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Spaceball: Revolution - WiiWare Review

Game Info
Spaceball Revolution

WiiWare | Virtual Toys | 1 Player / 2 Players (local multiplayer) | Nintendo Wi-fi Connection Pay & Play DLC compatible | Out Now | 800 Nintendo Points 
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (pointer)
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Review
4th December 2009; By KnucklesSonic8

Full of colour with its beautifully-stylized backgrounds, Spaceball: Revolution has got to be one of the more impressive puzzle games to hit the Wii Shop Channel in a while. Cross-mixing elements from arcade and puzzle genres, Virtual Toys has developed a title that's not only very robust as a WiiWare endeavour, but also serves as a great example of what other smaller-sized developers can do, even with just a simple concept.

    The main thrust of the game involves players firing energy balls at a large-sized grid to replicate a series of patterns shown on the top left-hand side of the screen. Players take aim with their Wii Remote and press the A or B Button to fire an energy ball. There are a total of 15 levels available at the outset, each containing a total of 5 rounds. Each round contains 10 puzzles for a total of 50 patterns played in sequence, one after the other.

    
With each passing round, there's also a timer that makes the game more and more difficult, leaving less margin for error. Once time runs out, the entire camera shifts backwards a step, making it even harder to hit some of the targets at certain angles. If you manage to make it to the next round, though, the camera will reset so all is not lost. However, if the camera shifts too far back, the game will be over, so you have to watch that timer carefully!

    What kinds of hurdles do players have to contend with? Although there aren't many to block your path to start with, players will soon be faced with a series of on-screen obstructions with a variety of properties. Some will remain in place, others will move in a clockwise direction, and some will even hang from the ceiling, swaying back and forth! Thankfully, you aren't subject to some of the more menacing obstacles very early on.

    
Before you start to conclude that gameplay sounds impossible, allow me to clarify something: obstacles are placed slightly in front of an area on the grid instead of covering them completely. Early levels contain modest obstructions such as a square that may only block one space on the grid, and although this may block a direct path, this does not mean sectors on the grid cannot be reached at all. As they tread through some treacherous stages, players will have to monitor, dodge and maneuever around well-placed obstacles to match the required patterns before time expires. In order to get around these obstacles, players can bounce energy balls off walls and if angled-correctly, the ball can light up hard-to-reach sectors on the grid all the while obtaining a multiplier bonus. It's a really cool feature and players can expect to use it frequently in later stages.

    
The developers also included a couple little touches here and there to help mix things up a bit. For example, in some of the later stages, the camera will spin around on occasion to throw you off, and other times, balls will fire automatically without your input. Needless to say, these and other gimmicks make the game even more challenging. Additionally, the game also features brief, little bonus stages at the end of each level. During these sessions, players try to shoot as many floating targets as they can, in order to accumulate bonus points to one's total score. It's a nice little diversion from the main gameplay but it would've helped if these bonus stages had additional directives as well in different environments.

    
It's no secret that Spaceball: Revolution is a very difficult title, even though the developers assure us at the start of the game that every stage has been cleared by Expert players. Whether or not you'll be motivated to clear all of the stages in the game highly depends on how patient you are. If you generally grow impatient with puzzles and get frustrated with challenge, then Spaceball: Revolution is not a game for you, but other gamers will see the challenge as a breath of fresh air amongst puzzle games on the WiiWare service. Despite its difficulty, the game can be very addictive when played in short bursts, which is great to see. Moreover, the eye-pleasing visuals and the techno-centric music tracks are wonderful and they also do much to make the experience that much more palatable.

    
So what other features did Virtual Toys implement into this release? For starters, after you clear a level in the main Challenge Mode, you can try each stage individually in Free Play mode to better acquaint yourself with the puzzles or even to beat your high-scores. The game's Challenge Mode even features a variety of difficulty settings to try to appeal to those who may want to tone down or increase the level of challenge, as the case may be. On the harder difficulties, the grid will completely reset once a pattern has been completed but on the easier difficulty settings, any areas on the grid that have already been highlighted will stay highlighted even with the start of a new pattern. Even with the available difficulty options, the game still comes off as very tricky and meticulous, so those looking for an "easier" difficulty setting may come away a bit more frustrated than they'd like.

   
Much has been said about the game's main modes, but it must not be overlooked that the game also comes equipped with multiplayer support. This mode allows two players to challenge each other in a split-screen affair on any of the stages completed in the Challenge mode. Multiplayer support is a great fit here and it can be really frantic, too, just don't expect to be playing for hours at a time. There's also a Ranking mode where players can view all of their best times and compare them either locally with friends or even online against some of the best players in the region. Online leaderboards are a great addition in this game and they add a sense of motivation for the player to achieve bragging rights in such a challenging game.

    
Last but not least, Virtual Toys also decided to add support for downloadable content in the game in the form of additional stage packs. The game already contains hours of content, so the promise of even more stages should bode well for those who love the game. As of this point there's nothing yet available but Virtual Toys does promise that DLC is coming "in the future", so keep an eye out for that.
 
    Overall, Spaceball: Revolution is a really strong contender in the pool of puzzle games on the WiiWare service. With impressive visuals, a robust selection of modes and challenging gameplay, you'd be hard-pressed to find better value for 800 Points. Virtual Toys should be proud of what they've done with this release and we can only hope that future releases will be as strong as this!

 
27/30 - Excellent

Gameplay 9/10 - Really easy to control, ability to bounce balls off walls is great, obstacles make the game challenging
Presentation 10/10 - Really impressive visuals that suit gameplay really well, great music, well-approached menus
Enjoyment 4/5 - Can be frustrating for some but others will be able to find the game enjoyable and addicting
Extra Content 4/5 - An impressive package: lots of content, multiplayer, DLC, and online leaderboards!

Equivalent to a score of 90% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)
Spaceball: Revolution (WiiWare)
Review | Screenshot gallery | Trailer | Preview | Feature | Interview

Related Game
Spaceball: Revolution (DSiWare)
Review | Screenshot gallery | Trailer | Preview | Feature | Interview
Review by KnucklesSonic8  |  How we rate games

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