Review: 'Super Paper Mario' Leads Pack of New Wii Games

Nearly six months after its U.S. debut, Nintendo's Wii is still really hard to find.

That hasn't put a dent in its popularity: In March, the Wii easily outsold its flashier competitors, Microsoft's (MSFT) Xbox 360 and Sony's (SNE) PlayStation 3.

New Wii owners are probably still catching up with such gems as "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess" and "WarioWare: Smooth Moves."

Those of us who got Wiis before Christmas, though, are waiting for the next big game. Where's "Super Mario Galaxy"? Or "Metroid Prime 3"?

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Companies outside of Nintendo, who initially underestimated the Wii's popularity, have been scrambling to produce software.

Some publishers have been revamping older titles, like Electronic Arts' (ERTS) "The Godfather" or Ubisoft's "Prince of Persia: Two Thrones," with a few Wii remote features tacked on.

In time — sooner rather than later, we hope — we should be seeing more games that have been designed from the ground up with the Wii in mind.

—"Super Paper Mario" (Nintendo, $49.99): "Super Paper Mario" was originally slated for the Wii's predecessor, the GameCube, and it rarely takes advantage of the Wii's motion-sensing remote.

That's not to say it's a bad game; indeed, it's one of the most entertaining adventures to appear on the new console so far.

On its surface, it looks a lot like a classic, two-dimensional, side-scrolling action game, a la the original "Super Mario Bros."

But it has a great gimmick: With the press of a button, you can flip the action into 3D, revealing secret passages and ways to escape enemies who were unavoidable when you could only move left or right.

The developers have packed the game with all sorts of clever puzzles that require you to continually flip back and forth between 2D and 3D, making "SPM" more a test of wits than of reflexes.

The story begins with Princess Peach being kidnapped again, but the writers are fully aware of video-game clichés and create consistent merriment by subverting them.

It's one of the funniest games ever, offering equal doses of comedy and challenge.

Three-and-a-half stars out of four.

— "Bust-a-Move Bash!" (Majesco, $39.99): "Bust-a-Move," which has been around since the mid-1990s, is a classic matching game in which you shoot marbles toward the top of the screen, eliminating them by combining three or more of the same color.

In "Bash," you move the Wii remote to determine the direction in which you shoot the marble.

The control is annoyingly imprecise: At times the game has trouble picking up your movements, and sometimes it freezes entirely.

Up to eight players can join in the madness, all shooting at the same batch of marbles, but you have no idea which player is racking up the most points until the game is over.

The new game adds a few bubbles that cause your marbles to act in unpredictable ways. It also has 500 puzzle levels, in which the object is to eliminate all the marbles onscreen, and a sloppy shooting mode where you fire directly at floating targets.

The core game is still solid, but doesn't warrant the $40 price tag.

One-and-a-half stars.

— "Kororinpa: Marble Mania" (Konami, $39.99): If you can forgive its nearly unpronounceable title, "Kororinpa" is one sweet little game.

The concept is easy enough for players of any age: Tilt the remote to maneuver a ball through a 3D maze. It will remind most gamers of "Super Monkey Ball," although it doesn't have, well, monkeys.

Some of the levels are quite challenging, requiring you to quickly flip the maze so that its walls become floors.

Fortunately, the controls are very tight, so you'll never feel like you blew a level because the game didn't pick up your movements.

The biggest problem with "Kororinpa" is that it's just too short, with only 40 mazes. "Monkey Ball" vets will be able to zip through it in just a few hours, making it ideal for renting.

Two stars.