Jenga: World Tour Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | Wii
Jenga box art
System: Wii, DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Atomic Planet Entertainment 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Atari 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Dec.7, 2007 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Not All It's Stacked Up to Be!

by Jonathan Marx

Jenga World Tour is Atari's take on the classic block building puzzle game from Hasbro. The idea of bringing such a game to the Wii is a novel idea due to the motion controls. Unfortunately, the level design and poor use of the Wii remote make this game far less fun than the original board game itself. The only real advantage that Jenga World Tour has over the classic block game is that you don't have to rebuild the tower when you're ready to play again. Even this advantage is negated by the poor gameplay; it's so frustrating and unrewarding that most people simply aren't going to want to play again.

Jenga: World Tour screenshot

This is the kind of third party game that I consider to be a Wii killer. Nintendo needs to have some kind of quality control because this game exposes the weaknesses of their famed controller. When you first pick up the game, you'll swear it's broken as you won't last longer than a minute and a half. Fortunately, with a bit of perseverance you will best the learning curve and get pretty good. Regrettably, when you do become savvier, it's not because the controls were too precise for a novice. On the contrary, you have gotten better because the controls are so imprecise that you've had to find a work around. This becomes glaringly obvious while pulling back or down on the Wii remote. The two actions are the worst captured movements in the game. The blocks simply won't move in a realistic way and will cause you to become very frustrated indeed. Often it seems as if the blocks are attracted to portions of the environment. It's as if they are magnetized and seek out their polar opposite around the fringes of the setting. You just can't move the block the way you want it to. Not being in complete control is an insurmountable detriment to the overall quality of the game.

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Basic controls are simple. You'll grab the blocks by pointing at them with the Wii remote and select them with the A button. In order to get the best angle of approach, you'll have to use the analog stick on the Nunchuk to change the camera's positioning and level of zoom. This is all very easy and user-friendly; however, trying to successfully pull the blocks out is very difficult. This is because the blocks will inevitably be pulled the wrong way causing the tower to topple due to computer error. If you want to be successful in Jenga World Tour, you'll have to master the advanced techniques of "pinning," "tapping," and expletive spewing.

Jenga: World Tour screenshot

"Pinning" allows the player to add some stability to the structure by holding the immediate blocks surrounding the target block with two sets of thumb tacks. I don't remember tacks being included in the board game so I can only assume the developers realized the controls stunk and afforded the gamer a useful tool to handicap the difficulty. In order to pin the blocks, you'll have to first select the target block and then hold the C button on the Nunchuk while selecting two surrounding blocks with the analog stick. Pinning is absolutely essential when trying to coax the stubborn blocks free. "Tapping" is also incredibly useful. By tapping the B button on the Wii remote, you will be able to test the ease at which blocks can be taken out, repair unstable portions of the tower by realigning the pieces a bit, and even remove several center pieces without having to resort to the dreadful grabbing controls. I typically tap my way from piece to piece and tower to tower, using the grabbing and pinning only when absolutely necessary. Learn to master the tap soon, and use it well. Finally, spewing expletives is not something you'll have to worry about as it will come naturally to you. This is especially true when you have built your tower up to level 28 and one of the many errant miscommunications between the software and the Wii remote causes the whole thing to fall.

Other than the trying controls, the computer A.I. will drive you crazy. Typically it will take you 10 to 15 minutes to move 18 blocks or so before achieving victory. The computer will move nearly the same amount of blocks in a little over two minutes. This is very disconcerting to the player as you will move about the tower gently cajoling the blocks free while the A.I. will remove the blocks at superhuman speed like a robot on an assembly line. Talk about disheartening! The only thing good about this is it will steel you for the more difficult rounds to come, and spur you on to beat the silly A.I. avatars. The gameplay won't motivate you, but the unforgiving and unfair computer might.

Jenga: World Tour screenshot

Screenshots / Images
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