Don’t let the cute visuals deceive you; Kururin Squash is one tough game. Published by Nintendo, and developed by Eighting, it is one of the latest GameCube exclusives to hit Japan. Although this title will probably never see the light of day outside of Japan, do not let the game pass you by; it is a unique experience that should not be missed by anyone – and that requires no knowledge of Japanese to enjoy.
Although, overall, the graphics are done quite well, there are a few instances of slowdown due to the number of objects on the screen. In a game that, at times, requires razor-sharp precision, this can hurt.
The cut scenes in Kururin Squash, which tell the story, are beautifully done. Puppet show-like in nature, the backgrounds are flat and the characters, clouds, and other objects are suspended with wire and sticks. Think Paper Mario.
The sound effects, meanwhile, do the job, but the characters’ voices are squeaky, annoying noises that get old after not too long a time.
The Adventure Mode revolves around the journey of Kururin, a precious, goggle-wearing blue bird who is on a quest to save his missing family (thankfully, the story has no bearing on the gameplay). In short, you must pilot a slow-spinning helicopter, which is really a rotating stick, through some well-designed mazes, all the while avoiding walls and enemies. It’s a bit more difficult than it reads, however, because the helicopter is constantly spinning.
Kururin Squash is divided into several worlds, each with approximately six levels and a boss battle. Adding variety to the levels are the six different types of controllable helicopters. In addition to the basic helicopter, there are helicopters that submerge under water; that shoot out flames on both sides; that have boxing gloves spring forth from the sides; that project rapidly-firing bullets; and that blow gusts of wind. So, obviously, there is much more to do than just navigate through mazes; there are also lots of baddies to blow up.
Scattered throughout the levels are coins, which you may redeem for some pretty cool items at shops. Not only can you buy power-ups, but you can also buy movie clips that show expert airborne maneuvers (which help when you are stuck in a level or when you want to locate the best route). Also available are cosmetic upgrades for the helicopters; these, however, don’t provide any kind of performance upgrade. One notable item is some GBA-GCN connectivity. It’s nothing more than a quiz game, and unless you know Japanese, it’s useless. But, it’s there, and it’s a nice addition.
The coin collecting and the huge number of items available to buy not only add an extra layer of depth to the game, but also serve as motivation to explore every corner of every maze to collect 100% of the coins.
The game also features a Time Attack Mode, which makes use of an additional 40 or so courses.
The controls are great. Simple, but virtually perfect:
After completing the training levels, the helicopter feels like an extension of your body.
Unlike most games in this generation, Kururin Squash will make you sweat, swear, and maybe cause you to throw your controller against the wall. It will test your patience, and you will play some of the more difficult levels over and over and over again. Fortunately, for those who find the difficulty a bit much, there’s an option to use a compact-sized helicopter.
Battle Mode plays a lot like the Monkey Battle party game from Super Monkey Ball, but with more power-ups and weapons. Four players are put on a map, and then it’s every bird for itself. There are ten battle stages, as well as options to change the time limits and handicaps.
Race Mode serves up over 40 courses. The competition can get quite ruthless; often times, your helicopter has to spin into position to continue forward into a narrow space or past a spinning obstacle. And while you’re waiting for it to get into position, you’ll find yourself bumping other players into the walls, trying to destroy their helicopters.
At a time when most developers are relying on the tried-and-true formulas, Kururin Squash offers a fresh and welcome – not to mention inexpensive (under $40) – experience. If you don’t import this game, you’re missing out.
TOP OF PAGE