I’ve been reviewing some pretty mainstream video games lately, haven’t I? … Here’s a game called Kiwi Kraze for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Kiwi Kraze is one of those interesting to talk about games to me because not many people ever bring it up. However, that might to do with the name change. See, Kiwi Kraze was first developed and published by Taito in 1988 and released out into arcades. However, that original name was “The NewZealand Story” (which ScrewAttack did a good job at pointing out why that name is comical). When it was ported onto home consoles, it was STILL called The NewZealand Story on every system except for the North American NES version. I tried to find the reason for this, but I can’t even find any leads or theories about it. The only difference I see is that while the other ported versions were published by another company called Ocean, the North American NES version was published by Taito themselves (which makes even less sense to me: why would the original company change the name, while a different company keep it the same?). This is just one of those little video game mysteries that I find pretty interesting (like how Bluto is called Brutus in Popeye). Still, you don’t hear much about The NewZealand Story either, but I just wanted to eliminate some of the possible confusion out there.
The game play of Kiwi Kraze actually has an interesting mix of skills into it. You have the usual jump and shoot to start, nothing too unusual. Next, you also have the ability to slow any decent by repeatedly pressing the jump button to flap your wings. You can also fly in this game, buy you don’t use your wings. Some enemies float on… devices (I can’t tell what they’re supposed to be...) that you can shoot from under them to make them fall to their death, jump on it and knock them off (though this has a high risk of getting hit) or shoot them and then get on the… thing. Once you’re on, you can float around. This doesn’t just help your mobility, it eventually becomes necessary. And of course, to finish the movement trio, you can walk, fly AND swim in this game. Swimming is my least favorite method of travel: not only do you move SO SLOWLY under water, but you also have an oxygen meter that takes as much time to fill up as it takes to empty. When you need to stop for air, it feels like it takes way too long.
I wouldn’t have a problem with it taking long, if this game didn’t have a time limit. If you take too long, a flying demon will come out of nowhere and chase you, and the time limit is never shown. In longer levels with water, you’ll be worried the devil might come because you took too long to refill your lungs. The demon is a necessary evil however (mind the pun). Most of the levels are very maze like, with multiple paths you can take to get to the end. You have a map on the pause menu, but it only shows your relation to the exit. It’s rare that it ever happens, but it’s possible to be so cold off the track that I understand why the game makers felt the need to just stop players at a certain point.
However, until now I’ve been dancing around the big aspect that really makes this game noteworthy: your kiwi can only take one hit. This changes the game from what would be a cute stroll into a deceivingly difficult task where you’re constantly afraid that something might spawn in front of you. You’re also not given unlimited continues, so it’s hard to practice the later stages. You really don’t see it coming how hard this game can really and it takes you off guard by its challenge.
Kiwi Kraze is a cute little fun adventure game… that is also quite hard. Its graphics and music are all super cute, which leads me to state the same thing as I did in my It’s Mr. Pants review: I assume the target audience for this game would be younger kids and this game will probably only frustrate them. I’m not saying kids games have to be easy, but there needs to be a limit, and when adults are frustrated by parts of it, it’s clear that limit has been passed. But other than being difficult, is there anything really “wrong” with it? Well, it also feels rather bare: nothing is really memorable or outstanding about this game (which might be the real reason why it’s never brought up). But there was a DS game that came out in 2007 called New Zealand Story Revolution, so some people remember it. Kiwi Kraze does have a charm to it, so if you’re into underrated platform adventure stuff like this and see it cheap enough, I suggest you go for it. I give Kiwi Kraze for the NES 7 levels out of 10.