When Nintendo followers take into consideration the NES, video games like Tremendous Mario Bros. and Metroid could be the primary to spring to thoughts. However one of many 8-bit console’s finest titles is a lesser-known Pac-Man knockoff that’s secretly wormed its manner into a few of Nintendo’s most iconic franchises.
Launched as an NES launch title in North America, Clu Clu Land is a unusual puzzle sport developed by the identical Nintendo R&D crew answerable for Donkey Kong and Tetris. At a look, it doesn’t look a lot completely different than Pac-Man. Gamers transfer a purple blob round a grid, avoiding enemies and grabbing bonus fruit alongside the best way.
The distinction is that Clu Clu Land is extra akin to one thing like Picross. The objective is to uncover a secret image on the grid by weaving by means of goalposts and discovering gold ingots. The grid is crammed with hidden obstacles like invisible bounce pads, which continually preserve gamers in search of a brand new path to type the complete image. It’s a singular mixture of top-down navigation and logic puzzle gameplay that creates a hybrid sport that felt forward of its time.
In the event you’re a paid Nintendo Swap On-line subscriber, you possibly can play Clu Clu Land proper now without cost by downloading the Nintendo Leisure System app.
Regardless of being comparatively unknown in Nintendo’s catalog as we speak, Clu Clu Land pops up in some really surprising locations. My first publicity to the sport was within the authentic Animal Crossing. Earlier than the times of Digital Console or Swap On-line, gamers may gather and play NES classics throughout the GameCube title. When I discovered Clu Clu Land in my village, I had no concept what it was, however I discovered myself taking part in it for hours whereas barely touching previous favorites like Excitebike.
Even should you’ve by no means heard of it, there’s nonetheless an opportunity you’ve come throughout its DNA elsewhere. The Japanese guide for the unique Legend of Zelda says that the sport’s one-eyed digdogger enemy is definitely a big model of Clu Clu Land’s urchin-like Uniras.
Uniras haven’t simply appeared in Zelda. Ever surprise what precisely the gray, spiky ball within the Tremendous Smash Bros. collection is? That’s truly an Unira, straight out of Clu Clu Land. The sport’s protagonist, Bubbles, even seems in Tremendous Smash Bros. Melee as a trophy. The cameos don’t cease there. Bubbles was a playable character in Sport Boy Advance sport DK: King of Swing, a number of WarioWare video games function Clu Clu Land minigames, and it makes an look in Nintendo’s NES Remix collection.
Contemplating how closely referenced it nonetheless is, it’s stunning that Nintendo hasn’t carried out a lot with the franchise exterior of the unique NES sport. Even revisiting the sport as we speak, it’s clear that Clu Clu Land is a particular puzzler that’s a definite piece of Nintendo’s storied historical past. That provides it a kind of everlasting hidden gem standing that reminds us simply what number of nice video games there are on the NES that followers won’t find out about. It looks like there’s at all times one thing new to find over 20 years later.