Marbles! Balance Challenge (Wii) Review

Review for Marbles! Balance Challenge on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

"Get rolling," is the command from the little ant character Hudson has as the front-man for Marbles! Balance Challenge -- and roll you will. This game keeps the addictive gameplay of the original but gives so much more to do that it should keep on rolling for quite some time. There are more levels, more differently-themed worlds, more modes, more collectibles, support for more players, more control options, more challenge, and new on-line features have been thrown in for good measure. It really is a case of 'more, more, more!' The themed worlds of the original are there -- but there are some new ones, too. The graphics have been spruced up and feature all new soundtracks that by and large are at least as good as in the original. Hudson clearly listened to feedback for this Kororinpa sequel.

In Marbles! Balance Challenge, the player is presented initially with three options in the main story mode -- easy , normal and Balance Board. For veterans of the original it is probably best to go for normal mode -- which on its own would have the same number of levels as the original game -- while beginners will probably be better going for easy (there is also a tutorial mode for beginners). Selecting Balance Board gives the player access to 100 specially designed Balance Board levels that are exclusive to the European PAL release. Completing the normal mode will unlock a hard mode that has even more levels -- they are variations on normal mode, but are changed sufficiently to play like new levels.

In the normal mode there is a green gem to find in each level, similar to the original game, but this time there are also stump temple pieces to find. There are a few new ideas added in the way of new obstacles that keep the game fresh for those who completed the original too. In hard mode the green gem is gone but in its place there is the new task of finding the little ant character that is placed in far more devious positions than the normal mode's green gem -- in some cases invisible platforms must be used to reach and rescue him.

Screenshot for Marbles! Balance Challenge on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Outside of the Balance Board mode, control-wise there are two options for holding the Wii Remote either pointing at the screen or holding it horizontally, which may suit some people better. It is in the area of control that those who played the original will notice a difference. The ball and marbles available at the start move more slowly and are more forgiving, which might frustrate experts, but unlocking the expert balls that are faster and more responsive does not take long, and there is even a Mii-themed figure ball, the attributes of which can be edited to the player's preference.

The first Kororinpa extended gameplay somewhat by having trophy times to go for within each level, with bronze, silver and gold times to go for. This feature is retained in Marbles! Balance Challenge, but there are now Platinum times to go for as well, which appear to be much tougher to attain this time around.

Multiplayer is also improved with support for up to four players in split-screen with selectable collisions between players. Multiplayer is one option within Free Mode that allows for play on any unlocked levels, but there are also some other options to enjoy. Time Trial is a straight race with no gems to pick up (again with trophy times) and there is also Survival that challenges players to complete all ten levels in a selected world with no loss of life. Again, there are trophy times to go for here, plus there is even an "All Survive" portion that challenges the gamer to clear all levels in all worlds with no lives lost -- one for the committed gamer only -- and once more there are trophy times to go for here.

Screenshot for Marbles! Balance Challenge on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Online is supported this time around, although is some ways it is a bit limited. There is no online Versus Mode sadly, with there instead being ten unique challenges, with best times uploaded to European and World league tables. However, online is used in one other quite significant way. Marbles! Balance Challenge puts the replay value through the roof by providing a level editor. The aforementioned stump temple pieces unlock the different pieces and toolsets that can be used in the editor. It is quite well thought out and there are few limitations to what can be done other than the actual physical size of the puzzle. However, there is an on-screen meter showing how much resource is being used at all times. These levels can be shared online through the Friend Code system and connecting online will also give access to some levels actually designed by Hudson Soft. This really proves to be the icing on the cake for this title.

There are a few niggles, however, albeit minor ones. In the original game when the ball fell off the level it was returned to the start again or at least the last checkpoint from the action could be instantly continued. This time there is a 3-2-1 countdown each time, which can become a bit annoying when constantly falling off during trickier stages. Given the higher difficulty this will ineed be happening quite a bit!

Screenshot for Marbles! Balance Challenge on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Also, in the multiplayer game, when a race finishes there is only the shortcut option to race again on the same level. In the original moving straight on to the next level was possible, yet this time there is a need to go back out and select the level and player balls again, which slows the pace down a tad. Again, a minor niggle but little things like this can build up and it's a shame given these wrinkles weren't in the original game.

Overall, though, Marbles! Balance Challenge makes the original look like a demo -- the great physics are retained, albeit with more handholding from the off, but this time the player is given loads of content to play with and the level editor extends this to the infinite. Considering all of this, with the 100 Balance Board levels thrown in on top, there is a great full featured game that will give players dozens of hours of playtime. For some reason this seemed to get an even lower-key release than the original, but the effort spent finding it will be well rewarded.

Screenshot for Marbles! Balance Challenge on Wii- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

The shortcomings of the original Kororinpa are definitely put right here in Marbles! Balance Challenge. Veterans of the original might be a bit annoyed by the pared down physics available at the start, and the odd little annoying niggle in the presentation, but the rest more than makes up for it. Balance Challenge is an excellent game that has been criminally ignored by the gaming press., and comes highly recommended. Be sure to scour retail to find a copy of this elusive title.

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Also known as

Marble Saga: Kororinpa









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

I hope Nintendo will quickly release HD updates of good games like this one. Tonight I played through the demo of Hydroventure. I never got it on Wii because I didn't think it was worth the money... But I'd totally buy it for €5 if Nintendo updated the graphics and put it on the eShop.

I could probably name 15 WiiWare titles that would sell well in HD and a discounted price. And then 20 disc-based titles that should get the HD eShop treatment.

I never jumped into this sequel, but I certainly would love to see it on Wii U. I can image the GamePad working very well for it!

As for Hydroventure/Fluidity, there's a 3DS eShop version coming soon, so I wouldn't be surprised to see it on Wii U eShop as well at some point. In the meantime, though, definitely check out Puddle on Wii U - it's amazing! Not just water either, it uses all sorts of liquids that react with the surroundings. Very impressive...and on discount at the moment.

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

Yeah I saw on Miiverse that you played it. I'm still not sure about that game. It's getting reviews around the 7.5 for the PC/PS3/360 versions. Not that it's bad... but it's not like I'm bored at the moment.

And I'd rather support Nintendo eShop games than 3rd parties. I know, I'm terrible. But I really loved the Hydroventure demo and I feel Nintendo needs the encouragement to release more eShop games. I'll hold out for Hydroventure/Fluidity on Wii U. Smilie

The Wii U version is like a Director's Cut, isn't it?

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

Hm not sure, I haven't seen (m)any reviews yet...

Some of the improvements mentioned back in October:

- full HD/60FPS
- Supports motion controls for moving the puddle
- off-tv play confirmed
- tips are displayed on the loading screen
- every level has been reworked from the previous releases
- offers up a more even challenge when tackling the gold medal runs
- online leaderboards
- other control options are ZL-ZR Buttons, or the left stick

(from NeoGAF)

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

Thanks, I'll think about it.

Smilie I'm not selling it to you Smilie I'll do that in my eventual review Smilie

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

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