The original Roogoo was a well-received puzzle game on Xbox Live Arcade and PC, so it's not shocking to see additional platforms being invaded by these sugary sweet, alien-bear creatures. To further the galactic conquest of the series, developer SpiderMonk and publisher SouthPeak Games have released Roogoo: Twisted Towers for the Wii. With substantially more content and Wii-specific play mechanics, this appears to be the definitive Roogoo experience, but is it an experience worth having?
I had played a little of the Roogoo demo on XBLA, so I had a basic understanding of the gameplay coming into Twisted Towers, but I'll quickly explain it for those of you not familiar. Blocks of various shapes fall from the top of the screen and you must rotate platforms so the blocks can fall through the correspondingly-shaped holes. Stack up the necessary amount of blocks on the bottom-most platform and you win that stage. Now while the game might sound as simple as your first set of Fisher-Price baby blocks, Roogoo throws plenty of twists into the formula to keep your inner-child amused.
Many of these twists are actually new to the Wii version and rely on the unique control methods afforded by the console. The game requires the nunchuk and uses the "Z" and "B" buttons to rotate the platforms and the d-pad to speed up the falling blocks. Those controls are pretty similar to the XBLA version, but the extra depth comes from moving a net around the screen to catch objects with the Wiimote. While mostly optional, catching things like butterflies or fish increases your score and the net can also snag any blocks you aligned incorrectly. Additionally, you can lob hammers at enemies with the "A" button, and drill through obstacles or clear the screen of visual impediments like ice by waving the Wiimote. It all combines into a pretty hectic multi-tasking experience producing a more action-packed feel than was found in the previous iterations.
The main campaign is split into eleven stages comprising a total of 81 levels (comparatively, the XBLA version had 45). At their simplest, the majority are puzzle levels as described above. By adding additional shapes, flipping platforms, adding trap doors, or sending waves of enemies to steal your blocks, Roogoo: Twisted Towers is never afraid to throw a new game mechanic your way. On the plus side, there are a lot of good ideas that come into play. Unfortunately, the game never seems to fully take advantage of combining all of these mechanics into something that is truly challenging. I almost felt like I was being teased. The gradation of difficulty would spontaneously drop-off, and instead of forcing me to master one mechanic, the game would regress and instead offer a new mechanic. Now, I'm not saying that they don't try to combine mechanics, because they often do, I just think there was a missed opportunity to truly test players who would be up to the task. I liked the new game mechanics and would have enjoyed playing them to a higher difficulty level. There are three different difficulties included, but from what I could tell, the only difference between "Normal" and "Roogoo Guru" was the number of mistakes you could make until you failed the level.
Just to keep things fresh, every few levels are free-falling action portions similar to the bonus stages in the classic "Sonic the Hedgehog 2". These skydiving levels are collect-athons where the on-rails character moves around the circumference of a cylindrically shaped path avoiding mines and grabbing (you guessed it) shapes. And then there are the randomly placed butterfly-catching levels where you wave around the Wiimote and catch butterflies. While it's nice to mix up the game types, I felt these non-puzzle sections of the game were weaker than the standard levels. Instead, I preferred the variations on the puzzle mechanic (especially as found in the boss battles and the ever-changing rule sets).
Apart from the main campaign, there are also two multiplayer modes with support for up to four players. The first of these modes is a split screen race to see who can get the required amount of blocks to the bottom the fastest. The other mode is "Party Play", where the person rotating the platforms alternates. Both of these modes incorporate the levels from the story mode, but unfortunately there is no online play (one of the few places the XBLA version outshines Twisted Towers).
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Roogoo: Twisted Towers, but after beating the single player campaign in four hours, I was left wanting more - both in content and in challenge. Fans of casual puzzle games should definitely give the game a look, as the content is polished, fun, and a refreshing break from the gluttony of "match three" puzzlers. More cultivated puzzle-seekers might find the experience a bit like eating Chinese food; they'll be hungry again in an hour.
Outstanding | Very Good | Fair | Poor | Awful
Recommended Buy Price: $14.99
Current MSRP: $29.99
"Roogoo: Twisted Towers" was provided for review by SouthPeak Games. The game's campaign was played to completion over the course of four hours. The recently released "Roogoo Attacks" for the DS can be linked to Twisted Towers to unlock an additional ten levels in the Wii game. I did not play those levels as part of this review.