Home > Chronological Challenge > Chronological Challenge – Kula World

Chronological Challenge – Kula World

January 18, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

The challenge continues to roll on ahead through 1998, and “rolling on” is an apt description for today’s game. It’s a game about rolling. A lot.

Kula World / Roll Away
Publisher: SCE | Developer: Game Design Sweden AB | Year: 1998 (EU release)
Original System: PlayStation
Played on: PS3 (PSN release)

Goal: Attempt to find all the hidden fruit

Actual Outcome: Missed two bonus levels around level 60

Here’s the second weird puzzle game following on from Devil Dice. This is Kula World. It’s about a beach ball that defies gravity. You have to collect keys to advance in MC-Escher-style levels, and eating fruit unlocks bonus challenges. And that’s it. That’s the whole game. Yes.

I can’t remember how I came across this game. I’m sure I played a demo of it back in the day and was intrigued by it, and when I saw it on PSN later on, I picked it up so I could discover more of its weirdness. And here we are, trying to get 100% completion on it. Which requires eating all the fruit and completing the bonus levels, which involve lighting up cubes floating in a void formed from a mixture of a rave and a vomit factory. Look, don’t ask me, okay?

Kula World, or Roll Away if you’re American, is something that’s hard to describe. There are no real comparison points. You are a beach ball, and you roll around environments made out of assortments of cubes. You can stick to any surface, but your ability to get onto different surfaces is governed by specific rules. Your objective is to find keys that unlock an exit and get out without falling off the world, being popped by spikes, boiled by heat, captured by “enemies” that range from bouncing tornados to low-poly tyres, or you simply run out of time. You repeat this process about 150 times with levels presenting tougher time restrictions, more complex block arrangements to navigate or trickier challenges in general.

I can’t confirm this, but the limited presentation of this title makes me suspect that, like Devil Dice, this is a Net Yaroze game that somehow achieved a full commercial release. The fact that everything’s built out of the simplest shapes possible (you are literally a sphere) and each environment is basically a background wrapped around a void suggests an amateur project made on a limited setup, so the Net Yaroze alarm is flashing something fierce.

As a result, the game is…okay. It’s interesting, but sometimes the challenges you face are a little too obtuse, requiring you to bend your mind in ways that a brain simply isn’t designed to do. There’s a lot of weird logic here, and knowing where cubes are your friends or a distraction is important.

Basically, it’s a weird curiosity. It’s an exhibit to the madness that lies tucked away in the dark corners of the old PS1 library. It’s average in every way though, from presentation to level design to even its central concept, so it’s hard to recommend. Unless you REALLY like beach balls.

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