Balls to the wall action.
Inspired by the classic marble rolling game of Labyrinth, Kororinpa: Marble Mania invites players to roll marbles through various mazes and obstacle courses, using the Wii remote to tilt the entire playing field. Achieving a simple but fun concept, Kororinpa is an enjoyable experience perfectly suited for the Wii’s control scheme.
Kororinpa plays similarly to Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, but with buttons facing exactly perpendicular to the ceiling as the remote’s neutral position. Players guide a ball through each course and must collect all of the crystals found within a level before reaching the goal. Falling off of the course, reaching the goal without collecting all of the crystals, or pressing A returns the ball to the start position. Players can reset position as many times as they want, but the clock will continue to tick.
Players can earn trophies on each level through quick completion times, and earning several will unlock bonus stages. Additionally, a single green crystal is found within each level, and collecting these gems also unlocks secret stages. A mirror mode is unlockable as well. An assortment of different marbles can also be earned, and each ball has its own control characteristics, which may make the clearing of a level easier or harder. Some, like the football, aren’t even spherical, and some balls include cute sound effects like cat meows.
Simply put, Kororinpa is the most tactile experience available on the Wii. With truly one-to-one controls, the boards move in concert to tilting of the remote flawlessly. From wall impacts to conveyor belt rumbling, the rumble feature of the remote truly makes you feel like you have your hand in the game. The physics are spot-on, and allow the ball to react to different materials and textures exactly as one would expect. The assortment of ball choices also provides different, but realistic control response. The sounds, both on screen and on the remote, perfectly complement the experience.
While play time is lengthened by the necessity of item collection, it takes some of the wind out of simply getting the ball to the goal as fast as possible. Course design varies; some courses are designed as survival obstacle courses, whereas others act more like mazes. More interesting levels require you to turn the entire course 90 degrees on its side, which opens paths that aren't apparent when the remote is level. In addition, some course elements move in response to tilting the remote while others move on their own.
Although the control is excellent, the lack of camera adaptation occasionally lets parts of the course obstruct your view of the ball, which can be frustrating when it’s already hard to judge distance. Additionally, if you’ve ever played the original Labyrinth, you’ve probably attempted flinging the ball over walls as a short-cut. With no physical repercussions, this is an even more inviting option in Kororinpa. Sometimes it works, but often the game will detect the launch as an off-course miss, even though the ball would have safely landed on a platform.
The game includes a two player mode, which simply has players race each other through the same maze on a split screen. Unfortunately, there is no direct interaction between the two marbles. Both players must complete the maze before the game is over, which is either nice in that it allows both players to finish their game, or painful if the losing player is particularly bad at a given level. One nice feature is that the multiplayer can be played with either two remotes or a shared remote/nunchuk duo.
The main downside to Kororinpa is that it is quite short. The game includes 60 levels, but their shortness is exacerbated by their relative ease. The title would have benefitted greatly from more levels, or even better, a level editor. Perhaps we can hope for a sequel with such features. Nevertheless, since the game is one giant time-trial, Kororinpa opens itself up to a fair amount of replay.
Kororinpa: Marble Mania is a very good game that makes excellent use of the Wii remote, allowing players to really feel the game. Its greatest failing is simply that the fun ends too soon.