Quirky, unique games are my cup of tea. Games like Katamari Damacy and Drill Dozer, with interesting game play and simple graphics, appeal to me just as much as the massive epics like Halo and Final Fantasy.
Kororinpa: Marble Mania is yet another one of those games; simple in design, yet an enjoyable experience through and through. Released by Hudson for the Wii, Kororinpa embodies the spirit of the 1980s arcade classic Marble Madness in a way that the Super Monkey Ball series could only wish it did. In fact, Kororinpa outclasses Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, the Sega franchise’s Wii entry, in just about every way.
Kororinpa features 45 levels of game play, five of which are hidden away, as well as a multitude of choices for marbles to use. Some, like the Cat Ball and Panda Ball, only provide aesthetic changes in look or sound, while others, like the Football or Soccer Ball, change the dynamics of the game’s control. The game also features a multiplayer mode for racing through mazes, but the real star is the single-player mode.
Kororinpa’s structure is simple. Players have to roll through a maze, tilting and turning to pick up orange crystals and reach the end, all while avoiding falling off the course. There are also green crystals, often hidden off the beaten path, that by collecting unlock secrets in the game. Level designs don’t include enemies, but do include navigating past giant scissors that can block your path, over jumps, into cannons that fire you into the air, across ice-covered paths where control is harder, and much, much more. Players are also judged based on their time and are given a corresponding trophy if they beat the right time requirements.
What sets Kororinpa apart from Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz is how it handles. Where Banana Blitz felt tight and hard to control, Kororinpa feels responsive and just loose enough to feel right. The Wii remote is used to tilt the course up and down, as well as left and right, which in turn moves the ball through the maze. Flicking the Wii remote up allows you to jump the ball, which becomes useful in later levels. To help you figure out if your Wii remote is level, the game includes a small level guide in the bottom left corner that can be turned on or off. Overall, the controls are easy enough to pick up that anyone can really play this game, which for the Wii, is a very good thing.
The game isn’t too graphically stunning, but because it’s simplistically designed, what’s there looks great. The soundtrack is catchy and upbeat, and adding the little meows of the Cat Ball to the mix only makes the light and fluffy beats of the sweets-themed mazes that much cuter. Kororinpa literally emits high levels of cute at certain points, so those of you who can’t absolutely, positively stand anything that’s not gritty and realistic might want to look elsewhere.
The only real problem and letdown with the game is that it’s way, way too short. Even novice gamers should be able to finish the game in about 10 hours, and that’s a pity, because Kororinpa is the kind of game you could easily lose yourself in. There needed to probably be close to 100 different, unique levels for Kororinpa to have fixed this problem, not 45 plus their mirror versions.
Still, given that this is Hudson’s first shot with the Wii, Kororinpa is a pretty good game, especially compared to Hudson’s much-weaker effort with Wing Island. Kororinpa is the kind of game that once you get, you won’t soon forget.
Kororinpa: Marble Mania is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.