Review by Ofisil

Reviewed: 03/12/10

A beach ball + unique gameplay = Fun!

Kula World is a Action\Puzzle game developed by Game Design Sweden AB and is currently the only game this team has ever made, however don’t let this discourage you since Kula World, (Kula Quest in Japan, Roll Away in the US), is one of the best if not the best real time puzzle game on the PS.

Gameplay: 7/10
Replay Value: 6/10

In KW you control a ball that you can move around some sort of a 3 dimensional maze in order to find keys that will unlock the exit and collect points on the way there. The controls are very simple and responsive although it is a bit hard for me to explain them on paper since there isn’t any other game like it… so here it goes: You can move the ball only forward, which means that in order to go back, left or right you first have to rotate the ball at a 90 degrees angle and then move forward. Another important factor is gravity. Gravity is where you are… meaning that you can lead your ball to go under a block and you will still not fall, something very useful in the game. Finally the ball can bounce and jump forward, in order not to step on a block.

As I’ve said the objective is to collect keys and find the exit, however that’s not a simple task, but while a very challenging puzzle game I like how it starts very easy and with each level the challenge rises up only a little bit, by introducing some new traps & obstacles and by making the level design a bit more complex. You have to avoid spikes, sliding into your doom by stepping on icy surfaces, get burned if you stay to long on “lava” cracks and many, many, many more. To spice things up a bit you can collect coins and gems that add to your score or fruits that after collecting a certain number you can play a bonus level to get more points and the best thing is that the score isn’t there for no reason, it is actually your life meter! So each time you loose by getting spiked, falling down and many more you just loose some score points.

It is a very good game that will fascinate puzzle fans. There are only 2 downsides though. First of all the 2-player mode is pretty lame. It is supposed to be unique but it ain’t. Player 1 makes two moves then Player makes another two and so on and so on, which while original isn’t fan. Finally the game gets more of a trial & error experience at later levels, first of all because you sometimes can’t see where you must go so you must experiment quite a lot and secondly because there is a timer so it doesn’t let you rest for a second, so most of the time you will loose a couple of times before finding out the solution to completing the level.

Graphics: 8.5/10
Design: 8/10

Usually puzzle games look good due to their simplicity and small need for raw hardware power, but while they look good they aren’t something special. Kula World breaks that rule due to its beautiful graphics. Since everything is very simple, all objects look quite smooth like the bouncing & rolling ball you control, the surfaces that have very good textures like bricks, ice, lava etc, or the various items you collect. What makes the whole thing even better are the backgrounds. The levels are actually 3D “mazes” floating in the air so the backgrounds are full 360 angled panoramas that create a wonderful feeling of depth and distance making you feel that you are veeery high and besides that they come in many versions like Egyptian deserts, Aztec valleys, artic mountains and many more.

Sound: 8/10
Music: 6/10

The sound effects are of very good quality, very realistic and distinctive, like the bouncing ball sound that will almost make you think that you hold it in your hands. Now the music isn’t something special, in fact it is barely heard at all, just some soothing ambient tunes, but that isn’t something bad since in a game like this you don’t really need music

[+]:
-A great original concept for a real time puzzle game
-Starts easy and gets more and more challenging
-Great graphics that give a nice feeling of depth and distance

[-]:
-A bit of a trial & error experience in later levels
-Bad 2-player mode

Also Play:
3D Lemmings (PC, Playstation, Saturn)

Overall: 7.2/10

Kula World isn’t the best puzzle game there is out there, but it is amongst the best when it comes to Playstation Puzzle games. It is quite unique, with a challenge level that will satisfy both beginners and hard-core puzzle fans and with a nice variety in levels. Certainly not good for a rent, so I advise you to save some money and buy it instead.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

Product Release: Kula World (EU, 07/31/98)

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