Unique fast, frenetic puzzling; almost a hundred stages in glorious 3-D; single-system multiplayer
Lack of online play
We like to discuss how developers both new and old have been outdoing themselves with the Nintendo eShop– how their releases, from seriously hardcore platformers to puzzlers with a dash of platforming to cherry blossom-filled slashfests have all but stopped naysayers in their tracks when it comes to Nintendo online. Turns out it’s not just ports of former handheld sweethearts that fill Nintendo eShop to the brim, but also plenty of creative games that almost remind us of Xbox Live Arcade. Suffice it to say that Ketzal’s Corridors, the Keys Factory-developed, Nintendo-published title released last week on eShop, continues the tradition of great– and refreshing– games on eShop.
While it’s a bit difficult to describe on paper, Ketzal’s Corridors is essentially what Tetris would look like from a Tetromino’s view. You, playing as a block of varying shapes (called “guardians” ingame), must rotate your piece to fit holes and collect hearts, rushing through them to the finish line before time’s up and trying not to run into any walls. In the beginning, this is pretty simple: you’re a simple, roughly L-shaped block, and while you head through walls automatically, the pace is fairly slow. At the same time, the holes you have to go through in the beginning are often bigger than they need to be. Combined, these early elements make it comparatively easy to pull off “tricks” (covering up all parts of a silhouette with your block) and “combos” (getting through consecutive holes while getting hearts). Later, though, as silhouettes get smaller and smaller and as the pace gets faster and faster, Ketzal’s Corridors is much less forgiving. Players will have to learn exactly how their block rotates, because there sure won’t be time to fumble.
Oh, little L-block, you make things so seemingly easy for us.
But even as the game gets more difficult– pillars fall from the sky and walls close in from even the left and right sides– it’s hard to say Ketzal’s Corridors will ever force players to give up out of rage. There’s always other things to do in the game besides the “main” paths, with various other stages available to both test and train players’ mettle. These include everything from high-speed arenas, wherein players have to both fly fast and rotate quickly, to endless towers of flight, for the boldest of guardians. And when players get far enough, they unlock totally strange-looking new guardians to rotate, essentially effecting new avenues both of consternation and of self-worth. Each stage furthermore has medals unlocked through speedy play and high combo counts, which don’t really do anything besides make players feel good about themselves. Which is just as well.
That’s the simple jist of the game, which is just as well, because that’s already enough to distract us to high heaven. Coupled with the game is some upbeat, exotic “Aztec”-y music, to go with a Aztec-themed storyline involving stone guardians that have to retrieve their god’s missing hearts. It’s a little superfluous in that players will immerse themselves in Ketzal’s Corridors‘s puzzle stylings with no reasons needed whatsoever, but seeing as it’s illustrated through animated wall paintings reminiscent of the opening of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, the story remains a nice touch.
Oh. That’s new. I can take it. I hope.
Although there’s no online play, Ketzal’s Corridors features both a local option and and a single-system option. This isn’t single-card style, though– it’s an option that allows two players to play on the same 3DS, one player on each side of the system. It’s a smile-inducing feature that’s even better than WarioWare: Touched!‘s single-system table tennis, and things get predictably frantic (though not wearily so).
Graphically, Ketzal’s Corridors does the job wonderfully. This could probably be an entertaining game if it were just blocks and silhouettes, but the Aztec-inspired locale fits nicely with the gameplay– even if players will often spend a lot more time rotating around on frenzied instinct rather than gazing at the atmosphere. The three-dimensional effect, though, is the real kicker– zooming around in Ketzal’s Corridors is almost as visceral as doing so in Star Fox 3D. It might even be more visceral, considering what players essentially do in this game is fall gracefully through holes in walls, and the constant feeling of the walls rushing toward the screen is hard to shake off. And like in Pushmo, the 3-D effect even helps a bit with gameplay, letting you better know precisely in what position your 3-D block is in. I rarely turned off the 3-D effect while playing Ketzal’s Corridors, and have no regrets– 2-D Ketzal’s Corridors just seems flat.
STOP IT. JUST STOP IT RIGHT NOW.
Ketzal’s Corridors, while not wholly unique in its puzzle play (it is, after all, a top-down Tetris), certainly feels unique. With almost a hundred levels and the constant drive to beat the high score on every one, the game demands an unrelenting combination of both brains and reflexes that is unmatched elsewhere on Nintendo eShop. Its difficulty may be high, but as with every puzzler, there’s a solution: just add practice.
Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.