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Rooms: The Main Building - Wii Review

Game Info
Rooms: The Main Building

Wii | Hudson | 1-2 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (pointer)
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21st May 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

Truth be told, I'm not a big fan of sliding puzzles. In my lifetime, there have been a few that I enjoyed playing, but most have just frustrated me to no end and made me feel stupid. So when I heard that Rooms: The Main Building was based on the same concept, I didn't want to hold my breath, just in case it turned out to be like one of my other not-so-great experiences. Well, I'm pleased to say that this is one Wii game that puzzle fans will not want to miss. It takes a familiar concept and develops it into a full-fledged game that's quite satisfying.

    The game's storyline puts you into the shoes of Mr. X who receives a letter at his doorstep, shortly after expressing how bored he is. Upon examining it more closely, he mysteriously finds himself outside Rooms Mansion which serves as the setting for the entire game. Mr. Book, the steward of the mansion, serves as your guide and advice guru as you try to make sense of this magical world. There are multiple locations you can explore as you progress through the Story Mode. There's the Mansion itself which consists of four different sub-floors, and just outside you'll find Rooms Street which features three different sub-levels: Rooms Hotel, a Subway Station, and the Antique Shop. Here you'll try to solve riddles to uncover hidden puzzle pieces that will open up new areas in Rooms Mansion. In order for you to do that, you'll first need to obtain items acquired by completing puzzles.

Each level in Rooms Mission is divided up into a grid of squares, a setup that should be very familiar to those who have played handheld slider puzzles. Your main objective is to guide Mr. X to the golden door located somewhere in the room. But you'll need to take advantage of gimmicks and think logically before you can clear the stage successfully. Each square is plastered with a background image that corresponds to an overall scenery. By highlighting the "Show BG" option on the left-hand side of the screen, you can use these images to guide you as to where the sliding pieces belong. To get even more clues, you can hold the Plus button to isolate only pieces that are in the correct spot. This will also show outlines of where remaining pieces will wind up when the solution has been discovered. When squares are in the right spot, they will emit a brief glittery effect. It's a really clever setup and these features serve as a great substitute for a direct hint system.

    The game's controls are of a point-and-click nature, whereby players utilize the Wii Remote's IR to direct the on-screen character. To slide a square, move your cursor towards the outer edges and choose the arrow that appears when movement is possible. Some of the pieces have golden frames that restrict movement, sometimes forcing you to think outside the box. As if this wasn't enough, you'll also encounter additional gimmicks that serve as a major basis for some of the puzzle solutions. For instance, red telephones act as teleporters between two rooms, and ladders allow you to access rows of squares either below or above you. On occasion, you'll be forced to proceed with more caution thanks to broken teleporters, and one-way doors. But all of the gimmicks are used effectively, and they're what make Rooms so challenging later on.

Furthermore, the further you progress in the game, the more difficult puzzles become, and new gimmicks become introduced. Once you gain access to the Subway Station, for example, you'll be able to use the train to travel to any square in between two stops. The animation uses for this special item is neat at first, but after the fourth time, you'll be wondering how to make it go faster. You'll also deal with water-filled rooms that can be manuvered using fire hydrants that will transport the water to a more convenient area. The variety in the gimmick use is also very welcome since a game like this can grow rather repetitive.

    Although the puzzles in Story Mode don't include a timer, some solutions require some quick thinking on your part. At times, you'll need to ignite dynamite and quickly swap rooms, or teleport away before the explosion gets you killed. Just like many other well-made puzzlers (such as the Professor Layton series), you can expect to get stuck on more than a few puzzles. Thankfully, there is some leeway in some of the puzzles where you don't necessarily have to worry about organizing the pieces perfectly. Each room will award you with a Bronze, Silver or Gold piece of the mansion jigsaw puzzle. So if you simply want to race towards the door and focus on perfection on your second run-through, there's a handful of puzzles that allow you to do just that. As you play, you can also make a concerted effort towards unlocking trophies. And in spite of the sheer frustration that's bound to ensue over being so close to solving some of the more maddening puzzles, it's really gratifying when you do solve a puzzle.

    The entire game has a feel of intrigue and the idea of solving puzzles in each room resembles something out of a fictitous mystery novel. It's great that the game features multiple music tracks, and almost all of the songs in the game are very fitting choices. As you advance the storyline, you'll encounter cutscenes in between the puzzle-solving action, presented in different-shaped frames that you might see in a horizontal comic strip. The main playing field is located in the middle of the screen while the surrounding area consists of wooden textures and gears. On a large television setup, the action can be a bit hard to see (like in Hudson's WiiWare game, Pop 'Em Drop 'Em Same Game). But otherwise, the game uses a nice layout and the presentation values are pretty good.

Alongside the main Story Mode, you also have the ability to create your own puzzles under 'Build' mode. You can store well over 50 custom stages (an impressive feat!) to try to stump your friends and family members. Players choose the grid size and then use items from the palette on the right to construct their ambitious creations. Getting a stage in working order is a lot harder than you might expect, depending on the solution you're going for. And even when you think everything's all good to go, don't be surprised if you notice a hitch or two when someone else gives it a try. If anything, this mode increases your appreciation for the puzzles in the game that much more. You might not be able to share your creations online or download new puzzles like in Marble Saga Kororinpa (which would've been an excellent fit here), but its integration is still very much appreciated. Plus, when you're stumped on a puzzle, you can always head here to relax and get away from things for a while.

    Rooms: The Main Building also includes a two-player Battle Mode where you and a friend race to the gate in the middle of the screen. There's no Stage Select feature so you'll be issued out a random puzzle every time you play, which ultimately gives players motivation to keep coming back. Admittedly, first-time players will have a lot of trouble with these special puzzles, especially since they use gimmicks from stages they likely haven't encountered before. As a result, the second player is forced to play on their own before jumping into this mode; otherwise, they'll be at a huge disadvantage. However, when it's an even playing field, it's a lot of fun trying to challenge your sibling, friend or significant other to reach the end first. Just be careful that you don't start accusing your rival of cheating!

Upon completion of the Story Mode, players will unlock two new modes: 'Time Limit' and 'Challenge'. The former adds a time restriction to all of the puzzles you've encountered in Story Mode, and the latter restricts you even further by only allowing a limited number of moves. As if the game wasn't challenging enough! It would've been nice if there was a greater stat-tracking focus so that players could compare best times via local leaderboards. Otherwise, both of these modes extend the experience further and serve as great additions to the package. 

    Especially in the last year or so, Hudson Soft has put out some quality titles and this is no exception. Rooms: The Main Building features a great number of clever puzzles that are guaranteed to get your brain working, as well as
 a surprising amount of depth that fans of this genre long for
. In addition to the tense Battle Mode, there's also some additional elements that make the game quite replayable, especially for a family. The developers have taken a simple concept and despite it's flaws, it resulted in a pretty neat game. Rooms: The Main Building is truly innovative and contains a surprising amount of challenge and depth to it that fans of this genre long for. One thing's for sure: I'll never look at sliding puzzles the same way again.

25/30 - Very Good

Gameplay 8/10 - Uses slider puzzles as basis and develops something new out of it, new gimmicks added gradually for variety, good controls
Presentation 8/10 - Action can be hard to see on big screens, cohesive mysterious theme, good music to go with the aforementioned theme,
Enjoyment 4/5 - C
lever puzzle solutions that are fun to discover, will frustrate you at times but solving puzzles is a compliment to your intelligence
Extra Content 5/5 - Lots of puzzle solutions, medal system, Story Mode, trophies, level editor, battle mode, two additional modes, budget price

Equivalent to a score of 83% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Rooms: The Main Building
Review | Screenshot gallery Feature | Preview Footage | Interview


Review by KnucklesSonic8

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