Game Title: The Legend of Kusakari
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Type: 3DS
Download: 319 Blocks
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download
Have you ever thought to yourself, ‘What if The Legend of Zelda wasn’t about fighting enemies and taking down Ganon? What if it was about using your sword to attack and chop down grass? What if that was the whole point of the game?’ No? Well, I can’t say I had ever thought about that during my childhood when I was enjoying Ocarina of Times back when it first came out. It’s a hypothetical question for something that would never really ever be a reality.
Or will it? The game I have to review for you today is something like that. Plays like Zelda, but is more of a scenario of exactly what I said in the above paragraph. Being a Zelda-like game that shows us what would happen if Zelda was actually about cutting grass, here is my review of The Legend of Kusakari!
In the story of this game, the world as we know it is under attack by a Demon King and his army of monsters. With everyone running for their lives and hiding in their homes, a hero must step up and protect the world from harm, sword and shield in hand. But what about the hero’s journey? Must he try to fight monsters knee-deep in tall, unmowed grass? No, for an elderly mower armed with a scythe steps up to carve the path for the hero to fight on freshly-mowed grass.
I don’t know how many of you readers are now looking at your computer, phone, and tablet screens wondering if I’ve completely lost it. But, that is actually the story of this game. A hero goes to fight, and you are the mower cleaning the grass for his patch. It’s strange, and the lack of story but every chapter is even stranger for this kind of game, but there it is. I can’t say I can give props to the game for its story, but it does do good at being Zelda-like.
To be honest, I’m not sure how to classify this game. There isn’t really a genre it goes into. Action-Adventure would kind of hint that you fight monsters, which you don’t. Let’s just call it by the wacky name that I’ve come up with. The Legend of Kusakari is a grass-cutting puzzle game. There, I said it.
From the game’s Main Menu, you basically have Mission Mode, Endless Mode, and Options to go into. Mission Mode takes you through the 50 levels that make up the plot. Endless Mode is similar, but it just has you endlessly playing levels until you finally lose one. Then we have Options, which lets you see unlocked artwork and change game settings, like turning music on or off.
There’s not much to say about the separate modes, just go into a mode, select a stage, and go at it. So, let’s skip straight to how the game works. In each stage, you’re thrown in a 2D-ish environment with one goal: Cut All The Grass. You just navigate the level and you clear it once every blade of grass has been cut down by your scythe.
Of course, it isn’t really that simple. You have to cut the grass, but you also have to avoid NPCs and enemies that wander each stage. Getting hit by one of them lowers your health. To make things even more tense, many levels later in the game have gradually depleting HP, making you go through as quickly as possible and making you form strategies on when you need to direct yourself to the nearest Blue Grass, which functions as a healing herb.
That part above makes up a lot of the strategy, aside from all of the environment changes and maze-like level designs. But there are also some mild RPG elements thrown into the game as well. The more grass you cut in a single level, the more experience you get, allowing you to level up. Leveling makes your attacks have better range, be it a normal or spinning attack. This is also a key element to mastering the later levels of the game.
Now, I wouldn’t call this game difficult for a puzzle game. Most levels only took me a couple tries to get them right and pass them. However, I wouldn’t call it easy, either. A lot of good timing is called for and for a lot of the later half of the game, you’ll have to be dashing, which makes it very easy to get hit by enemies. It definitely takes practice and skill, but not a whole lot of it.
As far as length is concerned, don’t get too excited. Zelda titles normally last many hours, if not longer. With 50 levels to its campaign, and an average of 2-3 minutes per level, accounting for retries, I would be surprised if the story takes you more than 2 hours to finish. It’s certainly not a short game, and not surprising, given that it only uses a portion of the Zelda formula and creates a game out of it. Even with the $4.99 price tag, just be warned that you’re paying for only an hour or two of gameplay.
For a 3DS title, this game has an odd lack of control variety. First of all, you don’t use the touch screen for anything. When was the last time you played a 3DS game that had no touch controls? Not that it’s a bad thing, since the game is fast-paced, but it’s an interesting observation I made as I played my copy of the game.
In menus, you can use the D-Pad for navigation, but once you hit a stage, that is solely utilized with the Circle Pad. The D-Pad is pretty much disabled during actual levels of the game. Speaking of controls in levels, the L and R triggers are used for dashing. A is used for a spinning slash, and B is used for cutting. Finally, Start and Select pull up the menu to restart a stage or go back to the Main Menu. And that’s about it.
I can’t say it’s the best-looking game on the 3DS. There are some jagged edges, but I can’t really complain. It doesn’t look terrible, but it doesn’t look great, either. I’ll just say that its design fits the scenario and the graphics aren’t the prettiest, but can be forgiven.
The menu music, though. I have no issues with the music in stages. It’s nice and kind of relaxing while you go and hack at that tall grass. But the menu music. The way they set up the quality of those trumpet noises drives me crazy. It got to the point where I intentionally muted my 2DS every time I had to go back to the menu screen, just so I wouldn’t have to listen to that music.