If you’re a fan of puzzle games, Mindware and Nintendo left you a present on the Wii Shop during this holiday season. MaBoShi’s Arcade is a collection of three simple and addictive puzzle games that are difficult to master, but thanks to the wealth of options and features available, you will want to do just that.

MaBoShi is a mash up of three Japanese words: maru (ball), bou (stick) and shikaku (square). These three shapes are the ones that are the focal point of each of the three puzzles, and are named Circle, Bar and Square.

Dec. 29, 2008

In Circle, you move a ball around a circle by pressing the A button to send it either left or right. You crash into and defeat enemies that are attempting to leave the circle in this way, utilizing your momentum and whatever shape is hanging from a string in the middle of the puzzle in order to complete the task. If a single enemy escapes, it’s game over for you.

For Bar, you control a small circle with a stick attached to it. The ball is the focal point of the object, while the stick swings around it. You use the momentum generated by the stick to fling yourself vertically through the stage, swinging the stick into enemies and blocks to defeat them and clear your path to the goal. If the ball touches any of these objects, you lose.

In Square, you play a game that’s somewhat akin to Snake. You control a moving block that leaves a trail of fire (which is just other blocks tinted red). You need to ignite all of the blocks on your screen with this fire in order to clear the level, but be warned: if any blocks remain when the screen inches up to them-each move you make causes the puzzle to move vertically-and that includes the ones you trail behind you, you will lose the stage and have to restart.

All three of these games are easy to pick up and play, especially thanks to the tutorial and practice modes that ensue before you get to collect points. The thing that keeps you coming back is that you need to score 1,000,000 points in order to win, which is nowhere near as simple as it sounds. The games are deceptively difficult, and unless you are capable of some incredible feats of mental agility, it’s going to take time to master the three different games.

You can play with up to three people total, each trying a different game if you wish, as you race to 1,000,000 points. The games would be nifty enough as is, but there’s another twist in these puzzlers; they interact with each other. Defeat an enemy with your ball, and a burst of energy flies to the other games and destroys blocks and defeats enemies, racking you up more points while both helping and hurting your opponent. Whack blocks in your neighbors Square mode or send the ball in Circle flying with the stick in Bar mode. This element, whether done intentionally or accidentally by the players, adds an intriguing wrinkle to the challenge of 1,000,000 points.

That’s the gameplay in a nutshell, but the robust feature set merits mentioning. First, you can save replays of your best attempts, and either send those to your friends over WiiConnect24 or, better yet, you can use those replays in place of your friends or the computer so you have an interactive neighbor when you play alone.

You can use your Mii’s as avatars, which is where these replays and your top scores are saved. That makes accessing your friend’s replays for your own use a breeze, as you just select them and drop them into one of the three game boxes.

The best part of all of this may be the fact that you can download a version of the game to your DS using Nintendo Wi-Fi. Once you have played each game once, you will unlock this feature. Simply open up DS Download Play on your DS and start it up, and you will have a copy of MaBoShi on your flash memory until you shut the system off. The graphics are a downgrade, but the look and sound is decidedly retro, and it more than fits this title. Your scores won’t transfer from the DS to the Wii, but you do get to practice these difficult games while on the go, and at no extra cost to you.

This game even has presentation down pat, with multiple wallpapers (and additional ones you can unlock) as well as a fantastic soundtrack. Sound in a puzzle game is very important, as you need songs that are going to set the mood and keep you locked in to the gameplay, and MaBoShi succeeds on that front. As stated, the DS songs are much more retro sounding, but they are just as good.

Puzzle fans, be thankful that Nintendo of America saw fit to bring this Japanese puzzler to our shores, as it’s easily one of the top offerings on WiiWare (and that’s saying something, given how stacked the lineup was during the last third of 2008). You owe it to yourself to pick up this deceptively deep puzzle experience, especially with the incredible feature set, and all for a measly 800 Wii Points. You can’t do much better than that for value, so stop reading and take a trip to MaBoShi’s Arcade; I promise, you won’t want to leave even after you’ve reached that elusive millionth point.

About The Author

Marc Normandin was gaming editor of Blast from 2008 to mid-2010. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter @Marc_Normandin

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