Niki: Rock & Ball Review
Niki: Rock & Ball box art
System: Wii (WiiWare) Review Rating Legend
Dev: BPlus 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: BPlus 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Jan. 26, 2009 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

The WiiWare service has been putting out a few interesting titles lately. It's allowed players with smaller budgets to obtain new games for their Nintendo Wii, and it has even managed to reduce the amount of "shovelware" being thrown into a disc and sold for at least $20. We have to be thankful for it, that's for sure!

Niki: Rock & Ball screenshot

Since WiiWare games are cheaper than retail titles, the level of expectation for these games is not as high as it would be for the latter ones. However, that doesn't mean we'll be able to look past the flaws and annoyances we will often encounter in titles such as this one, Niki: Rock & Ball.

To be fair, Niki: Rock & Ball is an old-school-style, arcade game with an interesting concept some of you may find enticing. You will be in control of a bouncy ball named Niki. Each stage will have a certain amount of enemies and six shiny ZeLeLi pearls of different colors. The goal is to get rid of the enemies by squashing them or bouncing against them, as well as picking up each and every one of the pearls.

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You'll be repeating this task level after level, but you'll also encounter different kinds of enemies that require special power-ups before you can wipe them out. For example, a special amulet will allow Niki to turn into stone as you press and hold the B button, which is necessary in order to kill spiky enemies. Another power-up will transform Niki into an unstoppable fireball, which is very effective against some enemies too, but it's also out of control!

As you know, bouncy balls have never been easy to handle. They go back and forth, they bounce, ricochet from wall to wall, and even reach unbelievable heights. The game mimics these physics quite well, although it's not exactly perfect. Because of its bouncy nature, controlling the ball is not an easy task. More than half of the time, the game will drive you crazy with inconsistent controls, unexpected rebounds, and so forth. There are two control styles to choose from, but even when using the retro-style controls, you'll run into issues that do nothing but feed your frustration.

Niki: Rock & Ball screenshot

Even still, the retro-style controls are the better choice, as they're more precise. You'll simply hold the Wii Remote horizontally and direct Niki with the D-Pad, while making it bounce with the 2 button. The other control style requires you to hold the Wii-mote vertically and guide the little dude by tilting the controller to one side or the other. You can make Niki jump by pressing the A button, or by giving the controller a quick shake.

Two things (other than the questionable controls) make this game exasperating at times. First of all, the game is divided into four different worlds, each of them offering ten different stages. When you lose your five lives, the game will send you to the beginning of the world you were at, forcing you to repeat all the previous stages within that level. This makes the gameplay that much more repetitive; needless to say, it will be irritating when you had just finally beat a difficult stage and were ready for the challenges ahead.

Niki: Rock & Ball screenshot

Screenshots / Images
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