Name: Marble Saga: Kororinpa
The phrase “third party Wii game” doesn’t do much to inspire confidence in gamers these days, so “third party Wii puzzler with motion controls that’s balance board compatible” may just make you want to run in the opposite direction. Marble Saga: Kororinpa is all of these things; published by Hudson Soft, Marble Saga: Kororinpa is a sequel to 2007 Wii title Kororinpa: Marble Mania, which received mixed reviews. Not just a rehash of the previous game in the series, Marble Saga adds a story, balance board controls, and a level creator, and while some of the additions work better than others, Marble Saga: Kororinpa is more than just another unnecessary Wii game.
Taking inspiration from marble-based puzzle games dating back to 1984’s arcade classic Marble Madness, Marble Saga has the player using the Wii remote to direct the marble by tilting and rotating each level. There are a few marbles to choose from at the outset (I liked the cat ball), and more can be unlocked as the game progresses. While the point of each level is to collect all of the crystals and make it to the end point, the player can also grab parts to be used in the game’s level creator.
Like I mentioned earlier, Marble Saga: Kororinpa does have a plot, but it’s so pointless that you’re better off just ignoring it. This wasn’t a game that needed a storyline, and that effort would have been better spent tightening the controls and working on level design. Do you really need to know that you’re helping an ant named Anthony find some flower as you roll animal-themed balls around multi-dimensional levels? Not particularly. Despite a needless narrative, Marble Saga does offer well over a hundred levels in differently themed environments, offering plenty of gameplay and variety to the player.
Marble Saga: Kororinpa has three different controls schemes: holding the remote vertically, horizontally, or using the balance board. I found the vertical scheme to be nearly unplayable, while holding the remote horizontally felt much more intuitive. There is no button-pressing, and you don’t actually control your marble, but the environment around it. It can be fun, but there are times when the remote just isn’t as responsive as it should be. One small mistake can send your marble flying off the edge and put you back at the start of the level, so when the controls aren’t tight enough, it can really be frustrating. When using the balance board, there are only a select number of non-story levels to play, which makes it feel more like a gimmick than a legitimate control scheme. That being said, the balance board works well enough, but the novelty will probably wear off after a few levels.
The level creator really helps make Marble Saga stand out from other Wii puzzlers, and is an area where the game shines. Each level offers collectable items, and recipes to make other objects can be found throughout the game. In the workshop, you can put various parts together, and it won’t be long until you’re making your own gravity-defying deathtrap. Making original levels adds a new layer of fun to the game, and though the creator isn’t as deep as we’ve seen in some games, it works very well for this title. However, it will take you a good amount of time until you have rolled through enough levels to have a decent collection of parts, so you won’t be able to get building right off the bat.
Up to four players can roll around together, racing to the end of each level. The use of multiplayer puts a whole new spin on Marble Saga, making it into a ridiculous (but often hilarious) party game. In a game where precision and patience count, it’s pretty funny to watch your opponents throw caution to the wind, only to fall off the face of the Earth. The addition of multiplayer also adds to the replay value of Marble Saga. It’s easily accessible, but tough to master, making it perfect for casual and core gamers to play together.
Marble Saga: Kororinpa may not have been mind-blowingly innovative, but it is a solid puzzle game with some unique additions. It’s a good-looking game that can be fun or frustrating, but it may just keep you coming back for more. I only wish that the controls had been a bit more precise, because their inconsistency sometimes made me want to stop playing altogether. Marble Saga: Kororinpa may not be the killer third-party game that the Wii needs, but it’s at least worth noticing.