Title : Clu Clu Land
Publisher : Nintendo
Developer : Nintendo
Genre : Puzzle
Players : 1/2 Player
Release Date : 1985
Estimated Value (as of today's date) : $15-$20
There's nothing quite an old-school black box NES puzzle game to re instill my faith in the NES console. Of course, with a name like Clu Clu Land, it's kind of hard to take this type of game seriously. Especially when you can't even understand what the hell is on the front of the box art.
At first I thought it was a crab, but no, it's a bubble fish named Bubbles. I still think it's a crab. I mean come on, he has a claw and he's apparently collecting Zelda Rupees. WHOA WHOA WHOA. Maybe, this game is actually representing the underwater areas of the original NES Zelda game. It's gotta be. Or maybe it's just another game using the same stock image from Zelda. Ah well....
Honestly, I don't even remember this game from when I was a kid. In fact, I didn't even know it existed until I was going through my list of games that I had to review. I saw the name CLU CLU LAND and thought to myself that it was going to be an absolute mind melt of a game. But you know what? Nintendo is known for creating some classic puzzlers so I had to give this game a chance.
At first glance, the game reminds me a bit of an upgrade Pac Man. You can't really go wrong with that, after all Pac Man is the king of puzzle games. It is a puzzle game right? Well, I guess you can consider it more of a maze game. CLU CLU LAND on the other hand is more of a combination of the two.
I hope you like sea urchin (really, it's quite delicious), because we've got some gold ingots to collect...ahem..Zelda rupees.
The game offers 1 or 2 players, and I have to say I got the chance to play this with a friend, and it is by far a lot more fun to compete against your pal in a co-op version of this puzzle / maze game. It basically ends up being a race to see who can uncover more ingots, but either way the game is a hoot.
When you load up a level, the screen is blank. No gold ingots to be found. Well, that's where the trick of this game lies. You'll need to uncover them. They typically form a shape on the screen, and the only way to reveal them is by causing your fish to turn around these posts scattered all over the maze. In the meantime, you'll also have to avoid obstacles, and evil sea urchins that are trying to kill you.
Come to think of it, this game is really difficult to describe. It's got elements of a lot of things going on from the maze / puzzle combination that I mentioned previously, and even a bit of action elements. Most of the time you're controlling your little fish, you're blowing these air waves at enemies. Great part about is, once you stun 'em, you can just chuck em off the side of the screen to rack in extra points. Take that, urchin scum.
As expected, the farther you progress in the game, the more difficult it gets. More urchins. More obstacles, and the rupees take even more turns to unveil. Oh, and let's not forget the lovely time limit. I LOVE TIME LIMITS. *sighs*
The game is simplistic in design, but effective in execution. In fact, it's probably one of the more enjoyable puzzle / maze games that I've had the luxury of playing. I played through most of it, and I didn't even find myself getting bored. It was really that mixed challenge of puzzle play and avoiding enemies that made it insanely addicting.
For 1985, visually and audibly it's what's expected, but it does feel like you're playing right of an arcade cabinet. Nintendo always seemed to be a pro at doing that. I really shouldn't be surprised either. Most of the black box NES games were absolute classics. It's really making me regret not having any of the black boxes themselves. I mean, I own some of the games, but I don't have the boxes.
They just look so damn sexy. Yes, that's right. Boxes are sexy.
Despite its awkward name, Clu Clu Land is a fantastic puzzle / maze / adventure / action (whatever you want to call it) game, that deserves to be played. More so, it deserves a spot on your shelf, so if you see it, grab it.
Final Score (out of 5) :
Until next time. Keep on gaming!