Labyrinth DS Review

Some hardcore Taito fans out there might be familiar with a game called Cameltry. For those of you that aren't (you know, the people with social lives and such), allow me to fill you in. Cameltry is essentially Marble Madness, but in reverse. Instead of controlling the ball through a maze, you control the maze itself, twisting and turning it around as it flies through the air and reaches a pinpointed exit on the other side. The early stages prove useful, teaching the basics to the player. However, as the game picks up and moves into the Special Stages, it becomes challenging to even the most dextrous of gamers. The game has seen a release on the SNES in the form of On the Ball, as well as in the Taito Legends 2 and Taito Legends Power-Up releases. Now UFO Interactive gives Cameltry a try on the DS with the release of Labyrinth.

The name may be confusing. These stages aren't exactly labyrinths, just small mazes that require a great deal of patience and time to complete. Like the original Cameltry, players manipulate the maze by turning it around, left and right, using the touch screen or the digital controls to move it clockwise and counter-clockwise. During each stage, bonus blocks can be hit to add seconds to the dwindling time limit. However, obstacles also need to be avoided, including negatively charged blocks, barriers that can send the marble in the wrong direction and pinball bumpers that can knock it into another time zone.

The gameplay works well, but there are some issues here. First off, the collision detection makes the ball feel too weighted, rather than a free-falling device. It still works but it almost feels like it gained some weight through a failed Jenny Craig program or something. Also, tilting the stage left and right with the touch-screen can result in too many misdirections. Trust our judgment when we say go with the regular controls instead. The graphics look good. Not exceptional, mind you, but the cute anime characters and charming backgrounds keep the simplicity of the game from going overboard. The music could be better, but what's here works.

Labyrinth does have several mazes to offer, separated into four specific sections. However, once they're beaten, the game leaves you with little else to do. Sure, you can go back and re-challenge the stages for the absolute best time, but there's little reward to uncover as a result. Sure, extra marbles come into play, but they perform pretty much the same way. A four-player multiplayer mode offers some diverting racing fun, especially when you consider that it can be done via download play. However, no rankings are kept and no trophies given, so its fun might be more short-lived than UFO Interactive might have expected.

You could spend $20 on worse things, though. Labyrinth doesn't quite have the legs to live up alongside other puzzle games, but it does offer a little bit of substance for those looking for an exercise in strategy and cunning. The multiplayer is a nice touch as well, considering that Taito didn't even need to throw it in at all. Still, with just a little more work on the physics and some extra stages, they could've really gotten the ball rolling here.

What's Hot: Gameplay has its moments of fun, especially when in the harder levels; pretty good presentation; decent multiplayer.

What's Not: Collision detection and controls can be problematic; over way too soon in single player mode; no fulfilling bonus content outside of new marbles.