The Kururin franchise began with the release of Kuru Kuru Kururin in 2001 as a Game Boy Advance launch title. Kuru Kuru Kururin has since had two sequels that were only released in Japan (the first title was also released in PAL regions). The only game to even be announced for America was Kururin Paradise, which was showcased at E3 2002. The series follows Kururin, a small bird and the pilot of the Helirin, a spinning propeller. Every game in the franchise is developed by Eighting (or 8ing) and published by Nintendo.
In addition to the three main games, the Kururin franchise has had references in other Nintendo franchises. In Super Smash Bros. Melee, there is a Helirin trophy (although it is referred to as the Heririn, an Americanized version of the Japanese). The Heliren later appeared as an Assist Trophy in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, where it becomes part of the stage that can be jumped on or slid on. There are a variety of trophies and stickers in Super Smash Bros. Brawl that are from the Kururin franchise as well.
Kuru Kuru Kururin
The first game in the franchise (and the only game to be released outside of Japan) was released for the Game Boy Advance in 2001. Kuru Kuru Kururin follows Kururin as he searches for his missing brothers and siblings. The game introduces many of the gameplay standards in the series. The player is able to control the direction and speed at which Helirin moves, although Helirin is constantly rotating. Therefore, levels are top down mazes which must be properly maneuvered. Upon completing a level, the player is given bonuses or stars based on performance in the level.
Kuru Kuru Kururin was relatively well received, even outside of Japan. GameSpot ranked the game a 71% for being a great time waster, although marked it down for its length. Eurogamer and Nintendo World Report both game the game a 90%, among the higher scores, praising its simplicity and lasting appeal. Other publications were not as forgiving, such as Computer and Video Games (50%) and Edge (70%), who declared the game to be overly frustrating and overly simplistic.
Released on December 6, 2002, Kururin Paradise was released only in Japan for the Game Boy Advance. The game follows Kururin, who discovers that his family and teacher have all been kidnapped after a mysterious magic show comes to Kururin Village. Paradise differs from the first game, whereas the first game requires strategy and time, Paradise requires fast reflexes. This is largely due to a new feature introduced, where players can speed up the rotation of Helirin.
Kururin Paradise also introduces a minigame mode, where some levels require Kururin to complete a minigame in order to finish the level. There are a variety of different minigames, where each level marked with a magician's hat contains a different minigame. In addition to these new features, Paradise has multiplayer (expanded from the multiplayer found in the first game), which now includes multiplayer minigames.
On October 14, 2004, Kururin Squash! was released. This game introduced a variety of new features, and is the first game in the franchise to be released on a console (specifically, the Nintendo GameCube). This game follows the Kururin family yet again. This time, the family has won the lottery and been sent on a trip around the world. However, on the return trip, they realize that only three people have returned; Kururin, Kakarin, and Totorin. The goal of the game is to find all of the missing family members.
Kururin Squash! is very similar to Eighting's previous titles, with some new features. The biggest new feature are power-ups for the Helirin, which allow the Helirin to do a variety of things, such as guns, boxing gloves, tornadoes, fire, and spikes. Many of these power-ups are used to fight bosses, which are now found at the end of each stage. In addition to these new features, Squash introduces water levels (rather than the completely aerial levels), which have the Helirin acting as a submarine.