Wii

North America

Marble Saga: Kororinpa

by Nick DiMola - March 31, 2009, 7:05 pm PDT
Total comments: 22

9

Excellent controls and addictive gameplay define this as one of the Wii's finest.

When the second entry of the Kororinpa series arrived at my door, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I had never actually played the original title, and the only point of reference for the gameplay I could come up with from watching videos was Super Monkey Ball. As a fan of that series, Marble Saga: Kororinpa was definitely of interest to me; conversations with NWR forum members also helped raise my expectations. I had heard them rave about the game's excellent controls and solid gameplay, and it turns out they were on to something.

Marble Saga: Kororinpa is a ball-rolling puzzle (adventure?) game. At the start of each level, the player's ball is placed in the world, and players must use motion control to tilt the world to make the ball reach the goal. Along the way yellow crystals must be collected in order to activate checkpoints, and eventually the exit. Yellow crystals are just one of several collectibles scattered throughout each level. Depending on the difficulty setting, players will have different collectibles to find that have different effects on the world as a whole.

The collectibles available on each difficulty setting tie into the game's rudimentary story. Anthony the Ant needs your help to save his colony and locate the Golden Sunflower Seed. On Easy, players are responsible only for collecting a Stump Temple piece in each level; on Normal, players must also collect the Stump Temple piece in each level, with an optional Green Emerald available for collection as well. Collection of these parts allows players to build the required ships that bring them to new areas, as well as grant them access to the Stump Temple itself (the game's final world). The Expert difficulty tasks players with collecting missing ants from Anthony's colony. As players retrieve these objects, it's clear that the storyline only serves to give purpose to the collection elements.

Hudson has taken a unique approach to the distribution of the game's 100-plus levels across its three difficulty settings. Rather than spread out the levels into tiers of difficulty, they have instead modified each and every level to work in each difficulty setting. This is done through the removal or replacement of certain key pieces of the core level. In some rare cases, small parts were even added in order to collect an object unique to that difficulty setting. By the time players reach Expert mode (which must be unlocked via completion of Normal mode), the levels that were once familiar will look nothing like they once did. While this may seem like a lazy choice in design, in execution it is actually brilliant. What was once a mere 100 levels quickly morphs into a massive 300 levels thanks to a few small tweaks.

While including such a massive selection of levels is great, they would be worthless without solid controls to go along with them. Thankfully, control couldn't be more precise. Players will see and feel a direct control correlation with the stage whether they use the Wii Remote NES-style or pointer-style. Simply tilting the remote rolls the marble around the stage, and players shouldn't be surprised when they need to tilt the remote nearly a full 360 degrees in order to move the ball where it needs to go. Climbing walls, flipping the stage, and a variety of crazy movements are all a part of the fun of Kororinpa. Those accustomed to the plain vanilla ball-rolling physics of Super Monkey Ball are in for a real surprise after just a few rounds. What's most astounding is the ability to give the ball a small nudge just when you need to, and to exactly the degree you intended. The degree of your connection to the in-game world via the Wii Remote is impressive to say the least.

Balance Board control is also included for use on a subset of specifically-tailored levels. In a party situation there is potential for fun, but the mode seems like more of a gimmick than a feasible gameplay option. With such a small subset of levels and extremely tough controls, the mode should only be a short distraction for Balance Board owners; those without the peripheral needn't fret, as they aren't missing much.

The level editing mode found in Marble Saga: Kororinpa is as robust as one could reasonably expect it to be. Recreating each and every level in the game is completely possible given the tools and level pieces provided. Interestingly, the full piece selection is not available from the start. Players unlock "Junk" as they collect extra items in single player mode across the game's three settings. This Junk is used to make new level editor pieces, filling in the gaps that once existed in the editor's library. While the editor is robust, building levels is unfortunately no easy task. Unlike the main game, controlling the level editor feels awkward and clumsy, with depth perception that's difficult to gauge when placing pieces.

Marble Saga: Kororinpa is quite pleasing, both visually and aurally. While neither is exceptional, the graphics and sound are done well, aren't distracting, and add to the game's unique, quirky, and relaxing ambiance.

Marble Saga: Kororinpa is undoubtedly one of my favorite Wii games. Ball-rolling has never been this much fun or this unique. The game's challenge creates for an addictive experience that will draw in players of all types and skill levels. With a large variety of extra collectibles, four-player simultaneous multiplayer, single-player trophy achievements, a level editor, and three difficulty settings, Marble Saga: Kororinpa is a huge offering in a tiny package.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
7 7 9.5 10 9 9
Graphics
7

While the game won't win any awards for its graphical presentation, the art style and locales are appealing and varied. The game runs in 480p and looks smooth.

Sound
7

With only a few tracks, the soundtrack of Marble Saga: Kororinpa in not particularly varied. However, the soft tunes in the background and the satisfying sound effects do a good job of setting ambiance and engaging players in its gameplay.

Control
9.5

Marble Saga: Kororinpa's most engaging feature is its near-perfect controls. With a variety of balls - all with different weight and momentum attributes - each player will undoubtedly find the perfect marble for each situation they encounter. Even small nudges are recognized, allowing for interesting techniques that could never have been so accurate or effective otherwise. Save holding the Wii Remote upside-down, every possible movement is registered perfectly.

Gameplay
10

While the game's trimmings aren't perfect, only one word can describe the gameplay: fun. Regardless of whether you are losing incessantly or tearing up the course, you will always have fun navigating the marble around the world. It's hard to qualify in tangible terms, but playing the game draws you in and doesn't let you go; hours will pass as you play and you won't even realize it.

Lastability
9

With 100-plus levels all varied across three difficulty settings, there is a ton to enjoy in Marble Saga: Kororinpa. Collectibles, junk part synthesis, time attack trophies, Balance Board mode, four player simultaneous multiplayer, and the level editor are just a sampling of the tons of extras that this game includes. Players will not be disappointed by the ridiculous value packed into this title.

Final
9

When I started Marble Saga: Kororinpa, I had no idea that it would quickly become one of my favorite Wii titles. Whether you are alone or in a group, Kororinpa is a blast to play. The near-perfect control coupled with masterfully-designed levels and tons of content makes Marble Saga: Kororinpa a must-own title for all Wii players.

Summary

Pros
  • Engaging and addictive
  • Fantastic, precise control
Cons
  • Expert difficulty is extremely challenging
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

NinGurl69 *hugglesApril 01, 2009

NWR succeeds at playing video games, where most others sites just don't.

The 'Gameplay' breakdown synopsis paragraph looks incomplete.

MaxiApril 01, 2009

Excellent Review Nick!
I am probably going to get this soon.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterApril 01, 2009

Quote from: NinGurl69

NWR succeeds at playing video games, where most others sites just don't.

The 'Gameplay' breakdown synopsis paragraph looks incomplete.

Mario Kart Wii review says hi :D .

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusApril 01, 2009

Quote from: NinGurl69

The 'Gameplay' breakdown synopsis paragraph looks incomplete.

Whoooooops. Fixt.

Thanks for the kind words guys. Also, this game is awesome, GO BUY IT.

CalibanApril 01, 2009

Quote:

On Easy, players are responsible only for collecting a Green Emerald in each level

There are no Green Emeralds in Easy. You only collect Stump Temple pieces in Easy.

Quote:

on Normal, players must collect both the Green Emerald and the Stump Temple piece in each level.

The Green Emeralds are not necessary to complete Normal.

Quote:

While the editor is robust, building levels is unfortunately no easy task. Unlike the main game, controlling the level editor feels awkward and clumsy, with depth perception thats difficult to gauge when placing pieces.

Definitely.

Quote:

I had never actually played the original title

I think you should have played the original title, and I think that you would have given this game a different score.

Quote:

and the only point of reference for the gameplay I could come up with from watching videos was Super Monkey Ball.

Between SMB and SMB2 the controls and ball stats remained the same. SMB players remained happy in regards to those two points.
Between K and K2 the controls are the same, but the marble stats were changed. I'm not happy with that, and I'm not alone as I've already read other people going back to K just to confirm that the K2 marbles feel different. Just as an example, imagine how unhappy you would be if they had given Luigi's movement characteristics to Mario in SMG, wouldn't you be upset?

StratosApril 01, 2009

Thanks for getting this done swiftly.

I'll definitely pick this up in the next couple of months.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusApril 01, 2009

Quote from: Caliban

Quote:

On Easy, players are responsible only for collecting a Green Emerald in each level

There are no Green Emeralds in Easy. You only collect Stump Temple pieces in Easy.

Quote:

on Normal, players must collect both the Green Emerald and the Stump Temple piece in each level.

The Green Emeralds are not necessary to complete Normal.

Thanks for the clarification. The first one was definitely a typo on my part and the second one was just a mistake. Sorry about that, fixed in the review.

As for your other point regarding the changes from the first game to the second, I can't really comment. Due to my extreme enjoyment of this title, I intend on picking up the first at some point. When I eventually play that one I guess I can return to this thread and pass judgment. What was it exactly that changed that makes the first so much better?

NinGurl69 *hugglesApril 01, 2009

The balls are stickier/heavier in the 2nd game, because the gravitational/rotational acceleration traits have been greatly reduced.

In the first game, the balls are almost as tricky to balance as in real life.  They slide/fly off/lose control much more easily.

In that light, it's obvious the 2nd game is the much more accessible of the two.

StratosApril 01, 2009

I think it sounds like preference and what people were used to. It's like the changes between Smash Brothers, Melee and Brawl. The gameplay changes between the N64 and Gamecube Smash games disoriented me so much that I fell off of levels trying to play the game.

NovaQApril 01, 2009

I've been eying this game for a while now, and this just about seals the deal. By summertime, I'm going to be playing with virtual balls. Thanks for the quality review!

CalibanApril 01, 2009

Quote from: Mr.

Thanks for the clarification.

You're welcome.

Quote from: Mr.

What was it exactly that changed that makes the first so much better?

I think Pro summarized my thoughts quite well:

Quote from: NinGurl69]The

It's accessible to newcomers, which I think is beneficial to the series, and also increases the chances that more people will play the game, and hopefully we can get a Kororinpa 3 in another year or two.

Once the Figure Roller is unlocked I think I was much happier knowing that I could get the marble rolling within my playing preference, and it made all that hard work worthwhile.

Even if the game had gotten a lower score I still think it is a worthwhile purchase, specially at its low price point.

AVApril 01, 2009

Is this game $20 too ? I remember the first one retailed for $20

NinGurl69 *hugglesApril 01, 2009

$30 - This is a major big-budget game from Hudson.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusApril 02, 2009

Quote from: Mr.

Is this game $20 too ? I remember the first one retailed for $20

The first one was 40 and this one is 30.

AVApril 02, 2009

i got this mixed up with another game than. One of those games was $20 wasn't it ? I think Mercury meltdown or something.

regardless its a fair price

NinGurl69 *hugglesApril 02, 2009

Mercury Meltdown is typically $10.

MaxiApril 02, 2009

Vega yes it was Mercury Meltdown Revolution.I made the same mistake when this game was announced. It was 20 dollars when MMR came out.It is likely $10 now as Pro points out.

I saw this game when when I was out today. I will probably get it once I send my Wii off and it returns.

GoldenPhoenixApril 02, 2009

Quote from: Maxi

Vega yes it was Mercury Meltdown Revolution.I made the same mistake when this game was announced. It was 20 dollars when MMR came out.It is likely $10 now as Pro points out.

I saw this game when when I was out today. I will probably get it once I send my Wii off and it returns.

I got this mixed up with the previous game since it doesn't have a 2! Oh well at $30 it is pretty much in "Hey it won't hurt to pick it up" territory.

How could you possibly confuse Marble Saga: Kororinpa with Kororinpa: Marble Mania?

KDR_11kApril 02, 2009

Kooloh Limpa!

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusApril 02, 2009

Quote from: KDR_11k

Kooloh Limpa!

LOL

Me and Chessa can barely help ourselves. Every time we talk about that game, at least one time, one of us refers to it as Koro Rinpah!

NinGurl69 *hugglesApril 02, 2009

Tingles likes his balls.

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Marble Saga: Kororinpa Box Art

Genre Puzzle
Developer Hudson Soft
Players1 - 4
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Marble Saga: Kororinpa
Release Mar 17, 2009
PublisherHudson Soft
RatingEveryone
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