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Reviewed: The Incredible Maze
Producer:Digital Leisure
Required System:Wii
Overall Rating:
Author: Michael Ahlf
Date: November 10th, 2008

 

One of the nice things about newer game download services on the current generation of consoles is the ability for companies to once again offer some quirky, innovative (or even just retro) titles that wouldn't survive in a "burned disc/cartridge, sitting on the shelf" ecosystem. Newly getting into the arena is Digital Leisure, whose products we've had the fortune to look at in the past. Their usual fare has been the old, heavily-video arcade games of the Laserdisc era but they're branching out to bring a few more things into the market. The first on their list is The Amazing Maze, which is available over the Wii Shop Channel for a pretty reasonable price of 500 Nintendo Points.

If you're thinking this one looks familiar, you're probably right; the basis for the game is a favorite old kids' toy, the wooden Labyrinth, which has kids tilting the field (with a pair of little wooden knobs) to roll a marble around a track. These things have been around for ages, and the goal is to get faster and faster, moving the marble around and learning the available shortcuts.

The Incredible Maze takes this to a new level, by transferring the feel of the gameplay almost seamlessly while integrating the strengths of software; the ability to present differing puzzles and change up the occasional rule. A few sample screenshots (courtesy of Digital Leisure) below will give you an idea what's possible:

Yes, that's what it looks like - the computerization of the challenge offers several new options. There are larger or smaller boards, sectioned and unsectioned, obstacles and game-changing spots, larger "blank" areas, and even multiple-board play. Instead of "bumping" the board (flipping the spinner fast enough to cause the marble to jump), jumping is managed by hitting the A button, but this has its limitations; the closer to the board's edge, the larger the bump (in the marble's current traveling direction). Obstacles near the board's center can't be bypassed, and trying to jump too close to the edge is equally risky. In the more advanced boards, a good sense of timing and grasp of the "jump" option can be necessary to pass by obstacles; the 7th map above is one such example.

This isn't the only spot where the game gets innovated, however; they were kind enough (or savvy enough) to offer players a pair of input options. In standard mode, The Incredible Maze is controlled by tilting a Wiimote; the angle of tilt will tilt the board, making the marble roll. Instead of "bumping" the board (flipping the spinner fast enough to cause the marble to jump), jumping is managed by hitting the A button, but this has its limitations; the closer to the board's edge, the larger the bump (in the marble's current traveling direction). Obstacles near the board's center can't be bypassed, and trying to jump too close to the edge is equally risky.

The secondary mode offers even more of a challenge. If you've got a Wii Fit balance board, rather than using the controller's tilt sensors, the game can actually tune the board's tilt to the player's standing balance. Yes, that's right... lean forward, the marble moves forward. Lean left or right, it moves in the corresponding direction. Fall off the board trying to slow the marble down... and the game yells at you. I'd provide a youtube video of myself doing this (quite a few times actually) but truth be told, it's embarassing enough just admitting I've done it.

In addition to the basic puzzle mode which unlocks the boards available in sequence, there's also a "time attack" mode for training to get through levels faster and faster, and a "challenge" mode with gems to collect, making players carefully travel every section of the boards. Some players might gravitate towards one or the other, but they do a lot to give the game a challenge beyond the basics, just like the old numbered points on the wooden version did.

So.... 500 Nintendo Points (US currency equivalent, $5), for a solid and innovative take on a classic game that expands it to a whole new wealth of possibilities. I don't see a downside here, and it's certainly worth the risk, especially for parents worrying about their young kids getting "violent" games. Plus, it's something else to do with your Wii Fit board. Pick it up if you have the chance.


Added:  Monday, November 10, 2008
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Score:
Page: 1/2

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