I've found that - growing older - you realise just how little you know about the world and begin to recognise how dumb everything you do looks to those around you. Everyone's the same, and I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I'm also smart enough to know of a little thing called Newton's Law of Motion, that every action has a reaction. My theory about how this relates to games is a simple one: people are inherently stupid and we make puzzles for ourselves to provide us a brief window of satisfaction of out-smarting, out-thinking or overcoming a specific set of rules. Puzzle games are our reaction to a universe too terrifyingly complicated and bafflingly large to possibly understand.
Ghost Mania is a game that understands that human beings are not made the same and that our intelligence, when it comes to spatial puzzles, can present itself in many ways. A simple Puyo Pop or Puzzle Fighter style game - whereby players must create collections of adjacent coloured blocks and combine them with a flashing block of the same colour to remove them from play - Ghost Mania provides three basic modes to consume its set of enjoyable logic systems, one of which will be perfectly suited to your conundrum completing capabilities no matter how your mind works. A normal game of Ghost Mania sees additional blocks gradually rise from the bottom of the screen which must be destroyed to add to a score, and going beyond a set threshold finishes the current level. Here the player only has a limited time to make a choice as to where to place the next set of blocks before it is automatically placed on the field, meaning that swift swaps, quick decisions and rapid positioning is called upon to progress.
Mode two is Puzzle, a far more laid back affair with a set number of squares to be taken out and a limited amount of moves at your disposal. Though the pressure is off due to a lack of a time limit, success is still rewarding due to the complexity of the game rules enforced. You'll come to rely on your ability to think ahead, like a match of chess, analysing how each piece you place will affect the level as a whole.
Both Standard and Puzzle mode contain five sets of levels based around a graphical theme, such as ancient Egypt or a haunted mansion, though these changes are purely for visual effect. Taking their cues from PopCap in both graphical and audio design, it's exaggerated and cartoonish throughout its presentation, basic fare that allows for the Wii to concentrate on restarting an area quickly after a fail rather than putting you on hold in an intermittent loading screen. This low demand on resources combined with the simple control scheme of holding the Wii Remote horizontally to play means that navigation to what you want to access is effortless, perfect for quick palette cleansing sessions between meatier games. Unless of course Ghost Mania's Endless and Multiplayer modes get their claws into you...
In terms of a core experience, this is great stuff and however you choose to take on the game, it's immensely satisfying to bring order to a chaotic landscape of quadrilaterals. Where the game does disappoint however is in the lack of frills. Leaderboards for the modes are local only and there's no online multiplayer, so the skills you accrue can only be shown off to friends if you're both on the same couch. There's a story of sorts trying to emerge here, but it's half-baked and only executed through lifeless, speech-free cut scenes, all of which could easily have been cut or evolved to provide a better end-user experience. Finally, for as solid as the main game is, it could benefit from a few more ideas being thrown into the mix to keep things fresh, as the latter Puzzle Bobbles - for example - did to great effect.
Tightly designed controls, levels and rule sets keep the objectives obvious, enacting upon them simple and succeeding in them fair but challenging.
Do the job but not much else, meaning play is clear, but lacks visual spark.
Again, nothing to write home (or, indeed, extensively on a games website) about.
You'll more than likely find yourself dipping in frequently for a quick game but more variety would have been nice.
Ghost Mania is a strong product and a solid addition to your WiiWare library, especially if you're running a little thin on the ground when it comes to puzzlers. The developers could no doubt have done more with the quantity of content, but there's no denying that the content that is here is quality.