Korotama is the pinball like game of balancing a ball on a balance beam and moving it through an obstacle course or into a certain hole. There have been a few games that have played with its notion over the years and Super Korotama is one of the most recent. It takes on an arcade booth aesthetic to provide some light amusement and frustration.
Aesthetic can go a long way and Super Korotama has it in spades. Taking 80’s synthwave, smashing it with Japanese culture and cyberpunk lighting, you are placed in front of your arcade booth for the entire experience. It is just as well unlockable themes come thick and fast as otherwise the environment would get stale.
You play Super Korotama with your controller analogue sticks. The left stick moves the left side of your balance beam, the right moves the right. This then slides the pinball across the beam in order to move it towards the hole lit up on the machine. Each level is a layout of different holes like a bizarre slice of swiss cheese. You need to balance the ball around all the holes to get to the right one and dump the ball in. The first few levels are quite forgiving and then things start to get very tricky.
It isn’t long before the game wants you to carefully ride the rim between two holes and that takes precision. The problem is that there is a timer counting down for each level to complete the three holes. You only need to get one done to finish and move on but you’ll not get top scores. Better scores means more level layouts unlocked and other powerups and modifers being unlocked too. One of those is a frozen mode where the glass is frosted and the ball doesn’t stay still as it slips on the ice. This is far too frantic and not at all fun for my liking but it was good for a quick laugh. Other powerups increase or reduce your ball size, freeze one side of your balance beam or stop it from every going down. They add a bit of variety and luck to things and can sometimes be a blessing as well as curse to help you through a tight spot.
My only criticism of Super Kototama is in the relative lack of levels available. There isn’t enough. I had hoped that unlocking all the different themes would be more than cosmetic and that they’d contain their own level set but it is largely just reskins. As the game is hugely down to your dexterity skill (and ability to not panic) you’ll either breeze right through the whole thing in about an hour or you’ll be stuck for ages. Initially, I thought this wouldn’t feel too small as a game but then I bought Zeke’s Peaks for PC. This is another Korotama styled game and that has loads of levels with different layouts in which shows to me just how far the idea could have been pushed. A level editor would have been fun to have too but at a small price point, I understand why it wasn’t avaialble.
Super Korotama is still addictive though. I found myself quickly hoping on whilst I was waiting for my dinner to cook each evening to just see if I could go a bit faster, make a more daring route or just clear some of later levels with a triple score. For console players, this is your only option but for PC players, have a look at Zeke’s Peaks too.
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