Mouse House Review
Posted by Sean Aaron
Home improvements needed
Mouse House is the latest game to make the jump from iPhone to WiiWare. Not all of these transitions are very successful, but Mouse House is a basic enough puzzle game that it survives the leap intact and without bringing any shame upon developers Plaid World Studios. Unfortunately, in the competitive WiiWare marketplace, it's lacking in features that make it as compelling as other puzzle games already available.
Visually Mouse House scales well to the Wii: even on a large plasma screen television the hand-drawn cartoony artwork has nice clean edges and bright colours. The round mouse and rat characters are very cute and look like refugees from ChuChu Rocket!; and whilst there's not much in the way of special effects outside of glowing wasp stings and fireballs, they're nice enough for a puzzle game. The repeated music loop is inoffensive and the sound effects are adequate, with the standard option to adjust the volume of either if you desire.
The gameplay is as basic as the graphics and sound: move your mouse using to collect all the cheeses while avoiding enemies like rats, wasps and green slimy things on your way to the exit. You'll find chili peppers that grant you the use of a single fireball attack when eaten, and balls to roll out of your way or use to block enemies. Add in floor areas that can only be crossed once and you have all the required elements for a decent puzzle game. Some of the levels are quite challenging to navigate, but mostly they're not too tough and will be within the grasp of younger players drawn to the cutesy characters.
Your main opponents are rats and wasps. Rats move about in one of three patterns and have different colours to indicate which variety they are: red, blue and green. Wasps are stationary and fire stings when you move into their sights; unless you're very far from them these cannot be avoided, so using chili peppers to destroy them or balls to block their shots will be required. Green slimy things are your final foe and sleep until you grab the last cheese, at which point they zoom straight to you; unlike your other enemies they cannot be destroyed by fireballs. Touching any of your enemies means death, but the only consequence of that is restarting the level. If the level is really tough you can just go back to the main menu and start your game at the next one.
There are 100 levels on offer and theoretically you could spend quite some time with Mouse House, but there's simply not going to be enough challenge for the dedicated puzzle player because there's little incentive to progress further. There are no scores or any other kind of achievements to indicate how well you're doing, and the game only ends when you want it to: if you fail you get a prompt to replay, if you get stuck you just click a button to do the same. The only thing that gets recorded is the last level completed, but since you can play whichever level you like it's not really a measure of how far you've gone in the game. Without any other play modes on offer most people won't find Mouse House interesting enough to come back to very often.
Mouse House isn't a bad puzzler and is certainly a nice-looking game. We feel younger players who like puzzling about with cute characters will enjoy it, but for most fans of the genre there simply isn't enough content or challenge here to occupy them for long. On a console with as many quality puzzle games as the Wii has, Mouse House just doesn't have what it takes to stand out in the crowd.