Kororinpa: Marble Mania Review
Kororinpa: Marble Mania box art
System: Wii Review Rating Legend
Dev: Hudson 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Konami & Hudson 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: March 20, 2007 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-2 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
A "wrist-twisting" adventure

by Maria Montoro

Attention, please: all passengers that suffer from hyperactivity might not enjoy the ride! A dose of patience is required in order to play it successfully and enjoy it to the max. When I called the game store to ask about Kororinpa, they didn't even know what it was. I guess the game is most commonly known here as Marble Mania, since it's much easier to pronounce. However, when you play this game you can see that it truly has a Japanese feel in both the level design and the "unlockables" that it offers. This game is quite entertaining and well made, plus it fits Nintendo's new machine perfectly.

Kororinpa: Marble Mania screenshot

Following the formula of the old-school Marble Madness, you'll have to lead a marble from the beginning all the way to the goal, passing through progressively more complicated 3D labyrinths formed by ramps, slides, and all sorts of moving platforms. Each stage is designed differently; you'll encounter traps along the way that you'll have to avoid carefully while you pick up all of the red jewels placed on the stage. If you miss any of the jewels, you'll have to find a way to go back and catch them, as the goal marker won't work until you have them all. What is interesting is that you actually move the scenario itself and not the marble; by tilting the scenario in different ways (moving the Wii-mote), you'll make the marble advance and get through the traps successfully. It's very important that you remain focused and don't lose your patience. If you're not smooth enough in those key moments, the ball will plunge into the void and you'll have to start from the beginning. The time counter won't stop when this happens and you will be able to keep the red crystals you had gathered, but you are less likely to acquire a high score and win a trophy cup. The better and the faster you clear the stage, the more chances you'll have to unlock new marbles, background music, or even new stages.

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Another Wii game, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, offers very similar gameplay. However, I think Kororinpa handles a little better and the scenarios are more varied. The ball in Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz is larger and contains a screaming monkey inside; it's just not as relaxing. Since Midway developed Marble Madness for the arcade in 1985 (a trackball was used instead of the standard joystick), this formula has been ported to multiple gaming systems and computers. The Wii, with its motion-sensing controller, is capable of delivering the best Marble Madness experience since the arcade. The controls in Kororinpa: Marble Mania couldn't be better or simpler. The physics of the motion are carefully respected: twist the Wii-mote and the scenario will move accordingly. That's all there is to it. You will only use the buttons to move through the menu interface, but never to play the game.

Kororinpa: Marble Mania screenshot

This game is not very long or super-challenging, but it's nice and it does get increasingly harder with obstacles that will slow you down like conveyor belts, magnet paths, and cannons that send you flying in the air towards the next surface you need to reach. The mirror mode will eventually be available, allowing you to replay each stage in reverse, which certainly adds extra difficulty as the levels where designed to be played the other way around. Green crystals will be strategically placed in each stage. If you are able to grab them (it's optional), something special might happen, like unlocking a secret level. However, they're not as easy to get and you could easily fall off the stage.

Kororinpa: Marble Madness has interesting and eye-catching visuals. As I said before, the Japanese influence and labor is obvious, and this is great in games like this. Colorful scenarios with themes of all sorts flood our TV screen, successfully involving us into the gameplay and giving us more reasons to continue playing. From the jungle all the way to the city and passing through the delicious-looking candy world, you'll be able to enjoy nicely-designed environments that enhance the gameplay. When I played through the candy world stages, I suddenly felt a need to eat a piece of chocolate or something else that would calm down my sweet tooth. If they wanted to make a bit more profit out of this game, they should have advertised Hershey's chocolate! (Not that I enjoy in-game advertising, I'm just thinking with a business mind here…) Anyway, there were plenty of details that made that level especially interesting for me, from the orange slices to donuts, Swiss rolls, and shortbread cookies! That's basically how all the levels are: items related to the main theme strategically form the mazes that you will go through. It's true that the game could have been a bit more appealing visually by adding more details to the different stages and maybe having a wider variety of themes but, at the same time, this game is meant to look simple; otherwise, it would be overwhelming and one wouldn't even know where to go next. Progressive scan support and widescreen would have nice but I don't find it imperative in a game like this. It still looked great on my large wide-screen. Just adjust the image to the size of your display and it won't even look stretched.

Kororinpa: Marble Mania screenshot

If you use this game as a tool for distraction and relaxation like many people will, you'll be happy to know that the game offers a decent amount of background music of different influences from Asian to more "poppy" melodies, salsa rhythms, and even a tango-inspired song. It's nice to set the game so it will play the songs randomly so you don't get tired of listening to the same music. You will unlock more songs as you advance through the levels, only two will be available at the beginning. Unlike other games, this one is quite generous and will allow you to unlock music and other items relatively easily.

Screenshots / Images
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