While we've already seen several 3D ball-rolling titles like Sega's Super Monkey Ball and Hudson's Kororinpa put the tilt function of the Wii Remote to good use, Equilibrio marks the first time this unique gameplay experience has been used in a 2D environment. But while Equilibrio does simplify the tilt control method used in those previous releases, it adds in enough new challenges to more than make up for it.
Equilibrio features a single-player game as well as a multiplayer option for up to four players. The single-player game features several modes ranging from the Conquest Mode, which allows the player to play through all 64 of the game's levels one right after another, to the Challenge Mode that allows you to play the same levels, only under strict rules and conditions such as a time or ball limit. If you just want to dive into the game in a quick fashion, you can even select the Random Mode in which the game tosses random levels your way.
The multiplayer game allows up to four players to play the game at the same time via a split-screen feature that splits the screen in half for two players and into 4 quadrants for three to four players. While this does greatly reduce the screen area, it's still quite easy to follow the action as long as you focus only on your section of the screen. Much like the single-player game, there are several game modes to choose from in the multiplayer game. Conquest Mode is basically the same as it is in the single-player game, only more than one player will be playing at the same time. There's also a Rally Mode where you can take on up to three other players in a race to finish 5 of the game's levels. The first player to finish the final level wins the rally. Finally, there's the Match Mode where up to four players can take on five of the game's levels in an attempt to outscore each other. The player with the highest point total at the end of the final level wins the match.
The basic game play in Equilibrio couldn't be any simpler. You basically tilt your Wii Remote to the left or right in order to tilt the entire level onscreen. This will cause your ball to roll across the many platforms in each level. Your goal is to roll your ball to the exit hidden somewhere in each level. Of course you'll have to deal with spikes, acid pools, and other dangers in each level trying to stop you. You'll even have to take into account the various types of balls you'll be using, as well. While a steel ball is nearly indestructible, it's also heavy and requires a higher degree of inclination to make it roll. On the other hand, the glass and stone balls tend to roll more easily, but can often break if they slam into walls or platformer. You'll have to constantly adjust your techniques to take these various ball differences into account.
The game starts you off with a limited amount of tilting freedom in order to give you a chance to come to grips with how the game is played. But as you progress through the levels, you'll be given more and more freedom with which you can tilt the level. The game also features a very smooth and gradual climb in difficulty, so you'll have plenty of time to get a feel for the game before the challenge ramps up. The game will even adjust the difficulty setting as you play in order to fit your skill set. If you fail during a particular level a number of times the game will offer you the option of skipping the level and will even drop the difficulty setting down a notch at various times throughout the game. It's a small touch, but it does manage to keep the game from becoming overly frustrating, especially during the later levels that are fairly high in difficulty.
As is becoming the trend with Wii releases lately, Equilibrio also features support for the Wii Fit Balance Board. Now while this option has proven to be a bit too sensitive in many titles it's been used in recently, the board actually works fairly well in Equilibrio if you can accept it for the fun control alternative it is. You'll quickly find yourself flailing away on the board as you attempt to use your shifting body weight to guide your ball along the tricky layouts in the various levels. The balance board is certainly not nearly as intuitive a control solution as the Wii Remote, but if you're looking to have a good laugh and test your balance out a bit, you'll likely find this unique control option a fun experience.
It's worth mentioning that the control itself can be a bit shaky at times, more due to becoming overly sensitive once you attain the full range of movement from the tilt function. It's certainly not anything that could be classified as annoying, but it does take a bit of getting used to. Some of it can also be attributed to the way some levels are laid out that require you to be very precise in your tilting, perhaps a bit more precise than the sensitive tilt control will allow for. A few tweaks here and there in the play control and menu setup might have helped out, but the overall game play experience is still enjoyable nonetheless.
Visually Equilibrio isn't much to look at. The levels themselves are very basic and although you'll get a variety of colour and texture changes, there's not much to the visual presentation other than the platforms that make up each level. In truth, there's not really a big need for flashy visuals, but when you've gotten used to staring at the lush environments of say a Super Monkey Ball or Kororinpa title, Equilibrio proves to be a pretty significant step down in terms of graphics quality.
Much like the visuals in the game, the music and sound effects feature a "less is more" approach to their audio presentation. There are a number of catchy little musical numbers, but they're so short in length that you'll hear them repeated quite often throughout each level. And for those times when you find yourself stuck on one level for any significant amount of time, the music can become quite grating after awhile. The sound effects are about the same, but they play such a small role in the overall scheme of things that you won't find yourself noticing the slight lack of variety. In truth, even this basic audio experience is more than adequate considering the style of action taking place.
Equilibrio is one of those games that isn't overly flashy, but has it where it counts. The simple game play design and challenging level set will keep you busy for quite some time, and at a mere 500 Nintendo Points, it's actually a bargain. It might not feature the depth or production quality of a Super Monkey Ball or Kororinpa, but when it's all said and done, the game is fun and won't break your wallet. And that's a winning combination as far as we're concerned.