The Legend of Kusakari Review (3DS)

Every once in a while a game comes along that’s just so wacky, weird or unusual that it can only be one of two things. It’s either incredibly fun and you spend far more time on the game than you think or it just falls apart and turns out that the concept just doesn’t work. Legend of Kusakari from Nnooo is just one of those games. Luckily this one happens to fall into the former category rather than the latter, because I had a really good time with the game.

On it’s surface, if you just look at gameplay trailers or screenshots it looks almost like a clone of games like the Legend of Zelda. If you took the game just from those still images alone it doesn’t look like much. However, when you see the game in motion and actually play it you realize it’s something far different.

Kusakari3Rather than playing as the hero of a grand adventure you actually play as the gardener or grounds keeper of the world. It’s your job to keep the world looking nice while the heroes go out and do all of the ‘hard work’. To do that you have to go around, wielding your trusty scythe and chop down all the tall grass you see. Heroes don’t want to be ambushed while they’re on an adventure after all.

You play through the game’s 50 levels chopping down all the grass while avoiding, enemies heroes and NPCs. You have a couple different types of cuts you can do. A standard cut will cut down one or two squares of grass directly in front of you. You also have a spinning cut that will cut down considerably more. I was able to really average about four squares at a time using the spinning cut. You can dash between tall clumps of grass by holding down one of the shoulder buttons. As your progress further on you will start to take damage if you’re not chopping down grass. To replenish your health you have to find the sparkly blue areas and cut them down with wreckless abandon. Other areas like sandy deserts will slow you down making it hard to just move around.

Kusakari2You’re graded based on how quickly and proficiently you do your job. Each level has targets to reach. Just completing the level will allow you to move on to the next level, but your grade won’t be so good if you take too long to do your job. There are also bonus “side quests” inside each level to complete. These can range from chopping down all the grass while taking no damage to making sure that you don’t waste a swing and cut down nothing. Completing these sidequests will unlock a field guide to different flowers telling you a little bit about some of the weird plants in the world.

Once you’re done with the main body of the game you can take to the Endless Mode. This mode will allow you to just keep cutting grass until you can’t any more. There are leaderboards to compare yourself to other players around the world and see who’s the best scythe wielding side hero on the planet.

Kusakari1One thing you’re going to either love or hate about the game is the soundtrack. See, the music isn’t great, but it’s done that way on purpose. At the start and end of each level you’re ‘rewarded’ with the sounds of the worst mariachi style marching band on the planet. Their trumpeter makes 10 year old beginners sound like they’ve been rehearsing for decades. The sound is so off-key that it’s almost painful, but I found myself chuckling at that poor guy every time I heard him. I can just imagine him pouring his heart into the music, giving it everything he’s got. It sort of fits in with the theme of the game as a whole. These people are trying to make the hero’s job of saving the world just a little easier and you have to commend them for it.

The Legend of Kusakari is a simple puzzle game that takes one core concept and executes it very well. It doesn’t take itself very seriously at all, but that’s as much a part of the charm as any off-key trumpeter or gardener is. All you do in the game is cut down the grass, but the level layouts, the different things to avoid and the obstacles in the levels will make the game pretty challenging as you near the end. There are 10 bonus levels in the game as well if you want a really strong challenge. If you’ve ever wondered what a Zelda game about cutting the grass would be like then look no further than The Legend of Kusakari. Even the gardener has a story to tell.

Three Stars

Review copy of the game provided by Nnooo.
Played through all of the main puzzle levels.
Total Play Time: 4-5 hours

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