i’ve played through a fair number of the demos available on wiiware, and the one of thruspace didn’t seem particularly fun. the game made it back onto my radar when its sequel (available on the 3DS’s eshop) ketzal’s corridors (aka speedthru: potzol’s puzzle came out a little more than a year ago. i decided to play through the original before tackling the sequel, and the game turned out to be much more fun and addictive than expected.
the game’s central mechanic is basically the video game version of the “human tetris” game show that originated in japan, in which contestants try to contort themselves to fit through shapes cut out from walls, and has appeared in various versions in other countries, including the US and the UK as hole in the wall. the game is also shares superficial similarities to 3D versions of tetris, which this random blog post reminds me is called blockout and not welltris which is something quite different.
anyway, fortunately, this video game is more fun than either the game show or blockout. the game starts off quite easy, and you can get to the end of each stage in the regular mode simply by rotating the keydron (i.e. block) to the smallest shape and slipping through each hole in the wall with room to spare. however, getting the highest score gets to be much more involved, and you’ll be rotating the keydron to catch all the crystals, as well as to perform “tricks” which is where you move the block so that is “paints” in the shape of the entire silhouette. performing tricks is almost a game in and of itself, and in fact the game includes a separate trick mode where you have to perform tricks for each wall in order to progress.
at the higher levels the keydron gets more and more complicated and each side makes a different shape, and before too long there’s only one way you can get through a given wall and performing tricks almost becomes like playing with tangrams, not to mention the added complexity of trying to do so in an efficient way so that you can also have time to nab the crystals. the game can get to be very “tricky”, although the hardest part is mastering the rotations of the block so that you can get the shape you’re looking for as quickly as possible. mastering the shapes of the various keydrons can be difficult and off-putting, esp. if you’re not particularly spatially inclined like myself, but it didn’t take too much trial and error with each block to feel more of less comfortable with them.
along with the normal and trick modes, there’s also an endless mode. there are 6 keydrons in all, and the game starts off with three levels for each keydron. after beating the first 15 stages, the final keydron is unlocked, and an additional extra stage is unlocked for each keydron, bringing the total up to 6 x 4 = 24. this is plenty, and with the addition of the other modes as a whole it’s a surprisingly substantial package (although a vs. mode would have been nice). beating the default high scores is definitely a worthwhile challenge, and every stage allows you to submit your score to the world leaderboard which is a nice addition.
all in all this was a surprisingly solid title, and one of the more enjoyable games i’ve played this year. there are some small drawbacks, such as the fact that the shapes the keydrons make when rotated are hard to visualize at times (which has been addressed in the sequel because the parts of the keydrons are different colors). there’s also a problem the review at nintendolife.com mentioned, which is that the space between walls isn’t constant, which means that at times there are some just plain cheap deaths simply because you don’t have enough time to react to the next wall; in these cases you end up just having to memorize what comes next, which feels unfair. i’m also surprised that tricks are scored by how many smaller shapes you use to “paint” the silhouette, with more points given to more moves. this seems counterintuitive to me, since it takes more mental effort to paint the silhouette more efficiently, with less moves. all in all, though, this was a surprisingly solid wiiware title, and one well worth checking out. it sees that the general consensus is that the game is eclipsed by its sequel (which does include a 2-player mode), but i’ll just have to wait and see on that.