My infatuation with the Game Boy Micro has continued into 2014. Not content with the defeat of Final Fantasy V being the final use of this pocket portable, I recently jumped back into Kururin Paradise. The first game in the series, Kuru Kuru Kururin, was one of the very first Game Boy Advance games I played, thanks in part to the abundance of emulators and a console that wouldn’t arrive until Christmas time. It was great fun, but back then I was terribly inpatient, so I never completed it. Purchasing a Micro was first and foremost for tackling FFV, but hey, why not go for the nostalgia trip and purchase Kuru Kuru Kururin? A few days after starting, I’d beaten this puzzler.
If you’ve not played this game before, the concept is quite simple. You control a helicopter-like ship, which you only ever see from a top down perspective. What you must do is move through each level without touching the walls, or any other objects placed in the level to obstruct you. Using the d-pad allows you to move the ship, although the rotors are always moving at a fixed pace. This means you have to time your movements well, because you’re in for disaster if you’re inside a corridor and you rotate into the wall. It’s simple, fun, and devilishly difficult.
What I didn’t realise back in the day was that there was a GBA sequel, only released in Japan. While I cracked on with my FFV playthrough, I ordered it from a seller on eBay. I did play it a little when it arrived, but I was ultimately distracted by other games. Kururin Paradise eventually became a game I’d play in bed, conquering a few levels before sleeping.
If you thought Kuru Kuru Kururin was hard, just wait until you get your hands on this. To be honest, a lot of the levels aren’t all that bad, as the difficulty comes with levels that feature keys, and levels that feature doors that use these keys. These levels have alternate routes, and while you don’t really need to complete those routes as soon as you see them, you do need to come back and complete them in order to unlock the final level. Getting to these keys can put you in some quite literal tight spots, but that’s not even the worst of it. No, there were three levels in particular that really held me up.
The first was one of the levels I revisited after obtaining the key for the alternate path. Unfortunately I don’t know the name of it (it was in Japanese, surprisingly!) but it featured ghosts that would latch onto the Helirin (ship), slowing you down and making you far more likely to hit the stage walls in tight corridors. The second level that gave me trouble was immediately after this one, again featuring these pesky ghosts. Seriously, when you finally master the art of manoeuvring your Helirin, it’s pretty difficult to adjust when it suddenly moves sluggish but rotates just as quickly.
The final level that gave me problems is, as you’d hope would be the case, the final level. It’s not accessible until you’ve beaten all of the minigames (you have to play these at the end of each route and zone), which means you must collect all keys and complete all the levels in order to play it. It’s split into three different sections; a maze of narrow paths that makes use of all of your ship-manoeuvring skills, an area riddled with moving blocks that are just waiting to crush your ship and block your way, and an absolute mess of constantly moving spiked balls to weave yourself through.
The first section wasn’t bad at all, and I’d complete this section without taking a hit about 95% of the time. The moving block section, however, was utterly maddening. The gaps between the blocks never allowed your Helirin to be outstretched, so you had to make use of any space you could get, while being concious of the blocks trying to crush you and/or block your route. I can’t honestly tell you how hard the third section was, as the first and only time I made it out of the second part alive, I managed to beat it. Not unscathed I might add, but dodging fireballs in the previous level certainly helped me notice patterns and opportunities.
My success was met with a roar of joy (which may have sounded suspiciously like a squeal to anyone nearby) and plenty of photos to prove my victory. Kururin Paradise is finally beaten, and the series is on hold until I figure out whether to import the GameCube-only title, as well as a freeloader. For now, I’m going to play a game that isn’t quite as stressful. How does Mega Man sound?