Kururin Squash! is the sequel to the 2 incredibly fun GameBoy Advance games Kurukuru Kururin and Kururin Paradise.
Of which the first one was released in Japan and Europe, but the second one only saw a Japanese release.
Sadly it seems to be the case that Kururin Squash! will stay exclusive to Japan also.
Let me first point out that the game works with the freeloader and that it does save to the memory card, so you don't lose all of your hard work and records every time you turn the system off.
The only thing I've noticed using the freeloader on a European GameCube is that some of the Japanese text is a bit garbled up. Although the menus are unaffected by this.
My guess is that it's simply a problem of the Pal systems not being able to handle the Japanese font.
The object of the game is still to get to the end of each course as quickly as possible without accidentally bumping into walls, enemies or obstacles.
It's a very simple concept, and that's why it works so extremely well.
You use the analog control to move your Helirin, which gives you just a bit more precise control over your Helirin then the GBA games did. Pressing the R button makes your Helirin spin faster while pressing B allows you to move your Helirin at a faster pace.
So far so good. But there are certain additions to Squash!.
Some levels let you take control over other kind of Helirin's.
The first one is equipped with boxing gloves, which can be used to punch out enemies and break certain obstacles. (A bit reminiscent of Monkey Fight :D )
The second one is for water based levels, and lets you dive under water for a limited time. Thus letting you dive under obstacles while avoiding other dangers under water and keeping an eye out for your air gauge.
The third one lets you use your Helirin as a double ended flamethrower. Very useful in Ice levels as well as in multiplayer. ;)
And the final on lets you create tornados and send them off in any direction you'd like.
Now let's go into a bit more details about the game modes. For starters you have a single and multiplayer mode.
When selecting the Single Player mode you have the usual choice between Story Mode and Time Attack with lots and lots of levels between them.
For getting perfect marks on the levels in the Story Mode it is no longer enough to get to the end of the course without smashing into stuff, you also have to collect all the coins this time around.
Besides helping you get perfect trips on a level (thereby making advanced play a bit more challenging), the coins are also used to buy items in the shop.
Some of the items for sale are different styled Helirin's, various interface styles, tutorial movies, a GBA connection multiplayer game, etc.
The GBA connection game isn't anything special though. It's simply a match & win game.
They show a picture of a Helirin on the GBA and you have to choose which of 3 Helirin's shown on the TV is the matching one.
The normal multiplayer mode on the other hand is lots and lots of fun. Up to 4 people can play either Race or Battle Mode.
The race basically explains itself. Get to the finish before the other players do, while trying to avoid collisions or while trying to nudge your competitors into the wall. :p
In battle mode you get to choose out of 10 different arena's.
Every player starts with 1000 coins and the one who has the most coins when the time limit runs out is the winner.
Crystals are scattered around the arena and picking one up means collecting one out of the 4 weapons mentioned above. Only one little difference here, the rowing Helirin is replaced with a double vulcan shooter. :)
When you get hit by enemy fire or bump into an object coins come flying out of you like you were a pinata. Once your health bar reaches zero, you lose half of your coins and are transported to another place in the arena while the other players can fight it out for your lost coins.
The graphic design is kept simple but very colorful and pretty. Think PenPen but even cuter. ;)
While the menus and interface are brought to life using 2D stick figures of the Kururin cast.
A bit hard to describe, perhaps a bit like Paper Mario, but not quite.
For the people who think they have seen everything with the GBA games, there are plenty of surprises in here, ranging from rapids which change the way you have to think about controlling your Helirin to the roller coaster rides you take while burning enemies to a crisp.
On top of those there are plenty more traditional routes which rely on your classic Kururin skills.
Between this and the Time Trial and multiplayer mode there is more than enough to keep you occupied for weeks if not months.
In the end this game is a classical case of a game that should have been released around the world, but for some reason has been restricted to Japanese gamer's and importers.
It's a real shame, because we certainly could use more original games like this.
Andy De Wilde