Of all the genres that exists for gaming, action puzzle games probably belong among the more bizarre. But hey, they exist and in the case of Kickle Cubicle, did fairly well on the market. Heck, it made our top 100 list. Though to be fair there are other puzzle games higher on the list, deservedly so.
You play a little round-headed guy named Kickle. You live in the generically named Fantasy Kingdom where you wake up one day to find everything has been turned to ice by the Wicked Wizard King. Why those people are allowed to hold a throne is beyond me. If someone is called the Wicked Wizard King, wouldn’t you do something about it before he showed up and caused havoc upon your nation? Well, Kickle and company didn’t do squat so the Wicked Wizard King traps everyone in Dream Bags because killing them outright would be to simple I guess.
So Kickle, who happens to have freeze breath and somehow escapes the Wicked Wizard King’s Dream Bag (never thought I’d type that), sets out on a mission to return Fantasy Kingdom to normal… through the power of his freeze breath.
The game plays as a series of puzzle boards where Kickle can use his breath to turn enemies into blocks which can then be used to make new platforms. He is trying to collect the red Dream Bags on every stage which allows him to move on to the next stage. There are four different “lands” and at the end of each land he will face off against a boss. In the Famicom version, the player could choose any of the four lands. In the American release it was a set order. After completing all four lands and defeating each boss you unlock the “special game” that gives you 30 more levels of increased difficulty.
Its an interesting concept and one that plays well both here and in other games like Solomon’s Key and the Lolo series. While there are some action aspects to the game, with timing your shots and avoiding enemies, the game really comes down to figuring out how to complete each stage. With bright colors and a cute protagonist its a game that was going to do well from its release.
That brings me to my final point. What’s up with the name? I understand Kickle as that’s the main character’s name. But Cubicle? Where did that come from? The original Japanese name was Meikyu Jima which translates to either Labyrinth Island or Maze Island depending on translation. Well that doesn’t clear anything up. My only guess would be the cubes that Kickle forms when he blasts an enemy with his breath. Rhyming Cube with Kickle would give us Cubicle, I suppose. Kind of an odd name but an overall solid puzzle title for the NES.
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