Moki Mokis don’t move much. They’re a floppy-eared, roly-poly species of little outer space aliens, and left to their own devices they’d just lay around in a pile all day. You, then, must be the one to move them.

Moki Moki is an eight-dollar WiiWare download that shipped into the American Wii Shop in the middle of last month, and it’s a very simple design — so simple, in fact, that it only takes two buttons to play. You press the 1 Button to rotate the stage to the left, and the 2 Button to spin it around to the right. That’s it. But that’s how you move the Mokis.

The smiling, pint-sized, bouncy creatures will spawn out of a blue portal at some position on the screen and immediately come to a stop on whatever platform’s placed underneath them. They’ll just sit there, too, unmoving while other Moki Mokis pile on top of them — until you press 1 or 2. Then, with the spinning of the platform to the left or right, they’ll obey the laws of gravity and spill in a group down the slope you’ve just created out of what was just a flat surface a moment before. With skillful balance between left spins and right spins, then, you herd the bunch toward the end goal in each stage — a swirling yellow vortex.

It’s kind of interesting. But mostly boring.

Moki Moki’s got a fine core concept, and it’s easy to understand right away — but it’s just not that engaging. You feel like you’ve seen everything there is to see in just the first few levels, and after that it’s just a tedious march to the end of the 100 included stages.

It’s not for a lack of stage variety, as the levels are diverse — some of them are twisting mazes, others have wild set pieces like giant claws and beer mugs, and others break away from the core rotating mechanic and instead use the 1 and 2 Buttons to fire rocket jets or sway a single platform back and forth.

It’s also not for a lack of challenge, as the design’s pretty ruthless right from the start — and especially so once the Moki-eating Gromblin enemies are introduced, and you have to both maneuver the good aliens through the level while also avoided the bad ones.

But all along, something just doesn’t click. That X factor that makes it all fun never arrives, and you just feel like you’re working your way through each level on auto-pilot.

It doesn’t help that you’re actually forced to lose tons of Mokis in many stages — the blue portal that spawns the creatures will almost always manufacture way more of them than you can handle, leaving the extras to cascade into death’s abyss by the dozens with nothing you can do to stop it. Maybe some incredibly practiced experts could clear some of these challenges without losing even one guy, but I’d bet good money it’s impossible. And that’s kind of insulting — games that have used a “rescue lots of little creatures” hook in the past, like Lemmings, have always been much more satisfying when you know that it’s at least possible to save them all — even if it’s tough. Here, though, it’s like the game dooms you to failure from the start and doesn’t really care about trying to replicate that important part of the experience.

And the game’s not long on lasting value, either. With each stage lasting only a minute or so and 100 levels total, you’ve probably got a little over an hour and a half before you’ve seen it all. It’s unfortunate, too, because a design like this could have been really suited to something like a level editor — the platforms are so visually simple that users could have drawn them themselves, added in the starting and end points and had their own custom challenges in minutes. Even sharing them over the Wi-Fi Connection would probably not have been that tall an order. But, alas, nothing extra like that’s included. You get 100 levels of moving Mokis, and once they’ve moved, you’re done.

Closing Comments
Moki Moki is the kind of concept that’s well-suited to a downloadable service like WiiWare, but this particular idea will never quite capture your interest. After immediately understanding the core gameplay in the first few levels, it’s just an auto-piloted march to the end — without much fun had along the way. So keep your eight dollars uninvested in this one. Let the Mokis just stay where they are.

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