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Kororinpa: Extended Playtest
Written by James Hobbs

This game has troubled me since I first heard of it. An unprounounceable name coupled with a tilt-based puzzler isn't my idea of an enticing package, and early screenshots of the game looked a bit... well, a bit like Super Monkey Ball. However, I'm very pleased to say that I still cannot pronounce the name, but I think the game's pretty damned good.

Kororinpa Screenshot
It's just so happy!
Kororinpa eschews a plot in favour of a wonderfully charming, surreal series of levels that you have to navigate your way through. The premise is similar to that of Super Monkey Ball - you tilt the game environment using the Wii remote, in order to move a small marble-like creature to the exit, collecting gems along the way. It is somewhat difficult at first to successfully control the environment, due to the sensitivity of the Wii remote, but thankfully it doesn't take too long to become vaguely adept.

The marbles themselves are very cute, ranging from a frog to a panda, and add immeasurably to the silly appeal of the game. Each one has slightly different abilities that vaguely affects how it moves through each level - in all honesty, we couldn't really tell the difference. The Panda was a particular favourite, thanks to a welcoming 'Super-Easy' banner positioned beneath it, but the difference between the Panda and the Ladybird was insignificant.

This 'cuteness' extends to the levels, which range from a beautiful, idyllic forest, to a bustling cityscape. In each instance the puzzle area itself is floating above the environment, making the game seem even more surreal - watching traffic rush beneath you as you twist around like some kind of contortionist is a very strange feeling. The music, which changes depending on the type of level you are playing, is suitably quirky, and adds to the surrealism. It's on the whole a very positive experience, even to watch, and it's definitely a good thing that the developers have thrown caution to the wind and created what is essentially a very childish and innocent game.

However, all innocence begins to evaporate when you get onto some of the later levels. The difficulty ramps right up, and suddenly a peaceful, not-too-difficult game becomes infuriatingly hard. Whilst the early levels in the game only require you to tilt the puzzle area up and down, later levels require you to hold the Wii remote on it's side, and use all 360 degrees of space to get to the exit - no mean feat. It's genuinely challenging, not to mention somewhat uncomfortable at times, but it never gets to the stage where you want to give up. Despite the brain-skewering frustration of not being able to quite reach the exit, the game never makes you want to chuck your Wii remote away and give up.

As well as the main game, Kororinpa features a 2-player mode, which we had a brief hands-on with. It's essentially similar to the main game, with each player battling to collect all the gems and reach the exit first. Visually, it does suffer slightly in split-screen - it's certainly far more difficult to see, which does present a minor problem. However, the frame rate remains fairly solid throughout, and it is good fun - certainly not as redundant as some of the other multiplayer modes on games we've seen on Wii thus far.

Kororinpa does add something new to the burgeoning Wii puzzle genre, and it's genuinely good fun to play. Those with little patience will find that they'll have to learn some if they want to progress - this game certainly does not reward rushing. We'll be bringing you more coverage of Kororinpa very soon indeed, so stay tuned - it's safe to say it's shaping up very nicely indeed.

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