Review: The later levels of this game might really clinically give you marble mania.
When Nintendo first announced the Wii's unique control scheme, I'm sure many people instantly had the same idea- ?That will make for a great Monkey Ball game!? It then came as no surprise when one was released right along with the system. This leads me to wonder why Hudson decided to make a game with such a similar premise. Kororinpa: Marble Mania is basically an old-fashioned marble labyrinth game that is a surprisingly fun, albeit somewhat shallow experience.
The game play is a lot like Super Monkey Ball, minus the bananas and, you know? the monkeys. Players will need to balance a marble down a complex path filled with obstacles while collecting gems to open the exit warp. If the marble slips off the path, the player will have to start over again.
Players will need to aim the Wiimote at the TV and twist it like a doorknob, or tilt it forwards or back to move the surface on which the marble is sitting to make it move. It all works very intuitively and takes only a few minutes learn.
Kororinpa's real draw is in the mind-boggling stage design. The first few stages are plain vanilla, offering little more than an example of what the player can expect from the later portions of the game. Stages feature strange obstacles such as giant scissors that will block the marble's path, slick spots that will speed the marble up, but cause it to be harder to control, and magnetic rails that will lift the ball over gaps. Players will also be expected to navigate over curved paths, spheres, and tunnels. The game gets interesting when the paths force players to flip the Wii-mote upside down or sideways. Unfortunately, it is at these points when the controls start to fall apart. I found navigating the marble rather difficult when the Wii-mote was being held upside down. Perhaps this was because it was unable to interact with the sensors. Regardless, the game works far better right side up.
Besides being timed, players need to find a series of orange gems scattered through every maze to open the stage's exit. The game gives awards for record-breaking times. These awards are usually different marbles that have various advantages or disadvantages. For instance, one of the marbles is shaped like a football (one of those pigskins to you folks from outside the States). Obviously the ball's oblong shape makes it complicated to move around the world. You can unlock new stages by finding special green gems in each level.
The biggest problem with the game is its short length. The game has roughly 40 stages plus mirrored versions of those stages? and that's it. Sure there's a multiplayer mode, but it's nothing more than a glorified 2-player race through all the unlocked tracks. Otherwise, there just isn't a lot to bring players back once after the game's initial fun.
Visually the game is passable. The game doesn't look awful, but it won't win any awards for best looking game on the Wii. Really, it looks about the same as some of the early generation GameCube games. It's not distracting, but not great either. Also, the game does not run in progressive scan.
The audio is about as bland as it gets. I liked the almost too relaxing menu music. As for the levels, be prepared to hear the same song over and over and over. Every 10 or so stages share the same song, which means those songs will grow old very fast.