It seems just like two days ago Nitrome released a free Flash game. Oh wait, it was two days ago! With Magneboy still attracting our attention, Nitrome today unveiled Cheese Dreams, a cute little platformer starring a bouncy bit of cheese (which just so happens to be the moon), mice in spacesuits, and Mario-esque pipes that send you soaring. As our orange protagonist snoozes one night, a massive mouse spaceship comes along and scoops it right up. Is it all just a bad dream, or are these mice really that obsessed with cheese?
The sleepy ball of cheese bounces on its own, you can only control direction using the [arrow] keys. Slopes make it difficult to progress, as one would expect, and must be tackled with carefully timed bounces to get the most forward progression out of your air time. Stars are scattered throughout the purple-laden spaceship (interior design by Prince, methinks?) and are tallied into your score at the end of the level.
Enemies can only be avoided, so... avoid them! Pipes throughout the levels transport you across the stage and blast you upwards for some extra hang time. Use them to traverse dangerous territory or to climb onto platforms otherwise inaccessible. You'll spend most of your time dealing with mice in balls and mice in wheels, however. Rolling balls and turning wheels is accomplished by bouncing on one of the edges over and over again, slowly tilting the orb to one side. Nitrome makes clever use of these familiar puzzles in a few places, and when combined with other environmental objects (reverse gravity buttons, anyone?), make for a very interesting time.
Analysis: As per Nitrome's norm, Cheese Dreams is a colorfully animated bouncy world of really cute sprites dancing across your screen. The game itself, while not breaking any mold in particular, manages to come across as exciting and fresh. The physics are well-tuned, if a bit heavy, but natural enough to keep the learning curve to a minimum and the path to mastery an enjoyable one.
Some of the levels feature a few points of excessive frustration by requiring precise timing or landing with the ball of cheese. Seeing as how this is an arcade platformer, your first instinct will be to Sonic-dash through every obstacle in your way. These rough spots force you to calm down and think things through before flailing on the keyboard. The gameplay is very reminiscent of Nifflas' Within a Deep Forest, though without the power-ups and a stronger focus on ball physics.
Great looking, great sounding, and a fairly well-balanced game that's perfect for casual gamers.