Move Your Brain: Rollway Puzzle Review
Posted by Rebecca Gunn
Tilting fun on a DSi
Move Your Brain: Rollway Puzzle certainly is a brave title. It dares make use of the DSi camera extensively – the last title to do that was Nintendo’s own WarioWare Snapped! and the result was a game that didn’t really work in a lot of lighting situations.
The game is based on a maze of 3D platforms, the job of the player is to guide a ball around the courses by titling the DSi. Without dedicated hardware built-in to the handheld, there's a clever idea at work: Rollway uses the camera to track the users head as a centering point, mimicking the accelerometer found in devices like the iPhone/Touch and the Wii Remote. It actually works quite well, providing there's a decent amount of lighting.
Yes, the lighting issue does come up, though its less picky than WarioWare. Instead of simply not working if the lighting isn't up to par, Rollway gives a little leeway so when there's moderate lighting the tilting is less sensitive. It will work in bright daylight, but if its too downcast or dark then it won't work at all or incorrectly. The game also provides suggestions each time you play on how to hold the DSi to get best use out of the camera tilt.
The game requires the player to tilt the ball in the desired direction, with the shoulder buttons used to employ brakes that "stick" the ball to the ground for a limited time. This saves the more open courses from getting too annoying. Generally courses consist of flicking switches and collecting coins to open doors. Speed strips, black holes, springs and catapults aid in getting the ball about. There are also lives for the ball but thankfully a game over only means starting the current course from the beginning, which can be a relief after accidentally falling off the edge several times.
The game starts off a bit easy but a few levels in introduces puzzle challenges, which get quite tricky. The in-game camera does a good job of keeping track of the ball so it never feels like its intruding on play even with all the fast action at times. Sometimes it's annoying losing balls on a new level, particularly if the ball is stopped close to the edge as it tends to slip off once the brake is taken off, but generally everything feels fair. There's a certain enjoyment to be had in tilting the DSi and seeing the ball actually move its way across the field, so even if a challenge stumps you there's still fun in working it out. And because the continue system is quite forgiving, puzzle frustrations don't last long.
There's a pretty good amount of variety in levels – some are a bit of a race against timed switches, others require some exploration or avoidance and discovering hidden routes. Certainly good thought has been put to providing varied puzzles and the game keeps an overall score on save to boot, and with three save slots your friends can also try their hand at a top score.
There isn't a lot of graphical variety at play; the courses are very green and there is some foliage and flowers, and objects do stand out from the course to make it easier to spot things. There seems to be only one track in the game which is a rather mellow whistling tune, which is fine, but a bit repetitive after a while. However sometimes the lighting can cause issues with getting the ball to move around. I tried the game in quite a few locations, it worked in a coffee shop, was a bit fussy in rooms with shaded areas but improved near windows during daylight and near light sources, so it certainly seems to be flexible enough. Occasionally I found that in some areas with moderate light the ball would tilt in some directions yet be a bit stubborn in others, though the ball wont move anywhere until you get to a better light source, so this prevents any deaths due to controls cutting out also.
Assoria certainly have made good use of the DSi camera, although it's a bit of a shame that the camera isn't quite good enough to provide a quality gameplay experience wherever you go. It seems to have been tweaked enough to work reasonably in most environments, although you might just have to hunt for a good spot in some places. But camera issues aside, Rollway Puzzle is a pretty decent puzzler which should keep players entertained a while and is an interesting start to Assoria's Move Your Brain series. Certainly unique titles such as this to "brain train" are nice to have outside of the usual sudoku and math problems that currently reside on DSiWare.