Cranked Up

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC
Genre: Online Multiplayer
Developer: BBlack Studio
Release Date: 2020


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PC Preview - 'Cranked Up'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on May 21, 2020 @ 1:30 a.m. PDT

Cranked Up is a challenging and adventurous platformer where animal donuts have rockets and try to save their favorite cup of coffee - Mr. Mug.

The concept behind Cranked Up is slightly odd, so stick with me here. You control a hybrid animal-donut with rockets strapped to its sides. You can be a bear-donut, a cat-donut, a dog-donut, or countless other kinds of animal-donuts. You can even unlock more varieties of animal-donuts in case you want to switch it up. Some animal-donuts are unlocked by collecting currency in the stages, while others require you to finish certain levels.

Your animal-donut-with-rockets can only roll, and it can only do that with the air from their rockets. One rocket is bound to the left trigger, and the other is bound to the right trigger. Depending on the positioning of the rockets, they may cause you to zoom to the left or zoom to the right. If you spin too much, you'll need to adjust which rocket you're using to maintain momentum, and a single wrong button press can send you flying backward. You can also make a small hop or stop dead in your tracks by firing both rockets at once.

It sounds simple enough, and on paper, it is. Cranked Up is absolutely an "easy to learn, hard to master" game. In early stages, you need to have enough momentum to steer your animal-donut toward the mustachioed cup of coffee that represents the end of the level. As you advance, the game tosses new challenges at you. You may need to do some precision platforming by using your brakes to land on small platforms. You may also need to avoid dangerous obstacles, like fences or spikes, which can kill your animal-donut in one hit. (Thankfully, dying just takes you back to the nearest checkpoint.) 

In addition to finding the mustachioed cup of coffee, many stages also have optional objectives. The aforementioned currency is scattered around the levels and requires some tricky jumps to reach. In many cases, merely finishing the stage is far easier than getting all of the cash in the level. Many levels also have a secret cup of coffee that's filled with sprinkles; it unlocks a bonus challenge stage that's tougher than the normal ones. Not every stage has a secret, but many do.

In addition to single-player options, there is going to be a multiplayer mode. Up to four players can take control of their own animal-donut, which are bound together and can interact with one another. Rather than trying to reach the exit, you can perform death-defying feats of donut acrobatics to help your team. Since donuts can jump off one another and they all interact in the same environment, this offers a lot of potential for more death-defying action.

While it is an Early Access title, Cranked Up is perfectly fun to play. There are some rough bits, where the precision platforming can sometimes feel too punishing, the basic controls are very easy to pick up and offer a lot of room to grow. I went from doing small dashes and taking my time to zooming across levels and bouncing like a spring. Just as often, I hit LT instead of RT and sent my poor animal-donut flying backward off a cliff, but so it goes. For those who want to take a dip into the mustache coffee, go right ahead. The Early Access version of Cranked Up was available on Steam on May 19.

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