Friday, 28 February 2014

Krunel (ZX Spectrum)

The ZX Spectrum is like the 8-Bit equivalent of one of those local punk bands stuck touring the toilet-circuit; it might not be the prettiest or the best sounding act, but the Speccy at least has a spark of independence, defiantly strutting about the stage with its garish palette, ludicrous colour clash and glitchy sounding soundchip. And hey, I love me some punk.

Krunel from, is a simple Puyo-Puyo style puzzle game that neither deviates from the classic formula nor has any stand-out features (other than being a new 21st century game running on arcane hardware). Really, there's no reason for it to exist, but this is a Spectrum we're talking about here - and Speccy developers just do whatever they like.

As you'd expect, you are tasked with matching horizontal, vertical and diagonal rows of matching tiles using blocks that descend from the top of the screen. Sure, we have all seen this game before, and Krunel does a pretty great job of doing it all over again on the Spectrum. You make lines, they disappear, points go up and the game gets faster. End of story. Controls are solid, but watch out for the drop speed as holding the space-bar for more than a nano-second will send multiple sets down quicker than rain.

Krunel is immediately playable, and the people over at get a big thumbs up from RGCD for using icons instead of just colours. As a colour blind individual this is a breath of fresh air as often I find myself reacting slower than my fellow gamers in puzzle titles, constantly blundering the greens with red, blues with purples and oranges with yellows. Another big plus is that Krunel not only uses icons, but also has a wealth of different ones on offer so you can pick your favourites. My tileset of choice was as selection of 1-Bit rendered famous robots, immediately identifiable as R2D2, Bender, WALL-E, and some other not-so famous one that probably never gets invited to LAN parties. Not good ones anyway.

Being fair to the Spectrum's limitations, the graphics are pretty excellent for a puzzler, a genre noted for its playability but rarely its visuals. All of the icons are crisp, well defined and look great. The other elements on screen are understated but clean. On a similar note (pun intended), musically the game is a fantastic example of the how to use the 'challenging' sound hardware, with tunes that are full of energy and believe it or not, genuinely a pleasure to listen to. Whoever pulled off this amazing feat are wizards*, jumping the grand canyon on a rocket bike whilst flipping the bird... in sunglasses. (*also known as V0yager & Ziutek).

So, should you add this to your collection? For the asking price of free you simply couldn't ask for more, and like the best underground punk bands this gem will probably go unnoticed, and to be frank - it doesn't give a fuck.

Download the game here (from the website).
Run it using Spectaculator (shareware) or Klive (freeware).
4 out of 5