Saturday, 30 July 2016

Puzzle Games #20

Kero Kero Keroppi no Daibouken (1991)
By: Character Soft Genre: Puzzle Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Nintendo NES First Day Score: 14,400
Also Available For: Nothing

There are several members of the animal kingdom whose presence in a game is usually a good sign of its quality. Everyone knows if a game stars a monkey or a penguin, it's likely to be good, for example, and frogs have a pretty good track-record so far too. I was therefore keen to check out this game after seeing its smiling amphibious star beaming out from its cover, who is, I believe, named Keroppi. It's hard to be totally sure as the game was perhaps unsurprisingly a Japanese exclusive, but he shall henceforth be referred to accordingly anyway. After muddling through a couple of options screens (which allow you to choose one or two players, and whether to start a new game or enter a code), it quickly becomes clear that his game is not only a puzzle-based one but also aimed at younger players too. As Keroppi (probably), it's your job to rescue what appears to be a female frog named Keroleen (so identified by her large eyelashes and what look like pigtails) who has become 'trapped in the castle'.

This is done over eight 'worlds' (or castles) which each consist of up to eight single-screen stages. The first world has four but they get more numerous as you go. There are, however, only four types of stage, some of which might be repeated within a world. Each type is represented by a fruit - apple, grapes, pineapple, lemon. Most simple are the grapes stages which literally just task you with following a narrow path across a bubbling pool of... something. Next easiest are the apple stages which feature small mazes. Here you just need to collect the items and reach the exit but it's not quite as easy as that - there are directional arrows and you have to travel blindly under the grassy areas through tunnels. For the pineapple stages you have to cross another pond (calmer looking, this time) by hopping over lily pads. The snag here is that the pads only let you hop in one direction, and that direction changes when you land on it.

Probably toughest are the lemon stages. These are similar to Othello (the game, not the Shakespeare play) in that there are a load of circular tiles which are each one of two colours. Your job is to hop across them to the exit but you can only hop onto other tiles of the same colour, and the colours reverse when you land. There are a few items to be found dotted around - ice creams give you extra time, clouds allow you to start a stage again, hearts grant access to a bonus stage, etc - but that's about all there is to Keroppi's Big Adventure (to use the translated title). Its target audience means there's obviously nothing too taxing here and it should be possible for even children to finish the game before too long. Having said that, there is a big difference in difficulty between the types of stage. I expect even concussed tapirs could manage the grape stages but the lemon stages require much more trial and error.

It is nonetheless a game for those pesky ankle-biters though, so its appeal to grown ups like this esteemed blogger is limited. The graphics are pretty good - most of the game is bright and colourful and the characters are mighty appealing, and the same can be said of the audio which consists of many pleasant plinky-plonky tunes and inoffensive spot effects, so I imagine it would appeal to kiddies, probably today as much as back at the start of the 90's too. I'm glad I have now identified the happy hopper that caught my eye, too, and added his great adventure to my ever-increasing retro gaming memory bank. I would definitely add it to my collection if I collected for the Famicom (that bright happy cartridge is great!) and it was good, innocent, frustration-free fun while it lasted too. It may even work as a stress-reliever! It does become a bit samey but it might be a good title for introducing your own children to the wonderful world of retro. Who knows- maybe you'll enjoy it too.

RKS Score: 6/10

Gameplay Video: here's a taster of the smiling frog, Keroppi, and his happy game courtesy of YouTube user, GrandMasterLynx.


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