Whereas Monkey Ball
and the others use the labyrinth concept in some fantastical setting, The Incredible Maze
is never more than a literal maze: a flat platform floating in space (which comprises some obnoxious background image). There are different visual themes: the first set of levels looks like a regular wooden labyrinth, and the second has some futuristic circuitboard-esque look with lines of colored lights racing about. The simple, representative nature of the game is fine considering the cost. And it's not like the gameplay is affected by the fact that your ball is just a ball and not a baby monkey inside
These platforms start off simple: mazes consisting of wide lanes surrounded by walls. Then the lanes narrow and become dotted by holes; the walls disappear, and the mazes get more winding. Holding the Wii Remote sideways, your motions correspond to tilting movements on the board. And this is where the game crosses the line between average and awful.
The motion controls are far
too sensitive. The board constantly jitters when you hold the Wiimote, responding to the shaking of your hands. Any perceptible movement jerks the board around. It takes an excessively soft touch to successfully navigate the maze. Of course, since all that happens when you lose is that an "attempts" count increments and you're dropped back in the area you were, it doesn't really matter how many times you fall as long as you make a bit of progress each time. I'd love to try
for a perfect run, but that is madness.
Compounding the difficulty controlling the movement of the ball is the fact that there's no absolute visual cue to the orientation of the board. It's not that the board doesn't visibly tilt, but rather that the neutral position (the position at which the ball doesn't roll) is not
displayed as straight above the board; rather, it's displayed as being viewed from near the bottom of the maze. The skewed perspective makes it really
hard to tell by sight which way the board is tilted -- until a new ball drops down and falls right off the side again. The only way to recover from a fall like that is to try to correct a little bit every time the ball comes down and watch as its beeline to the edge slows a little each time. Most of the time, the perspective causes holes to be obscured by walls, as well.
It is possible, and sometimes necessary, to make the ball jump across the stage or over a wall. You do this by rapidly flicking the Wiimote in the right direction. The jumping is incredibly flaky, however. In my experience, trying
to jump resulted in a high-speed roll in the wrong direction or nothing
, while careful, slow motions would occasionally send the ball rocketing across the stage. It's seemingly impossible to control the distance of your jump even if you do
successfully jump, so you may clear the target row entirely, or jump back to the beginning of the maze (which happened a couple of times).
Surprisingly, the Balance Board controls are a lot less temperamental, though still too difficult for the game to be playable for any amount of time. The jump is mapped to the A button in this case, which helps you reliably pull off the move, though it doesn't help with the accuracy at all.
I'm fairly certain that even if the controls worked, The Incredible Maze
would be kind of boring. But instead it's profoundly
irritating. The controller seems to actively oppose your attempts to move smoothly and subtly, and the game's one special move requires you to fling the Wiimote around. The most incredible thing about The Incredible Maze
is how quickly it infuriated me.
Final Score: 2/10