Kula World is a puzzle game that was originally released on July 10th 1998 in Europe and later making it to North America on November 30th 1998 under the new title of Roll Away and Japan on May 27th 1999 under the new title of Kula Quest. Upon its release, Kula World was certainly my favourite puzzle game on the PS1 and I spent many hours playing the game. My previous experience of the game meant that I was very happy to see it released as part of the PS One Classics range available across the PS3, PSP and now the PS Vita. The game sees you control a beach ball as you attempt to navigate through various levels that are rather similar to a series of mazes.
The graphics have held up rather well as they have not aged that much if at all, which is most likely because everything is bright and colourful. Every level has a detailed maze design such as Egyptian inscriptions or wooden patterns with colourful backdrops such as a bright blue and sunny sky with sand and pyramids in the earlier levels with a variety of maze designs and backdrops as you progress through the game. All of the collectables in each of the levels look great too such as keys, fruits, coins, gems, sand timers, pills and more as do the hazards such as spikes.
The game provides you with an amazing total of 170 levels across two game modes including: arcade and time trial. A unique dynamic of the game presents you with the opportunity to switch the direction that you are headed in on the final square of each maze, which really adds to the puzzle element of the game; making it rather confusing on some of the larger levels as it offers you a further three routes beyond the route that you have just taken and increases the number of routes available even further when there are multiple areas to each maze. This can make finding the collectables to increase your score and the multiple keys to open the exit of each level quite difficult at times.
The arcade mode challenges you to improve upon your highest score, so you can post it on the local high score leaderboards saved on your Vita. For every time you fall off the maze, you will receive a reduction of a certain number of points from 250 upwards depending upon how many levels you are into the arcade mode. There are various collectables such as fruits, coins, gems and more to collect that are scattered throughout the levels that will increase your score, although there are collectables that you are best avoiding and others that you are sometimes best off collecting and leaving on other occasions, such as the sand timer and pills. Collecting the sand timer will flip your sand timer, which on occasion will give you more time, such as when you only have a few seconds left, but when you have a lot of time left is exactly the point that you will not want to collect the sand timer as it will give you significantly less time, although if collected in error you can prevent the sand timer from forcing you to restart the level by collecting another sand timer, which would reverse it again and give you your previous amount of time back. If you collect any of the pills it will turn everything slow and psychedelic and there are various other collectables that are introduced throughout the game as the further you progress that are best left untouched, so be careful before thinking a collectable is always helpful to your score or remaining time limit as that is not necessarily always the case.
There are hazards such as spikes that you need to be wary of as they will end the level immediately and make you restart the level from the beginning if you make the slightest contact with them. Collecting all of the fruits that a particular level has to offer will result in a bonus level. The bonus levels play out like a disco with each of the platforms in a particular colour such as purple that need to be changed to a brighter colour by bouncing or rolling the beach ball on each of the platforms and collecting the gems and coins in order to complete the bonus level. The time trial mode presents you with a timer in which you have to complete the level before the timer counts down to zero. Upon the completion of each level; the time remaining from this level is added to the time remaining from the previously completed levels meaning that you have more time to complete levels based upon how quickly you have completed previous levels. If you do go beyond the time limit you will still progress to the next level, but you will have less time to complete it, although if the sand timer runs out or you fall off the maze, you will have to restart the current level. The time trial mode also offers three difficulty levels including: easy, medium and hard.
The controls are simplistic with the left and right buttons on the directional pad used to change the direction the direction the beach ball is facing and the up button on the directional pad used to move forward, while X is used to jump.
The audio consists of a mixture of peaceful music and tribal music with various sound effects throughout the game, such as the bouncing of the beach ball, the loss of air from the beach ball as it is spiked by the hazardous spike, the munching of fruit, the jingling of coins and the rattling of keys whenever they are collected.
The replayability is undeniable with an amazing amount of content including 170 levels, arcade and time trial game modes, copy cat and time trial multiplayer modes and local leaderboards that provide such a sense of pick up and play and value to the game that you could only possibly be forgiven for not purchasing Kula World if you didn’t like puzzle games.
Kula World also contains two multiplayer modes including: copy cat and time trial. The copy cat mode allows player one to make two moves, while player two has to repeat those two moves and add an additional two moves, then player one has to repeat those four moves and add another two moves and so on until both players have worked as a team to complete the level. If either player fails in their attempt to copy the moves carried out by the other player, then you will fail and have to restart the level. The time trial mode allows player one to complete a level as fast as they can and for player two to attempt to beat that time. The multiplayer mode works well on the Vita as it is essentially pass the Vita multiplayer, which means player one has their turn, then hands the Vita over to player two who holds one of their fingers over the Vita’s touch screen, enters the controller settings menu and changes from controller one to controller two on the assign controllers menu, then takes their turn and hands the Vita back to player one and so on. Of course the PS3 version of Kula World is more conventional in regards to the multiplayer modes; as both players already have their controllers and is therefore easier to play, but it is good to see a local multiplayer game work so well from the PS One Classics range on the Vita.
Overall, Kula World is in my opinion the best puzzle game not just available for the PS One Classics range, but from the PS1’s entire back catalogue. 170 levels of varying difficulty, arcade and time trial game modes, copy cat and time trial multiplayer modes and local leaderboards all add to an amazing overall package that will keep you coming back for more and at just £3.99 from the PlayStation Store, this comes highly recommended as one of the standout titles from the PS One Classics range. You could only possibly be forgiven for not purchasing Kula World if you didn’t like puzzle games.
At A Glance
- Title: Kula World
- Publisher: Game Design Sweden AB
- System: PS One Classics
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Cross Play: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 138Mb