PlayStation Retro Recap

Retro Recap: Kula World

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An old school puzzle game that’s not Tetris? Crazy stuff! Even more crazy that this is completed via a beach ball! This week’s Retro Recap is none other than Kula World.
For those of you blissfully unaware, Kula World wasn’t the only name this vintage title went by. Those of you who had the fortune of living inside North America (swift backhand) would have known this title as Kula World. Those of Japanese descent would be more privy to the name Kula World, however, the game remained the same. A 3D puzzler centred on collecting the key and reaching the end zone, Kula World seems like a simple game at first, but once you get into the nitty-gritty of the game, the levels get more and more tricky. With its unique physics mechanics, a shift in gravity is enough to give anyone a headache and with this being a core part of Kula World, the challenge becomes more and more real.

My first experience playing this game happened to come from a PlayStation demo and being in my youthful and whimsical state, never really appreciated this title. Only until it got a full rerelease on the PlayStation store that I made the executive decision to download and get back in the game. As with any puzzler, Kula World maintains the annoying quality of annoying over the simplest thing. Even from an early standpoint, the alternative gravity situation is enough to boggle anyone’s mind. Even something as simple as jumping from one platform to another proved quite the challenge, especially with the unhelpful static camera angle.
Are they any fun facts about a beach ball? Of course there is:

  • Kula World was one of the first games to utilise the dualshock functionality (not that it really needed it, but it was a nice touch)
  • There are actually more than 150 levels! (Including bonus and secret stages)
  • Kula (the actual name of the ball) changes design depending on the style of level you are on
  • There are an extra 20 levels after the initial 150, which are much more difficult and only allows you to save after every 10 levels (as opposed to every 5 in the main arcade mode)

With the simple objective of collecting keys and reaching the end goal, there were a number of obstacles and even enemies that our trusty beach ball had to endure. There wasn’t an unlimited amount of time to complete each puzzle and some levels had an impassable item of an hourglass. The hourglass flips your time on its head and instead of you having 1 minute 50 left of your 2 minutes, gave you only 10 seconds, something which became increasingly annoying. At times, levels had to be repeated in order to learn the path you need to take to complete a level in the allotted time. Not to take away from the overall game, but something that always stuck in my mind and a poor choice of gameplay, even to a game a simple as this.

On the bright side, however, Kula World gave us a primitive multiplayer scenario. With 2 games mode, one being the classic time trial dual between you and your friend and the other, a game mode called Copycat. As it would suggest, the idea is that one player takes 2 moves on a level, then the 2nd player had to copy them exactly, then providing a further 2 moves of their own. Whilst basic, in its Simple Simon sort of behaviour, this plain touch to otherwise linear puzzler allows an extra level of replayability on its part. Kula World is game that I would recommend playing if you’re feeling rather nostalgic, yet aren’t in the mood for long haul games like Crash Bandicoot or the Final Fantasy series.
Did you play Kula World in your youthful days? Have you picked it up on the PS Store since its rerelease? Let us know what you think of the game in the comments section below!

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