December 6th, 2006, 00:42 Posted By: wraggster
It would be a mistake to compare Kororinpa, Hudson's Japanese Wii launch title, with Sega's Super Monkey Ball. While both games involve rotating a maze around in order to guide a ball (or a monkey in a ball) to a goal, the Hudson title has some big differences.
Your goal in Kororinpa is to lead a ball from a start point to a goal point. Along the way, you're required to pick up gems that are scattered across the play field. Miss any of these, and the exit point won't open. You're free to restart the maze at any time, with gems that you've collected on previous tries remaining in your possession.
Unlike Monkey Ball, Kororinpa gives you full control over the maze. Using the Wiimote, you can make the maze rotate in all directions, even flipping it upside down. You'll find yourself turning the mazes in every which way in order to get past the many obstacles.
Mazes are full of variety. Some areas require that you guide your ball carefully down narrow pathways, making sure not to fall off the ledges. At other times, you have to rely on your ball's momentum to leap over obstacles. One stage that I encountered early on contained a section that felt like an actual walled maze.
The mazes are set in themed levels. The first stage is a forest setting, with the mazes made of wooden planks and leaves. The second stage is a candy land, with pretzels, bread and sweets serving as the walls and surfaces.
Koronipa brings a few physical twists to the formula. Some parts of the mazes have different surface properties, affecting the movement of your ball. In the forest stage, for instance, some areas are covered with sap, which slows your ball down. Other areas are covered in water and feel more slippery.
The game also includes a large selection of ball types, which also have surface properties that affect how they move. Some balls aren't even round. As you clear the mazes, you earn new balls which can be selected prior to the start of a level.
The big concern is, of course, the accuracy of the Wiimote-based controls. While the controls can feel a bit sensitive at times, on the whole, I haven't had too much trouble getting the mazes to move exactly how I want. I usually find myself holding the controller as if getting ready to throw a dart or a paper airplane.
I did die a whole lot as I made my way through the first twenty or so levels, though. Kororinpa's puzzles can be pretty tough, although so far I haven't come upon anything that I wasn't able to clear after a few tries.
The experience would be a bit better if Hudson had taken a bit more time with the title. There are some notable missing features, including a lack of real time camera movement. If you want to survey your ball's surroundings, you have to go into a menu. Strangely, the camera here is controlled not with the Wiimote, but with the d-pad!
The lack of visual finesse also doesn't help. This is one of the worst looking Wii games around, with no progressive support and visuals that look like they've been blown up to fill the screen. The visuals become glitchy at times, especially if you turn the maze in strange ways.
Kororinpa offers split screen two player support, vertical or horizontal according to your preference, with one player using the Wiimote and the second player using the nunchuck. I was able to try this out a bit and didn't notice any major glitching or slow down. In fact, I preferred playing as second player because the nunchuck actually feels better than the Wiimote at controlling the maze. Sadly, the nunchuck can't be used for single player play.
Outside of the main single player mode and the two player split screen mode, there isn't a whole lot to do in Kororinpa. The game doesn't offer additional challenges or puzzles, nor does it have any of the mini games that help extend the life of games like Monkey Ball.
With the basic presentation for the menus, the poor visuals, and the lack of options, it seems that Hudson rushed Kororinpa out for launch. Despite this, I've enjoyed the game so far, and couldn't stop playing once I started. Short load times and some intriguing maze design make this a fun distraction for early Wii owners, even if there aren't any monkeys in the balls.
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