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Matters of Import: Dessert-Based Adventures With Kaeru No Tame Ni Kane Wa Naru

Posted by Kerry Brunskill

That Zelda-ish game with the frog guy

Twenty one years ago, Game Boy fans were graced with the wonderful Link’s Awakening, an action-adventure classic that has quite rightfully taken its place in gaming history as one of the greatest games in both the Game Boy’s library and The Legend of Zelda series. But a year before that, Japanese gamers had already played something in the same vein and arguably just as good.

Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru, or "For the Frog the Bell Tolls” is another Nintendo developed action-adventure game for the good old “brick” Game Boy, starring the Prince of the Sable kingdom and his eternal rival Prince Richard of the Custard kingdom (the same one that pops up in Link’s Awakening), both of which are trying to get one over on each other by rescuing the recently-kidnapped Princess Tiramisu. As you can probably tell from the names, this is meant to be a light-hearted “feel good” adventure rather than an epic tale of woe and despair. (If you’re wondering why “Sable” doesn't fit in with the other dessert-themed names, it’s because it’s from the French “sablé”, and means “shortbread” in Japanese – the more you know!)

At a glance the overhead town and field maps will call to mind memories of Zelda, but the game soon makes its own mark with its unique take on battles and dungeons. All fights, apart from one part of the very last boss, are automatic and their outcome is determined entirely on how Prince Sable’s stats and equipment compare to whoever he’s trying to beat up. The comedy dust clouds these tussles kick up could be in danger of outstaying their welcome but thankfully if the Prince totally outranks his opponent instead of getting into a fight they blown right off the screen as soon as he touches them. As the game relies on item pick-ups hiding in treasure chests to boost the Prince’s health and stats, it’s often a good idea to avoid enemies entirely unless you need to grind for money.

The dungeons, caves, and castles of the Mille-Feuille kingdom are all presented from a side-on point of view, with their difficulty coming more from platforming and environmental puzzles than lock-and-key style puzzling. These areas also put Prince Sable’s frog/snake transformations into good use; when in frog form he can jump much higher than normal and safely walk through water-filled areas, while as a snake he can squeeze into small passages and turn certain enemies into handy blocks. When he’s in an animal form he can’t be understood by humans, but luckily that also means that the guards and soldiers roaming around won’t pay him much attention either and he can pass by unnoticed as a frog into places that he wouldn't be allowed into as a human.

These unique quirks coupled with Zelda-like overworld exploration comes together beautifully to create a game that feels both familiar and fresh all at the same time, even when playing it over two decades after its release. Even though the game is a one-off, it still manages to fill its world with memorable moments and places, and the puzzle-platforming is satisfying without ever becoming frustrating. Straightforward gamers will find an expertly-crafted adventure here, and those that like to explore every nook and cranny aren't forgotten either – finding plenty of helpful items lurking underground and at the end of tricky leaps.

At one point there was a "DX" version planned for the Game Boy Color, much like the fantastic touch-up Link’s Awakening got. Sadly that didn't come through and the game was eventually forgotten, until Nintendo released it on the (Japanese) 3DS eShop in 2012. An English fan translation is also lurking about the internet too, so even though this excellent game hasn't yet had the true remake it deserves, it’s more accessible now than it’s ever been, and well worth a look.

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User Comments (40)

Reynoldszahl

#2

Reynoldszahl said:

I guess there is no hate involved it is just plain illegal if you don't own a copy of the game.

Fazermint

#3

Fazermint said:

I understand that. I keep my emulation talk to a minimum here. Since the fan translation was mentioned in the article itself, I figured it'd be ok.

BlatantlyHeroic

#5

BlatantlyHeroic said:

It's not illegal if the game is no longer being sold. Here's a piece of wisdom: an honorable man only follows laws that forbid the mistreatment of human beings, other laws can take a hike.

DestinyMan

#6

DestinyMan said:

I think I remember seeing Prince Sable on a sticker in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, oddly enough. That's why I recognized the boy in the boxart.

The game sounds pretty cool, though I wouldn't go to great lengths to get to play it.

edhe

#7

edhe said:

I found out about this game through its connection to the GB Zelda game and Freshly Picked Tingle - Rosey Rupeeland. Zelda shares the same composer, and a character in Richard. In Zelda (he lives in the villa with some frogs), while Freshly Picked Tingle is said to have a similar (but not identical) battle system.

I looked up some Youtube videos, and it's completely inaccessable though. But it's got nice music.

Mk_II

#8

Mk_II said:

@BlatantlyHeroic you are 100% wrong. it doesn't matter if a game (or a book or a CD) is still being sold, the copyright remains firmly in place.

EarthboundBenjy

#9

EarthboundBenjy said:

I own this game, but I tried it when my Japanese was very poor. A few years later, maybe I'll understand more now, hmm.
Too many Japanese games to play!

Windy

#10

Windy said:

The game looks neat. if it ever got a translation I would buy my first gameboy game for my 3DS VC.

hamsterfactor

#11

hamsterfactor said:

This game looks pretty neat, but I don't know if my level of Japanese would be up to it (although it looks like the whole thing is in hiragana, so maybe). Either way, would be great to see it translated in the 3DS VC.

Cloud-San-VII

#12

Cloud-San-VII said:

I actually have this and a few other obscure rarities on my Japanese 3DS's wishlist.... I just need to save up some money so I can purchase them...

Cloud-San-VII

#14

Cloud-San-VII said:

Also, while we're talking about games that never made it, some games may actually make it to the West.

NOTE THAT ALL OF THE LISTED HERE ARE TALKING ABOUT THE eShop, AS THEY ARE ALL ON THE JAPANESE eShop
I mean, Takamaru got his own game in Nintendo Land, so maybe Nazo no Murasame-jo can come over.
Fire Emblem (original) should definitely come over, as Fire Emblem is selling like hotcakes.
Lastly, Shin Onigashima...... yeah... I don't have much hope for, but, they had a trophy in Melee.... and if Nazo no Murasame-jo is released as sells enough.... it MAY HAVE A CHANCE OF COMING.

And I want to make a quick mention of this, for those of you who want Project Mirai released in the West.... if you look at the community, isn't it a bit weird that the title of the community is listed in English for English readers?
We can only hope that that means a release in the West....

(sorry for the off-topic post.... I just thought I'd make a point)

True_Hero

#16

True_Hero said:

That spiral-eyed professor with the oddly shaped head also appeared in Wario Land 4 as something for Wario to chuck around. Not as glamorous a homage as the one in Link's Awakening perhaps, but still quite entertaining.

BlatantlyHeroic

#17

BlatantlyHeroic said:

@Mk_II Rules exist for those who are blind. They are ideas, not physical boundaries. Once a person realizes this, "right" and "wrong" fade out of existence.

Usagi-san

#19

Usagi-san said:

@BlatantlyHeroic: "Rules exist for those who are blind. They are ideas, not physical boundaries. Once a person realizes this, "right" and "wrong" fade out of existence"

Ridiculous.

Stuffgamer1

#24

Stuffgamer1 said:

@Mk_II: True, the copyright is in place...but a company can't PROSECUTE without showing damages, and if they aren't selling you the product, there are no damages to be shown. It's a weird legal loophole, but very useful for retro fans who don't want to see obscure games fade for no good reason.

I have played the fan translation of this game...of course, there's only one way to do that, and I'm sorry if it offends some of you for some bizarre reason. Let it be known that I would gladly pay for the game if it WAS released in English...for whatever that's worth.

ecco6t9

#25

ecco6t9 said:

It is something that Nintendo of America should translate and release exclusively for Club Nintendo members.

Stuffgamer1

#26

Stuffgamer1 said:

@ecco6t9: That makes no sense. Translations like that cost money, and they already don't do it because they don't think they can turn a profit on a cheap VC game. How is releasing it for Club Nintendo going to help matters?

Henmii

#27

Henmii said:

The automatic battles don't sound very exciting, but I still would want to play the game! Bring it to Europe and America, Nintendo!

RedFireTiger

#28

RedFireTiger said:

Wish i could have experienced this game. Wow... this sorta makes me sad.. as if it reminds me that now'a'days dev's aren't as risk taking as they once were. I hope i'm wrong by saying that.

TheLilK98

#30

TheLilK98 said:

Again, you can't exactly have damages if you've never sold it to a particular market, now can you?

How about we not discuss the amount of pain each other's posteriors are feeling -Lz

Unca_LzStaff

#31

Unca_Lz said:

Let's discuss about this game rather than the legality of its existence.

gurtifus

#34

gurtifus said:

Just tried it after reading that !
The english translation is well made and this game is perfect for me.
Thanks to Nintendolife I can play something (and in english) that I never wouldn't have found out otherwise !
I it came out on the 3DS VC, I'd buy it to be forgiven for my sin.

Tsuchinoko

#36

Tsuchinoko said:

I got this on the 3DS VC a while back. It has some of the best dialogue ever in a Game Boy game. It is VERY Japanese though, I'm not sure how it would translate.

Stuffgamer1

#37

Stuffgamer1 said:

@Tsuchinoko: The fan translation was pretty well done...not sure how it would resonate with the general audience, but it's good for the Japanese-culture crowd at the very least. Not that I claim to be the most knowledgeable either...it just worked for me, anyway.

JaxonH

#38

JaxonH said:

@Mk_II
Even if that's so, what REAL harm is it doing to anyone or anything, if the game is no longer sold? How does it negatively impact anyone? And if it doesn't negatively impact person, place or thing in any way, then what's the point? There is something called the "letter of the law" and there's something called the "spirit of the law". The letter of the law is meant to reflect the spirit of the law, but sometimes the system breaks down. Sometimes the letter of the law makes no sense.

In this case, the letter of the law was designed to protect the spirit of the law, and the spirit of the law is to prevent people from freely obtaining a copy of a game that's being sold. If the game is no longer being sold, and there's no other way to obtain it, then the letter of the law is no longer needed. It becomes prohibitive instead of protective. That is why many people look at what the spirit of the law was trying to accomplish when judging matters such as these. Judge matters by the spirit of the law, not by the letter.

Einherjar

#39

Einherjar said:

@BlatantlyHeroic These "rules" are just moral bounderies ;) To be honest, these rules grey out for me as soon as i find a way to play games that are "non commercial" anymore on consoles that are "non commercial" anymore. Its simple as that.
I respect copyright laws in any way and form, but when noone is seeing money for said games and systems anymore, why should that stop me from enjoying someones hard work from the past that is ineccesable to me otherwise ?
If i could support the original author, i would be the first to do so.
Example: If a game shows up on the eShop, said game vanishes from any device i own where its not supposed to be on and gets downloaded from the eShop.

CureDolly

#40

CureDolly said:

I have been playing this game (legally - I bought it on the Japanese eShop - I didn't even know there was an English translation) and I really love it. Link's awakening was actually the first Nintendo game I played so it adds an extra fascination. It is a shame this franchise was forgotten - it is really very good.

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