Kuru Kuru Kuruin
Possibly one of the cutest puzzle games for the GBA, but is it worth the import? Find out inside.
A long time ago in a crappy NJ dump far, far away I traded a little gem for the PSOne called Irritating Stick, a devilishly addictive and also annoying game that requires you to maneuver a stick through electrified metal rods. Anyway, I received $1 for it and have regretted the trade decision ever since, but Nintendo's managed to ease my pain with a similarly irritating game of its own called Kuru Kuru Kururin, and I must say that if you plan on doing some GBA importing that this quirky and addictive title should be at the top of your list.
In Kururin you take control of a hovercraft piloted by a duck that's trying to free kidnapped little ducks (in other words, the story's not important). The trick is that said hovercraft is always spinning and to make matters worse it can only hit the sides of a maze three times before exploding, so the game is really all about timing. If the maze bends to the right you need to wait until the hovercraft has spun around to a position that'll be easy to guide it through, and to spice things up some of the levels have these springs that, when touched, reverse the direction of your craft, a necessity if you want to complete the game. Also, if you want to make good time (because you're always battling the clock), don't ever touch the maze because it adds precious seconds to your time, though in theory, you shouldn't want to ever touch the mazes anyways.
Kururin's gameplay is addictive but at times it's also maddeningly frustrating. It's not the sort of game that you'd play on a train, while walking, or when you're extremely tired since it's very easy to make horrible decisions, especially when you think that you have enough space to push the hovercraft through a gap when in fact you don't, and nothing sucks more than grazing the edge of a maze while low on health and half a second away from a goal. Thankfully, there are health points that when entered will heal you up, but if your skills aren't sharp you're going to be doing a ton of restarting.
Critics of this game (misguided fools that they are) cite its length to be its primary drawback, and of course I strongly disagree. There are a multitude of single player missions, a practice mode that allows you to replay the mazes, and a multiplayer mode where you can race up to three other people using only a single cartridge.
Nintendo's put together some amazing aural and visual presentations on the GBA and Kururin is definitely one of the system's stand-out games. Its graphics are very detailed and feature a diverse collection of backgrounds, some of which are quite strange but in a cute way, and the music is pretty good, nothing that I want to jam in my car to, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Although it's a little difficult to find, tracking down a copy of Kuru Kuru Kururin is time well spent. It's a cute and challenging game that falls into the pile of cool import GBA titles that have never been released in the U.S., and because there's no lock out protection you can just pick it up, slap it into your GBA, and get maneuvering! Not the most advanced game on the market, but certainly a lot of fun, Kuru Kuru Kururin truly shines.
What's Hot: Very import friendly, and the gameplay is addictive
What's Not: If you desire to actually know what's going on, then Japanese you must learn.