I enjoy puzzle games, so when the option came up to review Ketzal’s Corridors, I took it. Ketzal’s Corridors is a 3DS title very similar to the WiiWare title ThruSpace. In fact, in Europe, the game is known as SpeedThru: Potzol’s Puzzle. This version of the title is an Aztec-themed puzzle game that offers nearly 100 levels and three multiplayer modes. With improved graphics and music, this game plays pretty much exactly like ThruSpace does. I was actually quite surprised at how nice this game looks and works with 3D features. The background music changed with each of the four stages and all of the tunes were well-composed. In that sense, at the very least, this game is an improvement over ThruSpace’s comparative bland appearance and sound.
I always think it’s weird when puzzle games have a story behind them, but Ketzal’s Corridors does a decent enough job of setting the game up, and it helps to make sense of what would otherwise be a random Aztec theme. Basically, the story is as such: Ketzal, the god of creation, created a bunch of temples in the spirit world that Koruptal, the god of destruction, stole a bunch of hearts from, bringing the spirit world into utter chaos. Ketzal has a servant, Xolo, who goes and finds some divine protectors (the block creatures you control) in order to get these hearts back and save the spirit world. Throughout the game, you control King Prana (the most simple block creature), King Leo, and King Croco (the most complicated block creature). The Hootzil Bros., blocks with some bird gods, are also playable characters, but only in the Hootzil Caverns.
The actual gameplay of Ketzal’s Corridors is that you control one of these guardians depending on which spirit world you’re on. These guardians need to go through gaps in walls and collect hearts. As you move through the game, there’s an increase in obstacles that get in your way, whether that’s moving walls, falling blocks, or twists and turns in the corridors. Basically, it’s like you’re on rails, and you’ll have to rotate these guardians so that they can fit through these holes before smashing into the wall and failing the level. In order to accomplish this, you use the X, Y, A, and B buttons to rotate the block in a given direction, or R to rotate it clockwise. While you’d think that the L button would rotate the block counterclockwise, but no such luck. The L button actually speeds you up. This can get confusing sometimes when you accidentally rotate too far; unfortunately I don’t really know of an alternate option without taking the ability to speed up out, which comes in hand for levels where you need to use those dashes.
You get combos by collecting at least one heart through each consecutive wall, and you get bonuses for tricks, which is where you make your silhouette match the entire open space and land on one of the hearts. You’ll get every heart in the hole if you do this, regardless of whether you actually touch it going through. Combos are easier to get than tricks, though both will aid in the collection of hearts, which will aid in unlocking different modes of play. One strength this game offers is the variety of game modes available. In regular play, you’ll be going through ruins, trying to collect hearts without running out of time. There are other stages you can unlock, though, like a tower where you match your guardian up with different hole shapes as quickly as possible, or a maze where you have to memorize which holes to go through in order to unlock the next room and eventually to get out of the ruins. You can also go through levels that have it set up like a speed run, where the time limit is really tight and you can’t afford to miss hearts. You don’t have to do these levels to go forward, but they’re nice breaks from just going through ruins, and the variety provided definitely keeps the game from getting too dull.
One annoying thing about playing is that when you get to the higher levels, there are moving panels that get in your way right before you get to the hole, blocking your view. Normally, when you have trouble getting to a shape that’ll fit through the wall, a red circle that acts as a timer will pop up, and if it runs out, you fail the level. The same thing happens here, except you can’t actually see where the hole is. So how exactly are you supposed to get to a shape that can fit through the wall when you don’t know what shape you should make? The easiest way to fight against this is to set up early, but you don’t always have this opportunity as some walls are set up to come pretty quickly after one another. I think they could have done a bit better as far as giving you time to set up in that specific situation, but other than that I felt like the levels were set up well.
If your goal is simply getting through the story mode, this game isn’t terribly difficult, especially if you get yourself to the side that has the smallest silhouette and breeze through. If, however, you want to earn a gold medal in every stage, you are definitely in for a challenge. I liked that about this game: you could essentially choose the difficulty you wanted to play as you go. You can change strategies in the middle of a level for all anyone cares, and you don’t even have to open a menu. The game also rewards you for choosing the more difficult route, as some of the stage’s levels can only be accessed once you’ve gotten a certain number of hearts–a number that doesn’t transfer over stages. I felt like this game generally suited whatever mood I was in–if I wasn’t really interested in a challenge, I just zipped through the levels at the pace I desired. When I did feel a bit more competitive, I found myself legitimately challenged, failing some levels several times before learning a trick that helped me through. The levels are balanced to a point where this is possible, which makes it a more desirable play, and encourages people to go back to the game even after they’ve beaten it.
Unfortunately I was not able to test multiplayer, as I know no one else with this title (or a 3DS, actually–at least locally), but the game offers the ability to play with only one system, or locally with two. With the single 3DS, plays will match their silhouettes to the holes with one person controlling the his/her block using the control pad and the other person using the A, B, X, and Y buttons, which seems like it’d be difficult to do, especially with two players who have the same dominant hand (e.g. two right-handed players). If both players have 3DS systems and the game, however, there are two options available: tower trial and ruin run. The tower trial is like the battle side-by-side option except you get to hold your own 3DS: your job will be to match your guardian to ten holes before the other person can. In ruin run, you’ll basically race through ruins in order to collect the most hearts. These game modes sound a lot more feasible than the idea of two people using the same 3DS.
For the price you get this at–$6.99 in Nintendo’s eShop–I’d say this is a game worth getting, especially if you’re one to take bus rides or wait during errands. It’s a nice game that doesn’t require a lot of investment, it’s something you can pick up and drop as you please, and it’s enjoyable. I imagine that multiplayer is also lighthearted enough that it would be enjoyable, especially for kids, though I think this is a game that anyone who enjoys puzzles could potentially like.
Control and Gameplay: VERY GOOD
Replayability: VERY GOOD
Appeal Factor: VERY GOOD
FINAL SCORE: VERY GOOD GAME
Short Attention Span Summary
This is a good game for people who have some spare time between errands. While I personally wouldn’t have a marathon with Ketzal’s Corridors, it is enjoyable and I found myself wanting to get through it even when I wasn’t playing. The game does a decent job of setting a story up, even if it feels a bit superfluous. The graphics are surprisingly fresh and the music is enjoyable, even after playing for a while. Other than a few minor control issues, namely the inability to rotate counterclockwise, I felt the game was easy to play and well-balanced. There’s definitely room for replayability, and I could see people feeling like they can’t put this game down, even if I didn’t have that desire myself. Even though it’s basically a remake of ThruSpace, it’s original enough that it doesn’t feel anything like a port. The game, in short, is pretty good, and I’d recommend it for the $6.99 it costs to get it through Nintendo’s eShop.