Kororinpa – Fun, actually

Kororinpa: Marble Mania for the Wii doesn’t deserve the bad reviews it’s gotten. Thing is, I never would’ve picked this title up on my own except that it got recommended from Ryan on a recent episode of the The 1Up Show. Hooray for game rentals.

Ever stopped along the curb when there’s water streaming downhill to drop a leaf or a stick on top and watch it sail down to the bottom? Something about this always fascinated me.

On Sesame Street, they used to show a 2 min. or so video of a red ball rolling along what I can only think to describe as a mini rollercoaster. Accompanied by a spare drum soundtrack, it would trip little flags that popped up as it passed, along with other things I can’t remember. Eventually it would drop into a funnel and a kid would have their hand cupped underneath as it got churned to pixie dust that they would eat.

I LOVED watching this. Playing Kororinpa is kind of the same for me.

You don’t create the tracks that the ball rolls on. Gameplay consists simply of tilting the Wii-mote to roll the ball along the track (or board) to collect gems and reach the goal. Control is solid and there are no time limits, thank God – you get as many tries as your patience allows. I’ve never played Super Monkey Ball or LocoRoco but this mechanic strikes me as having similarities to both.

The level design can get quite creative. The board will sometimes need to be turned entirely upside down in order to progress. Very, very light puzzle elements here in trying to figure out how to orient it to keep rolling.

Music and art direction are cute. You can choose what kind of ball to use at the start of play, anything from a kitty to a basketball, a galaxy or a ladybug. They make sounds when they roll and bounce, with the latter emitting from the Wii-mote speaker. A subtle touch that I’m glad the developers added in.

Each ball rolls differently which is where difficulty comes in. But you can use whatever ball you like and each level is short and sweet; making this title friendly to casual gamers.

One potential frustrating thing: falling off the board places you at the beginning all over again. I wish they programmed in more “re-spawning” spots all over, but I can see how that would’ve made each level almost too easy. K stopped playing after a while because he’s not into games where a little trial and error is sometimes required to reach the goal.

A split-screen two-player mode is available. It’s as competitive as you make it – each player can go at their own pace. Though K and I quickly turned it into a race.

The game is short too. But I don’t hold this against it. Just about everything in Kororinpa is approachable and fun and I recommend it highly.

I’m not willing to pay full price for it, however, even with my GameFly discount. When it comes down in price, I think it’s a great title to own.

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