Review: La Mulana (Wii Ware)

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Review: La Mulana (Wii Ware) 320px-La_Mulana_2012_title
If you were a Nintendo fan back in 2009 you might have heard about a little Wii Ware game called La Mulana. The game was scheduled to be released in 2009, but a long series of delays pushed it back to 2011 where it was released in Japan, and cancelled for all other territories. One year afterwards, a new developer decided to publish the game on all but dead Wii Ware and give us Westerners a chance to finally try out the game. Was it worth the wait?

The story in La Mulana may appear simple at first, but underneath holds something much more interesting. You play the role of Lemeza Kosugi, adventurer who goes to explore the ruins of La Mulana. Using your Hand Scanner, you can learn a lot of deep and interesting lore about the ruins from the many stone tablets throughout your adventure. The presentation of the story is similar to that of Metroid Prime, as it takes a backseat to the gameplay and is not shown in cutsenes or flashy cinematics. The story may not be the driving factor about the game, but slowly figuring out the secrets of the ruins is quite interesting.

Review: La Mulana (Wii Ware) 4030266463_d96d8b9d0e

The gameplay in La Mulana is very reminiscent of old-school games like Metroid and Castlevania, but with a splash of Indiana Jones. You are free to explore the large, non-linear world as you collect new items and solve the game's many puzzles. You start off with only a whip, but as you explore the ruins you'll find many other weapons and items to help you in your journey. As stated before, La Mulana is a non-linear game with no magic arrows or annoying faries telling you where to go next. Some players may be put off by this kind of style, but the game pulls it off very well and you never feel a total sense of being lost with no clue where to go. A handy warp feature also makes getting to the diferrent ares a breeze. Early in the game you are given a Mobile Super X laptop that can run various types of software. This software can do many things such as giving you a map, letting you warp to special locations, or even increasing the damage of your weapons. Some of the software has to be used in conjunction with another to be useful, so it can be fun figuring out what different combinations do. Stone tablets scattered throughout the ruins give you clues as to what you need to do in order to solve puzzles and ultimately defeat the 8 Guardians of La Mulana. Some of these hints can be rather cryptic, but with enough thinking and persistence you'll figure out what you need to do to progress. The bosses also deserve a mention, being one of the highlights of the game. All of them are quite challenging and will probably take multiple tries to beat, but they're always fun and never go into the realm of frustration. The developers managed to make the old-school style of gameplay work extremely well and though it carries the difficulty from games of old, it's also an experience you'd be hard pressed to find in most modern games.

La Mulana supports every control type available for the Wii so there's no shortage of ways to play the game. My preferred method is the Classic Controller Pro, and you'll undoubtedly find a control option that suits you. Using the Classic Controller, the B button is jump, Y is for your weapons, A is for sub-weapons, and X is for Items. The controls work very smoothly, though jumping is a bit different from a game like Mario. If you jump forward you keep your momentum and cannot alter your path in midair. If you jump straight up however, you can move Lemeza in the air with ease. This feels much like the old Castlevania games, but also less restrictive and it perfectly captures the retro feel while still making you feel in full control of your character.

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The game received a massive overhaul in the graphics department from the original PC release in 2005. The graphics are very crisp and the animations are very well done. They still manage to capture the retro aspect while also being colorful and detailed. You would think that exploring ruins would lead to a bland brown and gray color palette, but every area in La Mulana is bursting with color and is very distinct. At the same time, you never forget that these are dangerous ruins you're exploring.

From the time you first start up the game, the music in La Mulana will stick with you. All of the tracks in the game are catchy and upbeat while still giving a great sense of adventure and suiting the environment. The sound effects are well done as well and hearing the whip crack or Shell Horn sound when you find a secret never gets old. Here are some of my favorite pieces in the game.

The Surface

Mausoleum of the Giants

Spring in the Sky

La Mulana, like any other game, does have its flaws. Grinding for money and fairies can be very annoying, though you can get software to give you a specific fairy. Clues from the stone tablets are very cryptic at times and the non-linearity and high degree of difficulty could put some people off, but if you do decide to give the game a try, all those things feel very minor compared to how enjoyable finding secrets and exploring the ruins is. If you're even the slightest for of "Metroidvania" style games, I would highly recommend you check La Mulana out. For $10 you get one of the best games on the Wii and an extremely well made and memorable adventure.

Score: 9.5 out of 10

Last edited by Capn' Pancakes on Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:41 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Typo)

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Capn' Pancakes
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Review: La Mulana (Wii Ware) :: Comments

Capn' Pancakes

Post on Thu Mar 21, 2013 11:11 pm by Capn' Pancakes

Well there it is, my first ever review. I'd appreciate any feedback you guys could give and i'd love to know if you've played the game or if you plan on getting it.

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Professor Clayton

Post on Fri Mar 22, 2013 7:40 am by Professor Clayton

(Size= not (Size- Razz
I liked it, great review. You touched on all the key points. It even matches your signature. Very Happy

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True Hero

Post on Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:39 am by True Hero

Well done, Capn'. Sounds like a great game. However, aren't those fairies technically annoying, due to having to grind to pay for them? Wink

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Capn' Pancakes

Post on Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:11 am by Capn' Pancakes

Thanks, and yes it can be annoying, but there is one place where it's pretty easy to grind so I don't think it detracts from the game too much.
Later in the game you also get items which can give you a specific type of fairy so that helps as well.

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True Hero

Post on Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:31 am by True Hero

Sounds good. Say, what exactly do fairies do in the game?

PS - Your avatar is awesome.

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Capn' Pancakes

Post on Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:46 am by Capn' Pancakes

Lol, thanks.

There are 4 types of fairies. Life fairies heal you, Weapon fairies shoot flares or shurikens, Item fairies make it so all the pots and enemies drop coins, and Key fairies are needed to unlock certain areas.

Each fairy has a different animation when they spawn so you can tell which one you're getting before you actually get it.

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