Kickle Cubicle review (NES)

What do earmuffs, plums, evil wizards, and kicking things have in common? The addictive puzzle game Kickle Cubicle, that’s what. Circa 1990, Tetris and Dr. Mario were causing headaches for the gaming public, and it’s unfortunate that Kickle Cubicle remains nearly forgotten. This unique puzzler made you think harder than those two aforementioned games, and you had to have lightning fast reflexes to complete many stages. Additionally, KC had a story, main character, and action. These three elements are missing from both Tetris and Dr. Mario. And I don’t want to hear how Mario is the main character of Dr. Mario. He never moved! He never said anything! The red, yellow, and blue pills were more active. Also, by action I mean you have control of this character and he reacts to your pushing of buttons. Action isn’t falling blocks that you rotate or falling pills that you rotate. It’s walking around and kicking everything in sight.

The story is your basic “we need a hero to save the world from an evil guy.” This is simple but effective because Irem (the makers of R-Type) created a mystical world for you to kick things in. Our protagonist, Kickle, awakens one day to discover that the Wicked Wizard King has transformed his homeland, the Fantasy Kingdom, into ice. It’s up to Kickle with his power to freeze and kick things to combat the evil wizard. The freezing and kicking game play is what makes this such a unique experience. You must freeze your enemies into blocks of ice and then kick them to create bridges. The reason you are creating bridges is to reach red bags. Each level has three red bags you need to grab before you can proceed to the next. The game begins with simple puzzles but gradually becomes challenging. The learning curve is perfectly set. However, there are some puzzles that will leave you scratching your noggin after you have pulled all your hair out. And if you have the patience and skill to complete this game, there are thirty additional puzzles you can try your hand at. I never completed all thirty of these puzzles, but I remember beating many of them. They get ridiculously challenging.

As you progress through the levels you liberate food and toy based people. Plums, carrots, watermelon, popsicles, cake, toy trains, etc. are all freed by your magical boot. When you complete a set of levels you must then do battle with a boss. Each boss has a different pattern and set of attacks but the idea is the same, kick blocks of ice at him. Taking down the Wicked Wizard King can be a hassle, but saving this world of happy edible creatures is both fun and tasty. The only part that isn’t fun is the music. It is beyond repetitive and it’s far too happy. There you have it: Kickle Cubicle, a puzzle game with a twist. I really wish they would remake this for the DS or some handheld (the N-Gage maybe). It would make for a perfect travel game. Pick it up, beat a level or two, and save your game. If you are tired of traditional puzzle games and want to hold a rectangle for a controller, find yourself a copy of Kickle Cubicle for the NES and enjoy.

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