Roogoo: Twisted Towers is a puzzle game by developers SpiderMonk, who had developed a version of Roogoo last year for the Xbox Live Arcade and Windows platforms. This iteration of the game keeps with the same idea and overall play style of the original release by incorporating a few Wii-specific controls. The entire experience is ported over extremely well, although how much you'll enjoy it depends on how well you liked the original title. There's even some interaction between this title and the DS release, allowing you to unlock bonus content between the two, such as extra levels in the Wii game for each of the stages you'll encounter.
If you missed out on the original release, I'll try and bring you up to speed on the ins and outs of this oddly named title. Remember in preschool, when you had to match up wooden blocks and fit them in appropriately shaped holes? That's just about the basis of Twisted Towers's puzzles, and you'll notice that similarity right off the bat. You have a series of floating land masses, and you'll need to rotate them to guide the appropriately shaped "meteors" — they look like wooden blocks — through holes and on to the next land mass. Certain levels will have multiple land masses, with a variety of obstacles to overcome or figure out, as you steer the meteors through the gauntlet until you reach the end the level. It definitely sounds simple and isn't a difficult concept to grasp, but the execution gets more complex as you progress through the game's 100 levels and it becomes more difficult to keep the land masses lined up properly.
There's a Story mode, which makes up a majority of the game and details the Roogoo's plight against the Meemoo and how they want to restore their planet Roo to its former glory. The meteors/blocks are the foundation of this plan, so you're basically trying to collect as many as possible before the Meemoo can get their hands on them. It's a pretty light story, and there's not much in the way of dialogue outside of the levels. Obviously, the plot isn't necessary to enjoy the game, but it's there for those who want something else to go along with their puzzle-solving. The game design includes super-cute bear-like creatures, and even the evil Meemoo have an animated charm to them, so it's definitely a game that is suitable for young kids. The visuals aren't particularly impressive on the Wii, but that's due to the simple design of the puzzles and levels. There's not a great deal to see aside from a few static backdrops and some enemies that will pop up here and there. The game is bright and definitely colorful, and it'll easily appeal to the younger crowd.
The gameplay is where the adults will find the charm, and it certainly won me over after my initial bout of skepticism. There are three difficulty modes, and even the Normal mode can be challenging at the outset; it's highly suggested that new players start with the Casual mode to get acquainted with the different mechanics and puzzles. The controls are as simple as the concept; both the Remote and Nunchuk are used, with the B and Z buttons moving the land mass right or left, while the A button will unleash a hammer that's useful against certain bosses. While you move the Remote around, you'll notice a net on-screen, which can be used to collect blocks that have bounced off the board to reduce your overall penalty, which is revealed by a meter on the left side of the screen. The net also serves as a deterrent for some of the enemies that will populate a board, like bats or butterflies, which will try to steal blocks after they've already been placed. You'll lose time as you try to replace them, thereby affecting your overall bonus at the end of the round. Initially, it can be a little daunting to manipulate the net while focusing on the meteors, but the difficulty is gradually increased, and by the time you hit the final set of stages, you should have the coordination to accomplish most of the goals. The blocks will begin to fall faster and in groups, so you'll definitely be tested by the end of the game.
My only big issue with Twisted Towers is that visibility is often hampered on-screen, and not only by the intentional enemies and bosses you'll encounter. Often, you'll have an obstructed view by your net, since it manages to occupy a sizeable amount of screen space, and you'll need to be aware of its placement so as not to block out a shape. Also, certain stages are slow in revealing the block that's going to drop and even go as far as to partially obscure the first non-adjustable land mass. I imagine this is part of the intended design, but I felt frustrated with certain puzzles that wouldn't allow me to plan ahead, which I'd grown accustomed to doing in other puzzle titles over the years.
Aside from the Story mode, which supports up to two players in co-op mode (one controls the net and hammer), there's also a split-screen Race mode that has players trying to finish their shape stacks first, and Party Play, which randomly switches up the role of each player as you progress through the levels. The split-screen race is fun, but I didn't get much use or excitement out of Party Play. They're worth trying out, but they're hardly the main reason for picking up the game.
I enjoyed Roogoo: Twisted Towers quite a bit, but I'm not sure that I'd suggest it to fans who have played the previous XBLA or PC iteration. It's a budget-priced title for the Wii, so you won't go broke if you decide to purchase Twisted Towers without trying it out as a rental first. It's worth checking out, and it's certainly a unique take on the puzzle genre.Score: 8.0/10
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