Rock N' Roll Climber is a Wiiware game that is supposed to emulate the effort, and hopefully the fun, of rock climbing. Having never been rock-climbing myself, I can’t say if it’s successful in that respect, but taken purely as a game, it certainly is fun and unique.
You start the game off in front of a practice wall to climb. You position yourself on the balance board (which isn’t required to play the game, but is highly recommended), you stick the nunchuck and remote in front of you, hold Z and B, and you’re ready to start. You control your character’s limbs using your own: raise your foot to make your character raise his foot, and then put it back down for him to get his footing. For the hands, you release Z or A and tilt the nunchuck or remote sideways to move the arms, and tilt backward to bend the elbow. Press and hold Z or A again to grab on to a ridge or handhold. If you’re already holding on to a ridge, tilting backward pulls you up a bit. Similarly, putting more of you weight on your toes on the balance board will make you character raise himself up.
It’s pretty technical, and for the first 2 hours, I wasn’t completely at ease with the controls. I was almost ready to call them broken. However, after that somewhat long learning curve, it “clicked” and I could finally stop fighting the controls, and instead work on my climbing strategy.
Yes, strategy. Because while on the earlier, easier levels there are plenty of ridges to grab, later on you’ll have to take more risks and position yourself very precisely in order to have a chance to get to the end. Plus, you’ll have to contend with pieces of rock that fall off after one use, or water-submerged, slippery rocks while climbing a waterfall. You’ll have to work your way up slowly and methodically… well hopefully not too slowly since your character’s energy will run out eventually.
Once you get the hang of it all, the game is quite fun, and reaching the top of a wall feels genuinely rewarding. And as I mentioned in the opening paragraph, there’s nothing like it out there. I can’t think of another game which requires you to use all of your limbs independently in this way, certainly not the balance games in Wii Fit.
The game is not a looker, and the “rock n’ roll” theme is pretty goofy, but if the idea behind this game appeals to you, I highly recommend it. Getting to the credits shouldn’t take more than 3 hours, but there is plenty of content to keep you busy after that. I have yet to unlock 2 secret characters, and the 6th and final wall to climb. Each of those walls offers 6 different courses, for a total of 36 courses and who knows how many bruises and broken bones.
I've been thinking about this one for a while, but can never justify a purchase (what is it, 1000 points?). Good review, though. It makes me want to try it out. The more use I can get out of my balance board, the better.
Pandareus (correctly) called me out for not commenting on this review after I requested it, so here I am.
Seems like there's a lot more content than I thought, which is nice. This is definitely on my list, once I dig out my balance board (and find out if the batteries have leaked acid, a la my Virtual Boy *sob*).
I've also never been rock climbing, but I kind of went mountain climbing in India when I was six. The mountain wasn't that large, but I did almost tumble to my death. And I also rode up a mountain path on the back of a small mule. It was fucking SCARY. So steep.
Oh, plus I got sucked a couple of feet into the mud on the side of a rice paddy (and lost my favorite shoes).
@Jargon Some of the mini-games in Wii Fit are actually pretty fun. And very novel.