Friday, July 3, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! Klustar

Klustar was a title released for the Gameboy Color (that's the 8-Bitter) by Infogrames, developed by the fine folks at Rebellion. Another Tetris knockoff, as was big back in the day..
Largely forgotten, or more appropriately outright ignored, Klustar was a funky little game, one of those which sort of released in the mix of tons of other games, and unsupported by any really noticeable marketing, it came and went without much fuss. This is a shame - although nothing revolutionary, it's a cool little game, one of those which you can turn on and kind of zone out to for long amounts of time. It's a fun little game!

It's pretty simple really - there's variable startup options, but the basic settings will have you controlling a single block centrally located in the playfield. Tetris-looking pieces will come at you one-by-one, from any of the four directions offscreen - they will pass from one end to the other, you must "catch" them with your block or else they will start to pile up when they hit the other end of the screen (and they are not clearable after they "land" in this way).

As you "catch"the pieces, they attach to your floating block and now you control this larger conglomeration of things you have caught. You can move the whole thing up/down/left/right anywhere in the playfield, and rotate in 90 degree increments - blocked only by the approaching pieces, or the already-landed garbage.

Catch the pieces in such a way that they fit together, that is, fill in their holes "Tetris-style" and when you form a solid cube of 3x3 or more, that will collapse and give you more room to work with (and score points!). This may all sound bit confusing as I type it out - it's one of those things that makes instant sense when you watch it happen, it is very simple.

The game is quite simple in execution, looks and audio as well - no frills here, and simple little ditties like "home on the range" play in the background to help make you nuts as you sweat. But that's all fine, the real star here is the purity of the gameplay. This is one of those titles which early on you feel hopeless and doomed "oh this game is too hard!" and then very quickly you can snap into it's groove and see why it is fun. It's a little strange - we don't see too many puzzle games of this particular variety, actually - so it is quite refreshing in that, as it does stand out with it's very different mechanic.

Unfortunately for the makers of Klustar, the game released at a strange time and no one thought to give it a chance, and to be honest I have no idea how I stumbled on it at all. But it's definitely a cool little puzzle game, oft-overlooked but something I can enjoy when I want a charge out of something different. See if it can do the same for you.

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