Monday, June 21, 2010

Retro Monday - Clu Clu Land

The weird (but still great) thing about being a gamer creeping up on 30 years of age is that, even if I missed some classic gem from the early to mid 80's, I can discover it now and still appreciate it. For example, last week's post about 1981 Namco shooter Bosconian said some kind words about a game I didn't play until nearly twenty years after its creation. This week, another game came to mind that I didn't even know about let alone play until 1999. Like Bosconian, this game wasn't the main draw of the disc it was on, but it became something I associated with the disc just as much if not more than whatever I bought the disc for in the first place. The disc was Animal Crossing, and the game was an old NES title by the name of Clu Clu Land.

Clu Clu Land is a sort of action/puzzle game that...well, think if your school playground consisted of nothing but tetherball poles without the tetherballs. You'd probably just run around grabbing onto ones at random, swinging around, and then letting go to grab onto another, right? That's essentially what this game is, only some spots that you run over reveal what appear to be rupees from the first Legend of Zelda and your goal is to find all of these without slamming into any of the enemies or running out of time. Later levels introduce more obstacles or force you to run over the rupees twice but the gameplay remains the same: swing around like a stripper on crack.

My introduction to the game, as I said, wasn't intentional. A couple friends of mine and I were messing around on Animal Crossing, trying to see what cool things we could find or unlock, and we turned our attention to the NES games. We all really wanted to find a way to get the classics like Super Mario Bros., Punch-Out!!, and The Legend of Zelda, but we ended up at one point unlocking Clu Clu Land, a title that we'd never heard of before that moment. The other two guys in the room didn't think a whole lot of the game, but I sat there playing the thing for about half an hour of repeated failures before we moved on to try other games and get other furniture. Whenever the two of them went to look something up, I found myself quickly moving toward the in-game NES that contained this weird yet classic title to squeeze in a game before they came back with the solution to whatever problem they had. Eventually, we just got out the GBA and transferred the title over so I could play while they messed around in their town. And even though I bought Animal Crossing for the GameCube shortly after that due to a desire to buy furniture and sell fish to Nook for hours and hours a day, I still found myself getting Clu Clu Land as quickly as I could in my own AC town of Spirited. (Well, and Balloon Fight, but that's a story for next week.)

These days, Clu Clu Land is still available, even if you don't have a GameCube copy of Animal Crossing laying around. Anyone with a Wii, an internet connection, and 500 Wii Points to spare can pick it up on the Wii Virtual Console. Although I don't know if I can ever fully recommend throwing five bucks at it, it is one of those games that's great to pick up and play for half an hour here and there.

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