Everybody loves to cut the grass in The Legend of Zelda games, not only are there goodies hidden within but there’s also something cathartic about doing it. So what about if there was an entire game where you could do that? That game is The Legend of Kusakari and it’s a lot of fun.
In The Legend of Kusakari you play as the hero Shiba Kari, but he’s not a hero because he’s a valiant knight or he saves a princess from an evil lord – no he’s a hero because his job is to keep the battlefield clear. You see soldiers fight better when there’s no grass in their way, and Kari-san wants his soldiers to fight the best. Sure the story, is fairly corny but that’s the point, the game even makes fun of itself which means you can just get on with having fun.
The game has a couple of modes, but the bulk of the game can be experienced through 50 levels in the Mission Mode. The aim is to cut down all of the grass in the shortest amount of time. You’re not just racing the clock for the best time, you see Shiba Kari might be a hero of lawn control, but he’s super unfit and while the hearts on the screen do show your life, it’s also your stamina. So if you run into enemies, who are fighting around you as you slice the lawn, you’re also losing stamina at the same time. Different surfaces also affect how fast your health drains, in sand you’ll lose it faster, and there’s also swamps to watch out for.
For the first handful of levels the heath doesn’t really matter, they’re quite small but later on you’ll need to not only stay away from the enemies but also find the special blue grasses that keeps Shiba Kari going. The standard lighter coloured grass takes one slash to take down, but there’s darker grass later on which takes two. You’ll want to use the bottom screen to see where everything is and plan a route through the level. Once you finish the level you’ll be rewarded with a rank and given a time, there’s also some achievement like system which I’ll go over later. The best rank you can get is an S rank which is insanely hard to get, you’ll want to get as many as you can though so you can unlock a bonus chapter at the end of the game.
The game plays fairly simple, there’s two types of scythe swings a simple swing which usually can only take out a couple of blades, or a spin attack which is a little more unwieldy but you’ll seen learn how to keep it all out of control. You can also level up your scythe during each level by only hitting grass and not missing, the more you hit the higher your level goes and the further your spin attack reaches. Miss and your level decreases and you’re not going to hit those fast times. There’s a rhythm to the game and it did take me a while to figure it out, whereas in say Link to the Past you can just move and slash, you need to move and only slash a specific timing or Shiba Kari will slow down and stop, it can be frustrating to start but you’ll get it in a few minutes.
You’ll burn through the single player mode over a couple of play sessions, but there is reason to go back a second time. Each level has an extra achievement like objective to complete. You won’t know what it is until you finish a level but you might end up getting the objective on the first go. The objectives range from not getting hit, not healing, completing a level without hitting once and more. The Greenthumb Almanac which contains all of these objectives is hidden away in the games settings, which is a little weird.
The real hidden gem in here though is the game’s endless mode. You’re presented with a big open field just with grass and enemies and like the main game you hearts slowly whittle down. There’s blue grass for health, you’ll need to keep an eye on the bottom screen and race over to it when it spawns, you don’t want to miss out because it could be the difference between going a little while longer or not at all. Once you got a ‘system’ down you can keep going for quite a while, but make sure not to hit anyone or you’re pretty much done. This mode also has online leaderboards, further extending that ‘just another go’ feeling, they’re quick to load too but only update when requested, which is a little annoying.
The Legend of Kusakari is presented fairly simply, the art style is cute and gets the job done. There’s nothing particularly remarkable going on technically, but it doesn’t matter you’ll be too focused on your goals rather than looking at the game world. The games music is also fairly good overall, except for one part. Following on from the ‘not quite a hero’ motif, there’s a band in the game that plays the game’s theme, and one of the trumpet players in it plays his notes off key every single time and honestly it hurts my ears. It’s meant to be endearing, just like the main character that this band isn’t quite right – but it made me play with the sound down or off most of the game which doesn’t actually help you get into the groove of cutting grass.