previews\ Jan 26, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Marble Saga: Kororinpa - WII - Preview

Nintendo Wii was meant for more than a few great shakes. But it seems that until the MotionPlus adaptor arrives, that’s all we’re going to get from most developers. Marble Saga Kororinpa, a new puzzle game from Hudson, might be the one exception. Using every part of the Wii remote’s tilt capabilities (as well as those of the Wii Balance Board), Marble Saga Kororinpa is like an old-school board game, challenging players to move the platform instead of the marble (alien ship, football or any other shape you choose) itself.

Over the course of this five-stage demo, the game wasn’t shy in revealing how it plans to make our world a nightmare. Starting off with a fairly simple stage, Marble Saga Kororinpa is made of a series of plain squares suspended in air. Outside of a guardrail or two, there is nothing beyond these squares to protect your marble from falling into the abyss.

With very light and precise motions (holding the Wii remote either forward or sideways), players must delicately tilt the platforms – which are all linked to your remote – and cause the ball to slide toward the goal. It’s a very tricky and trying procedure that makes Super Monkey Ball feel like a cakewalk; in addition to the goal, players must collect every yellow gem in the stage or they will not be allowed to finish. If you reach the end without every gem in hand, the game will push you back to your last checkpoint. Green gems serve as an optional collectible, providing an extra reward for players who take the time to snatch them. That contents of that reward are unknown, however, as those gems did not appear in any of these five stages.

Though the second stage wasn’t that different from the first, the third introduced one of the game’s many additional challenges: moving platforms. These platforms are attached to short rails – when tilting right, they slide in that direction; when tilting left, they slide left. This is not a brand-new concept to gaming, but it’s an interesting challenge because no matter what happens in this scenario the marble never stops moving. There’s a way around this if you can find a wall for the marble to lean up against so that it doesn’t slide. But it still can be very difficult – and requires a lot of patience – to slowly move your hands in order to keep the world steady enough for your ball to end up in the desired location.

The fourth stage, set in what appears to be a desert world, is made up of more than a series of squares. In addition to spinning the marble around fast with curvaceous pathways, there is a 90-degree ramp to overcome. Without any kind of speed boost to push you along, the ramp can only be slid across by tilting the world a full 90 degrees, which requires some serious remote tilting. You won’t have to spin the remote around entirely (which would likely cause many gamers to drop it once or twice), but the game appears programmed to handle that, so there is a chance for that in the final version.

Marble Saga Kororinpa concluded its gameplay tease with a taste of what the ice stages will be like. These levels include slippery patches of ice (tilt with caution – the marble will slide off!), upside down navigation (the marble connects with two magnetic poles, which are also fairly slippery), and a couple of speed boosts that are both helpful and dangerous.

Wii Balance Board controls were not supported in the demo, nor was the split-screen multiplayer (for up to four players) active. But if the single-player content and Wii remote controls are any indication, the Balance Board should provide another kind of challenge to test our patience.

Rolling into stores this spring, Marble Saga Kororinpa should be a fun and uncommon game for puzzle fans everywhere. Stay with GameZone for more on this promising puzzler in the coming weeks.

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