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Jelly Belly: Ballistic Beans is the heavily branded, although annoyingly addictive pachinko come pinball game staring the fruity flavoured gelatin snacks. In what turns out to be not a million miles from the crowd pleasing Peggle: Dual Shot DS, Jelly Belly: Ballistic Beans is just as moreish as the edible product.
Mini games come in a variety of shapes and sizes. What unites the genre is the speed with which players can pickup the games and the relativley short time requried to complete a level or two.
Jelly Belly: Ballistic Beans is unique not only because of it's franchise, but also as it adds a fresh spin on the firing balls into a playfield genre. Sitting in amongst the Peggle, Pinball and Pachinko games it edges more towards the skilled end of the spectrum than other simpler experiences. Not only do you have to aim carefully to collect the right tokens, but you also need to keep an eye on sucking the recently eject bean back into your holster. Add to this the careful use of the different coloured beans, and various bonus achievements to go for and there is more here than first appears.
To play, the player simply aims the Peggle cannon up the table using Wii-mote pointing and presses a button to fire. The game then progresses through the ingenuity of level design and specific timed challenges on each level.
The game includes around 30 songs from all three High School Musical films, which are unlocked by scoring enough on each level. Along the way you can choose which dancer you want to control, and dress up with clothing that is won with good performances.
You can play alone or with one other player. The two player game provides both co-operative and competitive dancing. As you play through the songs each player is assigned separate moves and if they perform well enough they can trigger a special move that blocks out the other player from scoring - whereupon they have to shake their Wii-mote to break free.
Younger players will like the brightly coloured Jelly Belly: Ballistic Beans theme. Those that get to grips with the Wii-mote pointing controls will soon find themselves egging their fruity projectiles into the right slots and pins. In our household, the younger members struggled for a while to translate pointing to aiming, but still managed to outscore the more able grown ups.
Each table needs to be player to completion before its score is registered. Although early challenges are simple and short, later levels can last longer - particularly so as players get more proficient with the cannon firing and collection.
As we said, younger and novice players may find the Wii-mote pointing a little frustrating. There is no onscreen guide to indicate where the pointer is, just the direction of the cannon. This can lead to much confusion and would seem to be an ill advised design choice when there is a much simpler tilting mechanism that could have been used in stead.
Apart from this, there develops a simple game that novices and youngsters will enjoy. Although the type of game often seen on the PC, it's presence on the Wii makes it a much more social experience that can be had in the lounge rather than the office. Experts will no doubt balk at the gimmicky nature and early simplicity but, as often is the case, perseverance reveals much challenging Pachinko style fun.
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