Taking a very straightforward premise that should invoke a sense of childhood nostalgia for anyone who recalls playing with multi-shaped blocks in their formative years, the first Roogoo game released last year made stacking and shoving falling meteors of different shapes and colors into the proper holes a curiously gratifying task. The youthful spirit of this candy-coated puzzler seems even better tailored to its new home on the Wii, but some of the additions found in Roogoo Twisted Towers serve as more of a distraction than an improvement to the original formula.
The Roogoo – a race of cartoonish, furry critters – are simply adorable, but their tale is a fairly mediocre one. Once a cheerful realm powered by magic meteors, the planet Roo has fallen under hard times. The power of the mystical airborne projectiles inevitably corrupted members of the Roogoo populace, turning them into malicious Meemoos. Their evil greed quickly spread and caused great harm to the planet. As one of the remaining Roogoo untainted by darkness, you must help Roo return to its former cheerful glory by harnessing and directing the power of the colorful meteors to stop the Meemoos’ unsavory plan. The bare-bones story never really gets far off the ground enough to stay interesting, which is fine because you likely won’t be paying that much attention to begin with. The colorful and chipper visual style is simplistic, but it’s still easily in-line with the first game.
Twisted Towers’ main highlights, and its failings, lie directly within the gameplay itself. As with the original, the fast-paced puzzle action requires quick thinking and quicker reflexes. In each level, “meteors” – essentially blocks in the shape of pink hearts, yellow stars, blue squares, red circles, and green triangles – will fall from the sky towards a series of circular platforms with the same colored shapes cut into them. Your job is to rotate each platform to catch the falling blocks in their proper nook, build them up enough to eventually push them down through lower levels, and amassed the necessary quota of each color at the bottom to proceed. The B button on the Wii Remote and the Z button on the Nunchuk rotate each platform clockwise and counterclockwise respectively, staying true to the feel of the original game’s controls. You can also hard-drop blocks for quicker delivery.
Early levels are painfully slow to progress, offering very little challenge as the game’s concepts are gradually introduced. However, the number of shapes you’ll juggle eventually expands, the speed and frequency they fall increases, and the patterns they appear in mixes up. Other twists, like plugged holes that must be drilled through, hatches that open and close, and Meemoos that stand on platforms to deflect falling blocks add to the challenge. The puzzle level layouts themselves also change from time to time, switching out the straight tower puzzles for staggered platforms perched at odd angles. At its core, this puzzle sorting is simple, addictive, and really enjoyable. Keeping up with the pace of later levels is a handful enough, even when you’re simply focusing on the main puzzle elements. It’s when the game forces you to stretch your attention span and multi-tasking abilities to the limit that some of the design decisions thrown-in to highlight the Wii’s unique control capabilities become questionable.
On top of the main gameplay, you can point the Wii Remote at the screen to move around a net that’s used to collect butterflies that appear at random, catch improperly placed pieces that would otherwise be lost, and even direct a hammer at moving targets to destroy them for extra points. These extra mini-games are more of a distraction than anything else, and it becomes seriously frustrating trying to deal with them as the rest of the action builds in intensity. These separate activities alone aren’t particularly grueling on their own, but being saddled with everything at once proves to be overwhelming when it shouldn’t be. A second player can hop in to control the net and hammer, though you’re stuck dealing with it when playing solo. Even though you can choose to ignore the butterfly collecting and other added nonsense, it’s still distracting at the worst moments.
The game’s newly-added epic boss battles are the main exception to the tacked-on control wonkiness, since they are more seamlessly incorporated into these encounters. Early on, you’ll face a vampire Meemoo who breaks into a swarm of bats that must be caught with your net and a yeti-creature that ices up your view and requires the screen be scraped off, among several other gargantuan adversaries. The only disappointing part of the otherwise cool boss battles is they’re few and far between. What do appear all-too-frequently are incessant skydiving levels that have you controlling a downward falling Roogoo in a circular patter with the thumbstick. These rote airborne encounters mainly stick you with collecting block pieces, dodging mines, and shooting paratrooper Meemoos. They’re slightly fun the first few times; you’ll wish you could skip them every time after.
Twisted Towers does have some decent local multiplayer modes that are worth exploring (that’s right; there’s no online play). Split Screen Race pits two players against one another in a battle race to see who can cram all their shapes into the bottom platform the quickest. Random attacks handed out to players for doing well, letting the competition get nasty if you choose. Party Play lets you engage in multiple group mini-games with up to four players taking up different roles. Also, anyone who owns Roogoo Attack on the DS can synch the two games to unlock extra levels in the Wii version. You probably won’t want to bother picking up both games, but the extra stages are worth unlocking if you know someone with the game.
Most of the main elements in Twisted Towers that were carried over from the original Roogoo are still quite good. The puzzle gameplay is definitely solid, though the extra tacked-on mini-game and control elements hamstring the game’s momentum. Repetition also sets in sooner than it should for a game with over 100 levels. If you don’t have the means to play Roogoo on PC or Xbox LIVE, then Twisted Towers will do in a pinch, but prepare for a huge dose of overstimulation.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.5 Graphics
Cute, colorful, and simple. 3.0 Control
The core controls are fine, but dealing with pointing and shaking stuff around all the while is a mess. 3.6 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Nothing fancy here. 3.7
Tons of levels to explore even though they’re occasionally repetitive.
3.4 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.