovering where their skills set lies.
After all, Timmy may not be the next Bublé, but he does make a mean quesadilla.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on Steam with a code provided by PR.
COMPARE TO: MechoTales, Mario Maker
Final Crazy Dreams Review Score: 4/10
- Cute cat character and beautiful tile sets
- Cultivation of a community of creation
- Inconsistencies in platforming physics
- Even the top 100 levels had some pretty serious design flaws
- Mediocre gameplay