This beautiful WiiWare adventure is too unforgiving for its own good.
WiiWare has given independent developers from all over the world the opportunity to showcase their small but creative titles that may have otherwise been ignored had they been released at retail. ColorZ from European developer Exkee is the newest member of the WiiWare family, a title that is ambitious in both themes and concept but could have been designed better.
Even if the story isn't fleshed in the game itself, ColorZ does have a reason of being. The story is that a colorful alien world has been invaded by these strange viruses, and now it's up to three aliens to rid of them all. In ColorZ, you control up to three spaceships, the goal of the game is to rid the world of the colorful but deadly virus that poisons it and survive until you reach the end of the stage. The player uses colored ships to absorb the corresponding color. For example, if the spaceship is green then it must absorb a green virus. Absorb the incorrect color and you lose a life. The stages scroll similarly to classic arcade overhead shooters, so the player guides the spaceship through them, keeping away from danger.
The colors of the three main ships vary in some stages but are based on the primary colors (red, yellow, green and blue). In the event that you encounter a virus not of your color, you can merge two ships and create a new color. For example, in the event that you encounter a path filled with purple viruses, merging the red and blue spaceships creates one purple spaceship. It's clear that knowledge of the basic colors is a must to play this title. A stage is complete when you absorb and survive the viruses and land your spaceships on the landing pad at the end of the level. There are four worlds, each consisting of five stages. All can be played in single or multiplayer. Depending on how well you do, you will be awarded bronze, silver or gold medals.
In theory, the idea behind ColorZ is a unique and compelling one, thanks to its use of colors. The biggest issue, however, is that it’s a very unforgiving game when played as a single player adventure. The player has to control the three ships and guide them through the scrolling world. The main spaceship is controlled by using the Wii Remote pointer, the second spaceship is controlled by the Nunchuk, and the third spaceship is controlled by the D-pad on the Wii Remote.
Due to this method of control, ColorZ becomes an exercise in multitasking. While not impossible, it can get pretty hard to place your attention on three spaceships while making sure they are safe from danger and absorb the correct color virus. It doesn't help that the game can get pretty challenging, with enemies following your spaceships as well as the screen scrolling at a fast pace in many of the stages. Worse of all, there are no checkpoints when you are defeated, meaning that you start at the beginning of the level.
However, ColorZ allows up to three players in a co-op mode. This mode makes the game very fun and accessible, since each player takes control of his or her own spaceship, keeping the game challenging without overbearing any one player.
Besides the main adventure, there are no additional game modes, leaving high scores and gold medals as the main reasons to keep playing. But the idea of controlling three individual spaceships, along with the unforgiving level of difficulty, can drive away some gamers.
ColorZ is one pretty game to look at. It might not be the most detailed game on the WiiWare service, but but it uses very colorful sprites, complete with amusing little aliens that react to their environments in a quirky manner.
In the end, ColorZ has some good intentions, and as a multiplayer title, it's very solid. The problem is that the single-player side hasn't been designed to accommodate one player, making the game too hard and possibly alienating many gamers who thought there was something to look forward to underneath all the color.