In NinjaBee's Outpost Kaloki X, style won out over substance: The production team wrapped a simple tycoon game in retro-space-age graphics and a swing-era soundtrack, saving what could have been a pumped-up version of Lemonade Stand. Similarly, NinjaBee's new XBox Live Arcade title, Cloning Clyde, initially looks like a side-scrolling platformer that hasn't evolved much from the Commodore 64's Impossible Mission, but it engages players with zippy animation and a novel sense of humor. You play Clyde, a drunken slob trapped in a clandestine cloning lab. An experiment goes awry, and suddenly, dozens of Clydes—all dressed in hospital johnnys, with their butts hanging out—get loose in the facility. Your job: help them escape.
You can switch control from one clone to another, or splice Clyde's DNA with that of a monkey, a frog, or even a Warner Bros.-esque barrel of TNT. For the first 10 or so levels, you'll have a blast testing your new abilities. But the joke runs dry early, as the game starts repeating puzzles without making them any harder. NinjaBee never ratchets up the chaos, either by adding more cloning (why not a TNT-frog-chicken?), or letting the Clydes get unruly, à la Michael Keaton in Multiplicity. From the slouching monkey form to the flocks of indestructible chickens that keep shooting out of pipes or bouncing into minefields, Cloning Clyde offers plenty of laughs, but the humor only runs skin-deep.
Beyond the game: Of course, it's hard to complain about a polished game that only costs 10 bucks.
Worth playing for: The thing with the chickens really never gets old.
Frustration sets in when: Controlling and arranging a dozen different Clydes can get tedious; it's a shame you can't bark orders to your other selves, instead of doing all the work yourself.
Final judgment: Good, clean fun—but how will it match up to the anti-cloning crowd's response, The Zany Adventures Of The Snowflake Babies?