If there's a common complaint heard in these parts it's that there's too many puzzle games on the WiiWare service. Well, we take issue with that. Yes there are lots of puzzle games, but as long as a game has merit there cannot really be too many, can there? Moki Moki is a game that suggests maybe there can be too many puzzle games - at least puzzle games that are overly simplistic and uninteresting.
The "premise" of the game is that the Moki - pink, blobby, rabbit-eared things that look like the product of a marriage between a Rabbid and a space hopper - need to be rescued as they're tumbling from a spawning point into the formless void of... some place. Your mission is to direct a set number of them into a glowing yellow exit vortex within the prescribed time limit whilst losing as few of them as possible. You'll have an additional obstacle in the form of Groblins (purple blobby things with horns that look like the product of a marriage between the, uh -- the Devil and a purple jelly!) that will also come out of the spawning points in some levels. If Groblins touch they'll combine to make a bigger Groblin and if three combine the resulting über-Groblin will proceed to eat any Moki in its immediate vicinity. Neither Moki nor Groblins are independently mobile so you need to shift them using parts of the environment, which can be influenced by pressing left or right on the whilst holding the remote on its side, NES-style.
That's the entire game outwith the occasional level that functions as a bonus round, in which you're just trying to get the most points possible by rescuing as many Moki as you can within the time limit. The only variation between levels is the structures you can influence and the paths the Moki need to take to get to the glowing vortices of freedom. There are 100 levels in all and they have varying numbers of Moki to rescue before they're completed. If you run out of time it's "Game Over" and you can restart or go back to the level select screen. After the first level is complete you'll get three more unlocked. If you take them in series you'll unlock one more for every level you complete. Completing the second in a group of three will unlock two more levels and if you jump to the 3rd in a series you'll unlock three more if you beat it. So you could play levels 5, 8, 11 or 6, 9, 12 and unlock extra levels for play without having to beat every single one. After a level is complete the high score for that level is recorded along with the number of Moki lost.
The levels vary a fair amount in design. In some, rocking the back-and-forth moves a claw to scoop up Moki from a receptacle; in others you're tilting a bowl to tip them from one area to another or rotating a spiral with the spawning point on the outer edge and the exit at the centre. There's an impressive variety in the levels and the layout will be shown in silhouette every time you highlight one in the level select screen. The Moki and Groblins look nice and cartoony and they're all cute and well-animated. The game is quite accessible for younger players (though this is a single-player game), but the game is ultimately far too simplistic in goal and execution to hold any experienced puzzler's attention for long.
Many of the levels can be completed in under a minute, but rather than jumping straight to the next one, you end up back at the level select screen where you're told you got the high score - "great job!" - and then what levels were unlocked before you decide which level to take on next. It's just not a compelling experience and feels more like you're working an assembly line packing Moki into containers to be shipped off to a Groblin cocktail party. Whilst every level is different, elements will repeat themselves and it very quickly becomes apparent the game isn't going to throw out any surprises in level 20, let alone level 100. Given the goal for each level is fixed, the only way to get a better score is to lose fewer Moki or reach the goal quicker than you did last time - hardly a thrilling challenge that will have anyone coming back for repeat plays.
Moki Moki feels like a concept that would work well as a cheap iPhone game with its simple controls, but there's not really enough here to justify an 800 Point WiiWare price tag. If you've got kids they might find the cute characters appealing and the controls accessible, but it's doubtful anyone will want to play through all 100 levels of this game when there are many cheaper, more worthy puzzle games available on WiiWare already.