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Rock N' Roll Climber - WiiWare Review

Game Info
Rock N' Roll Climber

WiiWare | Nintendo | 1 Player | Out Now | 800 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote and Nunchuk; Balance Board compatible
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4th April 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

Leave it up to Nintendo to take an activity like rock climbing and develop an entire game out of it. Who would've thought that a concept like this would actually see the light of day? Beyond the fact that the game is both unique and innovative, what ultimately makes Rock N' Roll Climber worth a look is its immersive gameplay, thanks to the Wii Balance Board.

    When you first boot up the game, you'll find a helpful Tutorial mode, the main Challenge mode, Free Climb and a limited options mode. The game is very straight-forward in nature: use one of two control schemes to scale a series of indoor and outdoor rock climbing walls. When players reach the top of an outdoor wall, their on-screen character will play a guitar (or pretend to; see: "air guitar") accompanied by some relevant audio, depending on the chosen music genre. There's a decent mix of different types of music, but there's also 6 different locales, 6 main courses and a series of additional, unlockable courses. 

    The game's graphics are decent, but sometimes you'll find yourself unattracted to the somewhat rough visuals and the game's lack of music. Although there are a few decent music tracks in the menus, players will only hear some sound effects in the distance while playing, and this may very well bore some players. It would've been better if there was actual music (depending on the genre you chose) that would last for the entire climb, instead of just a short riff at the end. 

Thankfully, the gameplay does much to make up for the disinteresting visuals. The main control system has players using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk to control one arm and leg each, attempting to replicate a rock-climbing experience. The controls work fairly well but they're tough to get used to (particularly the act of pulling yourself up) and really, these should only be used by those who don't have access to a Wii Balance Board.

    Balance Board support really serves as saving grace for an otherwise bland game. It adds an unmatched sense of realism that completely trumps the standard control scheme, and really, this should be the main reason why you might give the game a go. While the Balance Board is used to control actual movement, the Wii Remote and Nunchuk are used for reaching and grabbing onto rocks. All the motions involved in the actual climbing (even pulling yourself up) are really well done. Although most won't appreciate it at first due to its challenging nature, it's very rewarding for those who stick with it and it also serves as a great workout!

    There are some things within Rock N' Roll Climber that help the gameplay from being subject to too much repetition. For example, some courses feature some environmental effects to help make the atmosphere a bit more eye-pleasing, such as when the game introduces you to the waterfall stages. Also, not long into the game, the difficulty will increase, and players will have to scale walls with more difficult time restraints. It's at this point that the game introduces a series of energy drinks littered sparingly on some of the courses which will add some more time to your meter. 

The game has a decent level of replay value to speak of as well. The game features two unlockable characters, and a whole slew of unlockable courses. Extended replay value comes from beating your best times, and with the Balance Board, this can be very gratifying. What's shocking, though, is the fact that there isn't a separate menu designated for Rankings. This would have been great, especially since it would pick up on Wii Fit's appeal, namely that of comparing scores with family and close friends. Although best times are recorded for each course, it's a shame this was overlooked.

    At first glance, the game looks like a dull endeavour, but if you give it time, you'll begin to see how intuitive it is. Those who stick with it will find that Balance Board support was used brilliantly in Rock N' Roll Climber's development. Once your friends see you playing the game and having a good time with the device, they'll likely want to try it for themselves. It's probably best that you sit this one out if you don't have access to a Balance Board. But for those that do, you'll be spending 800 points on one of the better uses of this innovative peripheral.

23/30 - Good

Gameplay 8/10 - Normal controls are unique, Balance Board controls take time but are rewarding, new elements introduced gradually
Presentation 6/10 - Visuals not very strong, environmental effects used to add some variety, lack of music during gameplay
Enjoyment 4/5 - Challenging at first but you can become a master after a while, gratifying to go back and beat fastest times
Extra Content 5/5 - Good number of courses, unlockable content, best times recorded, only one profile, Balance Board support
Equivalent to a score of 77% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Rock N' Roll Climber
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