Version tested: Wii
Plättchen Twist 'n' Paint
- Developer: Bplus
- Wii Points: 1500
- In Real Money: GBP 10.50 / EUR 15.00
For about half an hour, this Austrian "puzzle shooter" had me convinced my remote was broken. Then I spent half an hour wondering if the game was broken. Finally, after finding an interview with the developer online, I discovered that everything was actually as it should be. I'd just been playing with the nunchuk plugged in, which completely changes the controls. It would have been nice if the game itself had been able to communicate this rather vital bit of info, but simplicity certainly isn't Plättchen's strong suit.
The aim of the gameplay - a goal which remains rather fuzzy even after completing the tutorial, reading everything I could find online and playing the game for several hours - is to use a colour wheel called the ZeLeLi to "twist" rotating tiles by painting them. Join up four of the same colour and they vanish, with more dropping in from above. Or the sides. Or the bottom.
The gravity switches with each batch you destroy, pulling in new tiles from set patterns located in all directions. Each "twist" uses up some of your energy, and the only way to get more energy is to set off chain reactions. The aim of the game, in this mode at least, is to fill your energy bar to the top. At least I'm pretty sure that's the case. Once again, the game neglects to make this very clear.
Confusing matters even further, you're also controlling a floating avatar which hovers in front of the tiles, along with your crosshairs. This avatar is vulnerable to attack from floating hazards which drift across the playfield on some levels, forcing you to shoot them.
And this is just the main game mode. There are also 100 levels of Copycat, where you repeat Picross-style patterns on the grid, and 100 Mission levels where you, well, do missions. Oh, and multiplayer for up to eight people simultaneously, with a variety of gameplay modifiers that can be activated from the main menu. Of course, none of these are explained either. The only tutorial option covers ten basic steps, and only about a third of what the game contains.
But that's not all. Rotating the colour wheel - the thing you need to constantly do in order to play the game - means twisting the remote. Not just a gentle tip to one side, but pretty much turning it upside down in your hand. If you have the nunchuk attached - as I did - then you rotate that instead, which explains why I wasn't having much luck diligently following the instructions to twist the remote. You can also use the Wii Zapper.
Whichever option you pick you'll find yourself holding your hands at unnatural angles, trying to keep them still for fear of selecting the wrong colour. Move your hand up or down too much, and the colour wheel stops working altogether. Once you get past the first few levels, the need to juggle multiple colours at once becomes a pain (literally) rather than a challenge.
Plättchen is a game buried under an avalanche of ideas, few of which are adequately developed or incorporated into a coherent play experience. Somewhere in there is an interesting puzzle game, but it's obscured by a deluge of vaguely explained and often conflicting gameplay concepts. And by the regrettable decision to make the game's main control feature rely on the most uncomfortable use of motion sensing I've encountered so far.
There are games that are complex and games that are just complicated. This is one of the latter. There will be those who penetrate Plättchen's opaque exterior and return with tales of gaming joy. Given that this is the second most expensive game on WiiWare, it's a journey most players will find unrewarding.
- Developer: Gameloft
- Wii Points: 800
- In Real Money: GBP 6 / EUR 8
Following the release of the surprisingly agreeable Block Breaker Deluxe, another of Gameloft's mobile phone games gets WiiWared up. As the title so carelessly reveals, it's a pool game - although the absence of in-game clocks makes it tricky to verify the "midnight" part of the equation.
What you do get is a series of pool halls, ranging from ramshackle redneck bars to swanky Vegas pads, and a selection of characters to represent you in the green baize arena. Much like Block Breaker Deluxe, the presentation is dripping with cheese - not least because the characters are so obviously traced over celebrity photos. Mike is a dead ringer for P Diddy, Elisa is Lucy Liu while Travis is either Sawyer from Lost or Owen Wilson. Jury's still out.
In game terms you can choose from US 8-Ball and 9-Ball, or the familiar red and yellow of UK 8-Ball, and there's also a bunch of trick shot challenges. Control is nice and simple - the d-pad aims, the 1 button allows you to set spin and angle, while holding down the B trigger lets you take your shot with a forward thrust of the remote. It's only this bit that lets the game down, with a rather sluggish feel to the shot-taking mechanism.
As always with Gameloft's efforts, the mostly solid gameplay is simply undersold by some rough edges that betray the title's Java and/or Flash roots. It's certainly not the best pool game you'll ever play, but for the price it should prove more than enough for most people's needs.
- Developer: HudsonSoft
- Wii Points: 1000
- In Real Money: GBP 7.00 / EUR 10.00
It's hard to get excited about the arrival of Bomberman on any platform or download service, such is his ubiquity, but there's a comforting familiarity about it all the same. A console without Bomberman feels somehow bereft.
Of course, the Wii already has Bomberman on the Virtual Console, but this is a modern edition for those who are drawn to the series for more than just nostalgia. Much like the version available on XBLA, Bomberman Blast offers a impressive spread of gameplay modes and options - all of which can be mixed and matched to your liking.
In Air Raid you can't set bombs, but they drop continually from the sky. Dodging the splash damage from each wave becomes a frantic scramble. Bomb Bowling has arrows on the map showing where kicked bombs will go; hoof an explosive round the corner, and take out your opponents. UFO Mania, on the other hand, lets you get abducted and lob bombs from a spaceship.
There are also options to play with no hard blocks or no soft blocks, while optional hazards include volcanic steam, grasping zombie hands and potholes. Or you can stick with the basics, and just play the Bomberman you know and love. There's also multiplayer for up to eight players, both local and WiFi, and you can even form teams to take online. Getting connected proved a bit of a chore, but once I had a full lobby the following games were smooth and lag-free.
It's Bomberman, basically, with as many bells and whistles as you want - or don't want, depending on your tastes. It's perhaps a tad pricey at 1000 Points; 800 would have made for a much more irresistible impulse purchase. All the same, it's hard to quibble over such a dependable game.