Kuraburo Kai is an entertaining block breaker game made by the indie developer syuuyuusya, and while it has its share of problems, I still love it.
For as long as I have been a gamer, I’ve been a fan of the Breakout clone, or block-breaker genre. From playing the original port on my dad’s old Atari 2600, to DX Ball, to the bug-riddled version I coded for my computer science project in High School, I have always loved them.
Kuraburo Kai is that kind of game, but one that explores what more can be done within the genre, and, for that, I have to give the developer respect.
You start off by selecting 1 of the 5 characters, and 1 of the beginning stages. You’ll then find yourself in what appears to be a tsubo room with blocks laid out in a basic grid. Your special ability is there to help you in this task, and it will vary based on the character you selected. Early on, you’ll only be able to use it twice. Progression translates into increasingly complex level designs, but destroying block after block will reward you with additional uses of that ability.
And you better learn which character to pick, how to use their ability, and when precisely. Why? So as to maximize block destruction, of course.
Kuraburo Kai puts a fresh spin on the genre by substituting balls with shuriken, and one that can tear through blocks rather than bounce off them. The concept works, at least for the most part: when blocks start exploding into pieces, you’ll feel the chaos, and in video games, chaos is almost always fun.
I spent longer than I care to admit figuring out how to change my weapon’s angles. Accustomed to standards in the genre, where the ball changes angle in any off-centered position when bouncing off paddles.
Not the case in Kuraburo Kai… Killing old habits resulted in me hitting the shuriken over and over again, wondering why the angle never changed. Once I figured out that I had to move while hitting the shuriken, early levels became incredibly easy.
Graphics are simplistic, but that’s in service of the game. You’ll need a clear sight of the blocks, and to easily follow your shuriken across screens. That said, the style adds a lot of charm, and some that could only be found while playing as a Chibi Ninja.
On the downside, there’s no in-game menu. You can’t adjust the audio settings, and the music becomes annoying after a while. You can only change the keyboard controls from the initial launch screen, under the “input” tab.
It’s obvious Kuraburo Kai was designed for a control pad.
In every other block breaker game I’ve played, the position of the bar has been controlled by the mouse. The fact that, here, it’s controlled by the keyboard made it difficult to play, and reinforced the idea that Kuraburo Kai was not designed for PC.
Bug Note! If you watch the counter for time played, 1:40 ticks over to become 1:00, presumably because it is the 100-second mark. A simple bug, but one that should get fixed nonetheless!
Kuraburo Kai is a very fun game, and I appreciate what the game does to a genre that, let’s face it, is in dire need of a makeover. Sadly, the game needs many fixes before it be one I recommend, but its problems set aside, I'll admit it: I loved it.