Review by Retro

"More for the hardcore puzzle fan"

I remember getting Kwirk for my birthday back in '89 or '90 and I didn't know what to think at first glance of the back of the box. When I played it for the first time, I was really disappointed. I've always liked puzzle games, but not this kind.

To start off, if you have the game called Move The Boxes on your computer, then you have a great idea of what Kwirk is like, only Kwirk is a lot more complicated. Kwirk is a cool tomato who wears sunglasses and has a little bit of hair. I don't have the instruction booklet anymore, but I remember reading parts of it and it said that Kwirk must make it through the mazes in order to find his girlfriend, Tammy.

There are three different kinds of games that you can choose from in Kwirk. These three games are called ''Going Up?,'' ''Heading Out?,'' and ''VS. Mode.'' In ''Going Up?'' you get to choose the difficulty of the game whether it's easy, average, or hard. Once you do that, it takes you to a screen in which you can choose from ten different levels. Let's say you choose to go to level 1. Level 1 is real simple. If you look all the way to the left side of the screen, you will see a small flight of stairs. If you can make it to these flight of stairs, they will take you up to the next level. Hence the name ''Going Up?.''

Once you make it to the flight of stairs in ''Going Up?'' in any of the levels, the whole level will flash, and then it will take you to a screen in which it tells you how many steps you took to finish the level (strange huh?) and how long it took you to finish it. Next, you will be able to choose whether or not you want to go to the next floor.

At any time during gameplay in ''Going Up?,'' you can press the A button to make a small menu come up. From the menu, you can choose whether to take back your last move by choosing ''Back,'' to start the level over again from the beginning (Redo), or to go back to the title screen (End).

The second kind of game in Kwirk is called ''Heading Out?,'' and it is a lot different from ''Going Up?.'' In ''Heading Out?,'' you can not choose what level to go to. Instead, you have to choose how many rooms you have to complete in a row. The rooms will all be random and they're never set in a predictable pattern. You can choose from 1 to 99 rooms. If you're good enough, smart enough, and lucky enough to pass all the rooms, it will take you to a screen in which there are a few slots for high scores. Instead of making your way to a flight of stairs, in ''Heading Out?,'' you will be trying to make your way to the open space at the left that leads directly to the next level.

''Heading Out?'' is also different in terms of its look and its features. There is a clock that counts how long it takes you to clear all of the rooms altogether, and there's also a Bonus section at the top right of the screen. The Bonus section always start on a certain point total each time you enter a different room. The longer it takes you to clear the room, the less your bonus points will be. Also, if you get completely stuck, you can press A, which will allow you to start over on the level that you're currently trying to get past. Starting a level over also takes away from your bonus points. Unfortunately, there is not a way to bring up a menu in ''Heading Out?'' like there is in ''Going Up?.'' That means that if you really get stuck and pretty much give up on any of the rooms, you will have to turn your Game Boy off and back on just to get back to the title screen, which can be a major pain. A graph at the bottom left of the screen will always tell you how many rooms you have left to clear.

The third and final kind of game in Kwirk is ''VS. Mode.'' I haven't ever played this one, but it's a two player game in which you and a friend can compete against each other I assume.

In both ''Going Up?'' and ''Heading Out?,'' you will have to choose whether you want to use Diagonal View or Bird's Eye View during the quest to complete these mind boggling puzzles. This is something I haven't ever really understood. In Bird's Eye View, Kwirk will just be a small, round tomato that has no legs. In Diagonal View, Kwirk will be the same cool tomato, but he will have legs. The puzzles don't change any according on which one you choose, I guess it's all a graphical choice of whether you want Kwirk to run around on legs or bounce around without them.

Ok, I hope you're ready to finally hear about what kind of a puzzle game Kwirk is. The puzzles in Kwirk, at least out of the ones I've seen, mostly consist of three different kinds of puzzles. The first type consists of metal-like barriers that have different shapes and can be moved in different directions. For instance, some are in a cross pattern just like the directional pad that is on the Game Boy, and it can be moved in any direction, allowing you to pass through it in any direction. There are other barriers that are straight, and others that are curved in two directions. In this kind of puzzle, you have to find out how to get through all the barriers. If any of the ends of the barriers are directly touching one of the other barriers, it most likely won't let you through.

The second kind of puzzle involves moving blocks around and a few of them involve having to move these blocks into a black barrier and making them both disappear. In some of the levels with blocks, boxes, or whatever you want to call them, there will be something like three boxes lined up on on top of the other. That means that you just have to move these boxes around in a certain way in order to find and open place that leads to the end of that level. There are other levels that have blocks around a dark-looking area that is blocking the exit. To get through these, you have to push the block(s) into the darkened area in the right place. When you do that, both the block and the corresponding part of the blackened space will disappear.

Finally, there are a few levels in which you will not only have to guide Kwirk to the exit, but also what looks to be a piece of lettuce that can also walk. To pass this kind of level, you will have to make Kwirk the tomato team up with this piece of lettuce that is alive, unless you want both of them to become parts of a salad (just kidding). To switch between Kwirk and his lettuce friend, just press Select on the Game Boy.

That's the quirky game of Kwirk for you. The main reason I don't like this game is because it is a million times too hard. I know it's not the game's fault, it's because I just plain suck at this game, but still. I can't even pass all the levels on easy in ''Going Up?,'' let along even trying to get past any of the levels on average or hard. Every time I play Kwirk (once in a blue moon), I always just play a few levels and then get frustrated after about ten minutes of play and I turn the game off.

Pretty much, if you are a puzzle fanatic, and especially if you like games such as Move The Boxes, then Kwirk is definitely for you. However, if you're not that good at Move The Boxes or if you don't play puzzle video games that much, then I would recommend skipping Kwirk.

GRAPHICS - I guess Kwirk's graphics aren't that bad. All there are are bricks as the backgrounds, the puzzles, and of course, Kwirk himself. The graphics that there are in the game don't look bad, but they're not anything great either.

SOUND - The sounds are pretty basic without having any flare to them, but the music is pretty good and it goes great with the game's mood.

CONTROL - All you have to do is move Kwirk in the direction you want him to move, so this isn't a difficult game to learn how to control. However, I thought the controls were a little too responsive. You can barely press any of the directions and Kwirk will take off, possibly moving more spaces than you want him to.

REPLAY VALUE - Like I said in the last paragraph of my review, if you like Move The Boxes type puzzle games or if you're a puzzle fanatic, then you will probably be playing Kwirk a lot more than the casual puzzler will. Myself, Kwirk is the only Game Boy game I own that I haven't played a lot through the years.

OVERALL - Either you like this game or you hate it. Kwirk just isn't my type of puzzle game, I prefer Tetris. I can see that Kwirk was somewhat innovative and that it has its 'cool' qualities for a puzzle game, but I just don't like this kind of game in general. Therefore, I'm not going to give Kwirk a high score just like I wouldn't for any other puzzle game of this kind.


Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 05/09/01, Updated 05/20/02


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