By: Matthew Striplen
Did you ever play a Legend of Zelda game and think, “Wow, this is fun, but I wish there wasn’t any questing, and I only had to cut grass”? If you’re that person, The Legend of Kusakari is your game.
In this quirky title, players take control of Kusa Kari, a fearless gardener. He’s not the main hero, but he is invaluable to those trying to take down the villain. As a gardener, you must cut all the grass in a given area while trying to avoid the roving enemies and the heroes locked in battle with them. Armed with little more than your trusty scythe and fierce determination, it’s up to you to keep the lawn short in order to give our heroes a leg up against the forces of evil.
Each level presents Kusa Kari with unique terrain and arrangements of grass to mow. As you cut more and more grass, your scythe gains levels that increases the range of your strikes. In fact, there are two ways to cut the grass: normal strikes and spin cuts, which pay more homage to The Legend of Zelda.
However, each spin cut lowers your scythe’s level, so make sure to carefully pick when to use your special move. Plus, treacherous terrain poses all sorts of problems. Swamps slow your movements to a crawl, even when dashing, and sandy areas drain your health at an alarming rate.
Speaking of health, Kusa Kari steadily loses health as the level progresses, regardless of his actions. The rate is pretty quick, half a heart every few seconds, so be on the lookout for health-restoring grasses. These blue-hued plants restore a single heart, while shimmering blue ones completely replenish your heart containers. Much of the gameplay is centered on managing your health and herbs, so make sure you cut your grass efficiently and in the most beneficial order possible.
Over the course of Kusakari’s 50 levels, things get pretty tough. Although the game has a good difficulty curve, the final few levels are seriously hard. That being said, this game could’ve given the player much more with which to work. Although trophies are awarded for fulfilling certain conditions, there’s nothing you can do with the trophies once you receive them.
There’s also a rating system based on your completion time, but again, receiving a higher rank does nothing but give the player bragging rights. Plus, there are no power-ups. Other than the difficulty, gameplay doesn’t really change much from start to finish.
If you’re tired of the main game, you can always try your hand at the endless mode. This challenges players to cut as much grass as possible before your health drains away. There’s not a whole lot of replay value, as there are no enemies or terrain to navigate, though you can upload your score to compare it with others.
Control wise, Kusakari handles decently well. However, sometimes the controls feel a little heavy or stiff. Most notably, Kusa Kari has a tendency to get stuck on walls, which can lead to a tremendous loss of health.
From a visual standpoint, Kusakari doesn’t fare too well. The graphics lack detail and an engaging color scheme. Although this doesn’t hurt the actual gameplay, a greater aesthetic appeal would be nice. The sound faces a similar, or possibly worse, fate.
The main theme shouldn’t be taken too seriously, as the lighthearted march is constantly interrupted by a hideously out of tune trumpet. The band can be seen at the bottom of the title screen, and every time the trumpet player makes a mistake, he floats up in the air. Although this cute touch is funny at first, it doesn’t change the fact that the music is flat out ugly.
The Legend of Kusakari is a quirky game. It purposefully avoids the epic scope to which many games aspire but ends up falling a little flat. The game’s humor gets stale, as does the gameplay, despite the impressive difficulty by the end. If you want a short and fast time-waster, The Legend of Kusakari will help you eat a few minutes.