Jenga World Tour – NDS – Preview


E3 2007 Preview

Party games come in all shapes on
sizes, especially in the world of video games. Since Nintendo Wii is adept at
re-creating real-world experiences, Atari decided that it would be interesting
to experiment with a classic party game that is typically played with blocks,
not a console: Jenga. My mind was filled with ideas the moment the game was
announced. I envisioned myself pushing and pulling the remote to carefully
remove a piece from the unstable tower.

That vision was dead on. If you’ve
played the tangible Jenga, you know what to expect from the virtual iteration.

Players use both the Wii remote and
nunchuck in this game, but the remote is where most of the gameplay unfolds. You
use it and its motion capabilities to aim your cursor, which is a colored,
rectangular object that grips each piece of the puzzle. Light tilts and aims are
all it takes to get the remote to respond. If you’re looking for some help,
press the number 2 button and the easiest pieces will be highlighted in green.
The most difficult pieces will be highlighted in darker colors, red being the
most challenging.

Once you’ve found a piece you’d like
to move, point the remote in its direction and press the A button. Now the piece
is locked on. You can move the remote off screen and nothing will happen (in
this build, at least — many developments are still in the works). To remove the
piece, do as a Jenga player would and pull the remote toward yourself. Right now
the game works best when the remote was aimed at the piece that needed to be

The game has a ways to go but the
physics are already showing great promise. Move the remote with a little too
much force and other blocks will be moved in the process. Fast actions are often
less steady, leading to a rumble that could shake loose the whole tower. The
same can be said for when you try to take back a move that proves to be
unsatisfactory. In the demo it was unclear as to how far back a move could be
taken. But if you don’t pull a block out too far, you will be able to push it
back in.

Multiplayer is the number-one area
of anticipation for Jenga, and since it’s turn-based, you’ll only need one Wii
remote to play. When a block has been gripped and carefully removed, the only
thing left to do is place it on the top of the pile. Again, flow through the
motions you normally would when playing Jenga: push the remote toward the
screen, drag the remote down, and release. A green-lit, transparent box helps
indicate when the block is in an acceptable area. It will not turn green until
you’re within that range. If you choose to drop the block anyway, the game will
not allow you to continue. Also, the block may be dropped away from the board
without penalty. I suspect this feature may change, unless the developers add a
reason for doing this (aside from giving the player a breather, which is all it
seemed to do in the build).

Lastly, Atari revealed that the game
will offer many different kinds of block types, including ice and fire. It is
not currently known what trouble the fire blocks will cause, but with ice,
players will have to be extra cautious. Ice blocks may start to melt and freeze
together, preventing them from being moved. This was shown in the demo, and
Atari said that the ice blocks will also be slippery and thus more difficult to
move. Slight actions could magnified, making this more than a video game version
of the Jenga experience. Additionally, there will be water physics that come
into play in a special water stage where the blocks move slower and more
sluggishly, as if they were really submerged. In another stage, the tower may be
affected by the ground as dinosaurs rumble by. Want more craziness? Go ahead,
the game won’t mind. Tack on an alien ship and watch in horror as it destroys
the tower, ruining the game for the player currently taking his or her turn.
(Run kids, the aliens are coming, the aliens are coming!)

Coming to the Wii and DS this
November, Jenga is on schedule to becoming one of the year’s best party games.
Stay tuned to GameZone as we bring you more on this and other games shown at E3
in the coming months.

For All E3 2007 GZ