Kudzu (Switch)

Kudzu was originally a modern day homebrew monochrome Game Boy game.  You could even buy a cartridge for it.  And now you can play it on your Nintendo Switch.  In the game, a mysterious asteroid falls on a mountain nearby a mansion and surrounding farmland, which causes the plants to become sentient.  When the invasive plant species Kudzu was introduced, it takes over everything in a plan to rule the world.  A team of botanists are dispatched to research this phenomenon.  You play as the gardener Max, and it’s up to you to solve the mystery of the Kudzu and save the day.  The game is an overhead action adventure that pays homage to classic titles like The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.

The main difference between Kudzu and Link’s Awakening is that the ‘dungeons’ in Kudzu are not found inside caves and doors.  They are interconnected and part of the world map, making it a bit more “Metroidvania-like”  But you’ll still defeat a lot of plant based enemies and ghosts with your machete (sword) and use other gardening tools like a hoe and rake to destroy obstacles and push things around to solve puzzles.  Other gardening gear like gloves, a hat, and boots let you take more damage and bypass thorny brush.

This game has a lot of problems, though, and I’m surprised I saw it all the way through.  I guess I just like Link’s Awakening style games that much (it is my favorite Zelda game).  First of all, I really wish there were warp points to take you to key areas, like shops and whatnot.  You can buy maps and compasses with the mushrooms you find in treasure chests and defeated enemies (it’s the game’s currency), but they aren’t very useful as they only show where treasure chests and save points are.  The game is also a bit buggy and there were a couple of times I got stuck and had to reset the game and start at the last save point.

I also didn’t like how getting hit and your health system works.  When you get hit, you don’t flash and get knocked back.  Well, sometimes you get knocked back, but I’m not sure if you have invincibility frames or not.  Oftentimes it would make me lose control and I either couldn’t move or my controls would be reversed or all wonky for a second.  The only way to see your health is to press the start button to see the subscreen.  The game will warn you when you are at half health and quarter health, but oftentimes it’s too late.  To refill your health, you must manually go to the subscreen and use kudzu jelly that you’ve either bought or picked up from defeated enemies.  There’s a reason why Zelda still uses the heart system…because it WORKS!

And finally, the ending is pretty underwhelming.  After I beat the game, I looked up on YouTube and found out there’s a secret final boss, but the ending really didn’t change much.  I didn’t like the game enough to go back and see what I missed anyway.  But if you can look past the problems and if you really enjoy Link’s Awakening like I do, you may want to check Kudzu out anyway.

Kid Factor:

Nothing too violent or objectionable here.  You hit pixelly plants and ghosts with a machete, and they just disappear when defeated.  The Game Over screen shows a hand with plants surrounding it but that’s it.  Reading skill is a must and younger gamers may find it too difficult.  Kudzu is rated E for Everyone.

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