Clu Clu Land Review
Posted by Marcel van Duyn
Clu Clu Bland
Back in the NES days, Nintendo had a lot of experimental, arcade-like games, many of which never quite made it into the big leagues in order to get sequels and the like. Perhaps one of the most often forgotten of these games is Clu Clu Land.
Similarly to Kuru Kuru Kururin, you need to know a bit of Japanese in order to understand the game's title. "Kuru kuru" is an onomatopoeia for the sound of something spinning, and, rest assured, that's something you'll be doing a lot of in this game.
You take control of Bubbles - a strange fish creature with arms - and move around a large maze dotted with pegs. The goal is to navigate the whole level, trying to uncover all the hidden gold bars which a bunch of evil sea urchins called the Unira have stolen. There is no indication as to where the blighters are, so you'll either have to search the entire level, or do some guesswork. Also dotted around the levels are some nasty black holes which will instantly kill you if you fly into them. Steer clear!
Bubbles' special technique is to, erm, well, stick her hand out, allowing her to grab onto one of the many pegs and spin around it in order to change direction. There is no other way to do this, except by slamming into a wall which simply makes you turn around. It's also possible for Bubbles to shoot sound waves which can stun the Unira, allowing you to then push them into a wall to defeat them. Quite handy, if the buggers can stay straight ahead of you for long enough!
The game sounds simple enough, but don't be fooled; Bubbles moves quite fast, and with the Unira roaming around erratically, it can often be quite hard to dodge them due to all the different things you need to pay attention to. It becomes even more difficult in later stages, where finding gold becomes much more challenging; not only will you have to pass through a gold location twice for it to be uncovered, but you must also avoid going back over it afterwards, as doing so will rebury it!
In terms of presentation, the game is similar to many other titles of its time, with simple graphics and a single piece of music that loops during every stage. In this case, the simplistic graphics are a bit of a blessing, as it means the screen isn't all cluttered up - it's hard enough to keep track of things as it is!
As one of Nintendo's earliest NES games, there's still a decent amount of fun to be had out of Clu Clu Land, but, unfortunately, the finicky controls and steep difficulty curve result in a game that can only be recommended to the most skilled of retro gamers.