Tataite! Mogupon Playtest
It's like whack-a-mole, but without the whacking!
The latest in experimental WiiWare software arrived today in the form of Agenda's Tataite! Mogupon. "Mogupon" is Japanese for whac-a-mole, and this game most certainly does have moles in need of a serious whacking.
To do your whacking, you make use of the Wiimote in IR pointer mode. You move a virtual hammer around by pointing with the Wiimote. To whack a mole, you bring the Wiimote up and then down, as you would a real hammer.
The game's main adventure mode, playable by up to two players, offers something a bit different from your typical whack-a-mole experience. The moles in this mode don't just emerge from the ground. Instead, they appear in random locations and run about the screen depending on the theme of the stage.
This mode has four stages, jungle, outer space, Japan, and horror, with each stage lasting a couple of minutes or so. The jungle stage is a trip through a jungle, with moles appearing from the surrounding trees and swinging about on vines. Outer space has moles riding around on asteroids and space craft. Japan is set in an old style Japanese mansion and has you whacking away at samurai moles. Horror has something far worse -- ghost moles!
From the start, you have access just to the jungle stage, playable on the easiest setting. Clear it, and you can advance on to an intermediate difficulty and access the outer space stage. Each stage has three levels of difficulty, changing both the layout, and the position and ferocity of the moles. In some areas, some moles will even attack you!
Given the linear progression through the stages, and the scripted appearance of the moles, the adventure mode feels like a light gun shooter, only with you swinging the Wiimote instead of firing.
The two other included modes are more traditional whac-a-mole experiences, with the moles appearing from holes in the ground. In the survival mode, you start off with just three holes. As you advance, more holes appear, making it more difficult to hit all the appearing moles.
The competitive multiplayer mode also has moles exclusively emerging from the ground. Here, you and up to three others compete to be the first to strike down moles. This mode has items, including a bomb that disables your hammer temporarily, although these can be toggled off.
During the competitive mode, the CPU can be used in place of rivals for players on their own or lacking in numbers. Here, the CPU can be set to three difficulty levels. This didn't prove particularly fun regardless of the CPU level. I assume the experience would improve greatly with actual human foes, though.
Agenda has put quite a bit into this 500 WiiPoint title. While lacking Wi-Fi play, the game does have Wi-Fi rankings, complete with a score viewing system that actually works (take notes, Hudson!). The rankings could heat up thanks to a scoring system that appears to reward players both for uninterrupted whacks and for timing. Agenda has also given the game the equivalent of achievements -- text badges that can be unlocked by performing secret tasks.
In terms of presentation, Tataite! Mogupon is top notch. The game has a colorful, cartoon look to it. It's not quite flash level in terms of clarity, but it does come close. The moles are the main highlight, and their antics may be worth the asking price alone. The game also offers up a clean, fast interface for its menus.
Unfortunately, there's a major flaw with Tataite! Mogupon. It turns out that virtual mole whacking just isn't all that fun. The game feels more like a point and click game rather than a real whac-a-mole game.
There appear to be multiple reasons for this. The movement of your hammer is too sensitive, meaning you don't need to make big motions in order to aim and strike at a mole. For a short thrills game like this, big motions would be a plus.
There's also the problem of feedback when actually striking moles. The Wiimote makes a neat little sound and rumbles a little, but this obviously isn't comparable to actually bashing down on something with a real hammer.
Perhaps the biggest problem, however, is that there's no depth recognition. You don't need to take account of how far into the screen the mole may be.
I'm not sure which of these problems are inherit to the Wiimote, and which could be resolved with a more creative control scheme.
Despite the otherwise solid package, I'm not sure if I can recommend Tataite! Mogupon for general players due to the unexciting gameplay. However, those who have 500 WiiPoints to burn may want to make the download for the antics of the moles and for the score attack possibilities.