Somewhat surprisingly, Hello Kitty's Cube Frenzy has been introduced into the American market at a time when the popularity of puzzle games as a genre is at an all-time low. Back in the good ol' NES days, plenty of developers released these games, and there were too many to play then, much less recall now. As console systems grew in technological leaps and bounds, and console gamers matured, genre restrictions dropped away, and the one-screen puzzle game became confining and, eventually, unmarketable. Enter NewKidCo, publisher of Hello Kitty's Cube Frenzy. Seizing the nearly untapped market of child gamers on the PlayStation, it decided to license and publish this game - and that's good news for fans of the genre, young and old alike.
The game's grip on plot is tenuous at best, and who would be interested in it, anyway? Hello Kitty is vacationing on an island when Badtz Maru douses her in tripodelic spores. She is whisked away to a magical candy-colored land of gleaming cubes and robbed of the R&R she so richly deserves. Right. Anyway, the main object here is a simple one: Gather all the items on a stage to progress to the next one. Hello Kitty runs back and forth semi-controllably, scampering pell-mell into the shrieking abyss if you let her. Your only defenses against this are the L and R buttons, which can make her change direction, and groups of blocks that magically fall from the sky in the manner of any latter-day puzzle game you'd care to mention. The only catch is that these blocks, while clearable in a Columns-like fashion, can be stacked to build bridges and walkways for Kitty to traverse as she collects the myriad fruit, lipstick, and rodeo boots littering the landscape. Clearing them serves no purpose directly - you are awarded with more time for Kitty's quest for each cleared set, and you can unblock the way to treats, but it is not the main object of the game.
Most PlayStation consumers will not even give this game a look; NewKidCo, as is easily inferred, is marketing it toward the "little sister" demographic. Puzzle fans who aren't easily dissuaded by the cotton-candy and gumdrop graphic style of the genre or the derisive snickers of many Silent Hill-buying PlayStation fans would be well-advised to pick this game up. Although it starts off easy, it quickly becomes devious, and a multitude of levels and characters (their only function is to run back and forth as mindlessly as Kitty, but they'll be interesting to Sanrio aficionados) can become unlocked. This is an extremely long game for the solitude-seeking serious puzzle gamer, like the classics of yore. It also includes both cooperative and versus two-player modes, both of which can be fun, depending on the bloodthirstiness of your puzzle-gaming pastel persona. Versus mode is especially amusing, as you use your colored-cube power to destroy that which your opponent has wrought and send their fluffy baby tumbling into the yawning chasm at the bottom of the screen.
In short, Hello Kitty's Cube Frenzy can be just that - a frenzy. Kitty toddles dangerously close to the edge, and Badtz Maru, Hanamaru, and Pandaba do their devilish best to block her every motion toward salvation. The result is a solid and enjoyable puzzle game that both Sanrio fans and fans of the genre will definitely enjoy. A few screamed expletives and chucked controllers later, you are rewarded with the sight of Hello Kitty Angel, and honestly, what more could you possibly want?