Review: Storm in a Teacup (Xbox Live)
I really wanted to like Storm in a Teacup. I like quirky off the wall games, I like platform games with a bit of exploration. I also like my games to be responsive, look nice, and feel right. Unfortunately Storm in a Teacup was more of the latter than the former.
Version Reviewed: 188.8.131.52
Storm in a Teacup has many issues, but the biggest and most obvious one is the same issue that developers Cobra Mobile had with their previous Xbox Live title, iBomber Defense. The frame rate is shockingly low. I'm at a loss to understand why, because Storm in a Teacup does not have complicated backgrounds, difficult renders, or detailed graphics to deal with. It's simply a teacup, pootling around a landscape with left and right controls, and a jump button to boost you up.
Add in a few more problematic issues, and I'm tearing my hair out at the missed opportunity this title represents.
Storm in a Teacup is a pretty standard affair, so don't expect any surprises when playing. You do need to familiarise yourself with the double tap of the jump button, which allows you to get a second boost while in mid-air. Even on the second level, this is a critical part of solving a level.
When you have a game that is not pushing the boat out and aiming for a gentle feeling, like putting a comfy jumper on, you need to get everything right. The controls need to be spot on, the level design needs to be clear and sensible, and the graphics need to behave themselves.
Storm in a Teacup manages just one of those, and to save you the frustration of guessing, it's the controls. They are very accurate, and you can be sure of making pixel perfect jumps when you need to. Taking a run (or at least sliding the teacup along the floor) means you can leave the jump to the very last moment to get as much distance as possible. When you are in the air and need to do a double jump, you're going to need to time it just right if you want to collect all the sugar cubes on a level, as well as the keys and items that will allow you to complete the level.
It's at this point that the title starts to go wrong. Let's talk about the level design. There are two flaws in my mind. The design leaves no option to explore the map. You move through the levels in an almost linear fashion, and when the path branches, you'll find one way is blocked by a door, which is invariably down the second path. To my mind, that is linear because there is only one possible route through the level. That makes for a boring game.
The second issue is based around the first, and that's when you are standing on a platform, and cannot see where you are going next. Any mystery on your leap of faith has been removed, because there is only one way to go. Once you get into that mindset, you just jump as high and as long as you can... and amazingly there is a platform waiting for you. No danger, no sense of accomplishment, just another forced jump you know you have to do.
Neither are the graphics anything to write home about. They are rather plain and flat, and there doesn't seem to be any thought in keeping the same style or relative size between different elements. They feel like placeholders designed by the coders before the art team get their hands on the resources.
And when you add all that up, Storm in a Teacup doesn't feel like it deserves to be something that anyone spend their leisure time on. The elements don't fit together, I never felt like I was playing in a cohesive world, and never once did I smile while playing the game.
There are times that games have to be released due to contracts and agreements. I suspect this is one of them, as it is another in the EA/Nokia exclusive arrangement for a number of games. That doesn't mean you have to buy the game. By all means look at the trial version, but I don't think this title is going to find many fans.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at