Throwback Thursday - Kickle Cubicle for Nintendo NES
One day while I was at the local mall with my father and brother, Kay-Bee Toys was running a sale on Nintendo cartridges. This had to be around Spring of 1991 at this point, as I remember Sega Genesis being available, but not Super Nintendo. Looking back, most likely Kay-Bee Toys was trying to move some NES titles out of inventory to make room for the upcoming summer launch of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. I remember clearly that there was a sale on select NES titles for $19.99 each, which was a huge discount at the time. Typically hot titles retailed at $49.99 each, so more than 50% off was an incredible deal. From reading Nintendo Power cover to cover, I knew for the most part which games were good, and which were straight trash. Using this knowledge combined with renting, I usually had a good shot at picking a game that was worthy of owning.
During this particular shopping trip, I had saved up my allowance for months with the intention of buying a single cartridge. Because of the sale, I had enough money for two, with ten dollars to spare. I remember there being many third-party titles available, nothing super popular like Contra or Double Dragon II, but there were some gems available. Two games I had not played before were Kickle Cubicle and River City Ransom. I remember vividly that these were definitely two I wanted to play, as the Nintendo Power previews for both were quite positive. I took a chance on both, as the sale was too good to pass up. (A few months later, River City Ransom was discounted even further down to $9.99.)
Kickle Cubicle is a single screen puzzle game where you play Kickle who has the ability to freeze enemies by using his breath and can create blocks of ice as needed. Developed and published by Irem (Kung Fu, R-Type), the game plays similarly to the Adventures of LoLo, but at a faster pace, especially in the later levels. Kickle is from Fantasy Kingdom, where one day the evil Wizard King has turned everything in the land to ice. Kickle must collect the magical dream bags in each level, and defeat each guardian of the four lands to restore balance and order. The game isn't extremely difficult to complete, and afterwards you are treated to a bonus world with 30 additional levels.
The controls are smooth, the music is catchy, and the graphics are detailed with vibrant colors throughout the game. It has to be one of the best puzzlers on the system, and is an excellent port of the Japanese arcade title. Kickle Cubicle is in my top 30 Nintendo games of all time, and is definitely worth checking out. It's not very difficult to find, but it's not super common either, still obtainable for under $20 today. Find yourself a copy, and chill out with some frozen puzzle action!