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Mole Mania (Game Boy) Review

Review for Mole Mania on Game Boy - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Despite a tendency to rely on big name franchises to reel in the big bucks from time to time, Nintendo has been known to explore other new properties, usually through the less expensive distribution methods of the time. Recently it has been with games like Pullblox, Hana Samurai, and Dillon's Rolling Western on the 3DS eShop, and it wouldn't be out of the way to assume that the Wii U equivalent download store will have some experimental titles from Nintendo also. Back in yonder days of green and black handheld screens, the House of Mario tried the same on the Game Boy and a certain standout game led the pack, if only in reputation and not sales. Mole Mania was overseen by none other than Shigeru Miyamoto himself, but now this highly unique puzzle game has been put on the 3DS eShop, has age weathered this gem or does it still shine?

Mole Mania's storyline is basic but provides sufficient background and motivation. As the father mole to a small family, Muddy Mole has to dig into action when his wife and kids get mole-knapped by an irate farmer called Jimbe, working his way through eight worlds of boulder-pushing and tunnel-digging. Small cut-scenes that go light on text but heavy on expression and character animation separate each level, and the signpost text that separates important areas and describes new abilities when use of them is required help to convey a lively personality for the game. The addictive happy music and sound effects on show only add to the personality of the game.

The game's presentation takes several cues from the Game Boy The Legend of Zelda titles, mainly in how the levels are laid out in grids and the quick vertical or horizontal transition between each. Another is in how the gameplay works, in that in a four-way square-by-square movement grid players are faced with the task of getting a black ball to a gate placed at the end of an obstacle course in order to open up the next screen. These courses start off simple, gently letting you get to grips with the button layout and allowing for experimentation with the surprisingly versatile control scheme.

Screenshot for Mole Mania on Game Boy - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Things soon get challenging though, when wandering enemies pop up, brain-bending turns become commonplace, and even the slightest wrong movement means restarting the course. Thankfully doing so is simple; either the pause menu's restart function or just returning to a previous screen will reset the puzzle ready for another try. The game's immediate charm will help to alleviate any frustration with a wrong movement, and the addictive satisfaction of solving later difficult puzzles is certainly no hindrance either.

Mole Mania's range of gameplay is strictly limited to puzzle grids, but with a startling amount of freedom in what the character can do in regards to grabbing, pushing and digging, made even more impressive by the D-pad and two button limitation, there is a surprising amount of variation in the game. Eight worlds may not sound like a lot, and there aren't any multiplayer features to speak of, but the fiendish puzzles in later worlds and the secret areas hidden in each one ensure that Mole Mania more than justifies the bargain £2.69 entry fee. As with Donkey Kong '94, though, it is just a shame that the colour brought about by the Super Game Boy SNES add-on device was not included in this download edition.

Screenshot for Mole Mania on Game Boy - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Clever and gratifying puzzles and flexible-but-solid controls encompass Mole Mania's core, with a vast amount of layout variation in later courses.

Graphics

Solid Game Boy sprites with an overlay of charming character animation, an impressive frame rate, and witty text speech.

Sound

Each of the eight themed worlds contains their own memorable theme; these coupled with the pleasant chiptune sound effects makes for a thankfully less frustrating course restart when the need arises.

Value

Not one for the multiplayer enthusiasts, Mole Mania will more than justify the minimal cost for everyone else, however, with a vast amount to see and discover with a healthy dose of challenge and reward.

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

About this score
Rated 9 out of 10

A submerged classic dug up from the archives of gaming history and given a new chance to shine, 3DS owners with a desire for a charming, challenging puzzler should not overlook Mole Mania, regardless of its colourless origins. Shigeru Miyamoto's genius sparkles once more, and this time should definitely not be overlooked, especially at such a low price on the Nintendo 3DS eShop Virtual Console service.

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27.10.2012

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Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (1 Votes)

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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

One of my all-time favourite GB games and another that was always locked firmly in my Super Game Boy years ago Smilie

Hopefully more people will be snapping up this bargain now! Cheers for the review, Shane Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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