Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Wii REVIEW: Kororinpa: Marble Mania

The basic premise of Kororinpa will be familiar to anyone who has played any of the Super Money Ball titles, particularly the recent Wii incarnation. You are tasked with guiding a marble around increasingly complex levels while collecting crystals and reaching the goal as quickly as possible. Kororinpa differs slightly from Monkey Ball in that all of the red crystals on a level must be collected before the goal is activated. In addition, there is one green crystal for each of the 45 main levels, that when collected, unlock a total of 14 secret levels.

The game puts the Wii remote to good use and is one of the few Wii games where motion control is not just tacked on. Unlike say, Sonic and the Secret Rings (which would’ve actually been a better game without motion control); Kororinpa benefits from it and wouldn’t be as much fun without it. The remote allows for precise control of the stages, which are what you are really manipulating, not the marble. Steady hands and patience are the name of the game, especially on what few tricky levels there are.

The game only makes use of the tilt sensor in the remote, with no IR sensing at all, which is fine because it doesn’t really need to. Menus are navigated using the D-pad on the remote and a nunchuk is not necessary.

Graphically the game does the job, it’s presented in 480i, 4:3 but it still looks decent on my 30” HD set. It’s not the type of game you’d expect next-gen visuals from anyway. The sound is equally unobtrusive, the music isn’t great but it never really gets annoying either. The game’s entire presentation is very basic.

Where Kororinpa falls apart is in its length, you can blow through all 45 of the main stages in a matter of 1-2 hours depending on your previous experience rolling balls through mazes. The difficulty never approaches the tear-your-hair-out frustration level of Super Monkey Ball but a variety of unlockable theme marbles, which can be harder or easier to navigate through the levels, allow you to adjust the difficulty somewhat.

Upon completing the 45 initial stages you will automatically unlock mirror mode, which lets you play through mirrored versions of all the original 45 stages. Depending on your dedication to “completely” finishing a game, and again, how much you enjoy rolling balls around mazes, the game’s replay value varies tremendously. Depending on how many green crystals you picked up your first time through the game, going back to collect them can take 30 minutes to an hour. The 14 stages you unlock from them can be completed in 30 minutes or less, easily. If you’re so inclined, you can also replay the levels to achieve gold medals for getting the best time. Scoring 25 gold medals, which in itself is not overly difficult, leads to a handful of additional levels.

If you are looking for something halfway decent to play on your Wii, you could do a lot worse than giving Kororinpa a rental, especially if Wii is your only system. Even with a $40 price tag though there’s just not enough to justify a purchase.

  • Excellent motion control courtesy of the Wii remote
  • Fun, if not overly challenging, gameplay
  • Way too short
  • At $40 it's overpriced

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