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ESRB RATING: E
"An anime Secret of Monkey Island?"
Zack and Wiki are members of the Sea Rabbits, despite not being lagomorphs themslves. But they are bloodthirsty pirates, and will stop at nothing to hunt down treasure. Early on in their travels they find the gold head of a skeleton named Captain Barbaros, who (despite seeming very evil and untrustworthy) convinces our heroic duo to hunt down the rest of his lost body parts, in exchange for his truly awesome pirate ship. You head out on the seas to find the treasure chests where his golden bits lay and put the man back together piece by piece, despite it not seeming like a very good idea…
First off, be very aware that this is a VERY Japanese game, with all of the horrible stereotypes that usually inhabit them. Yes, the humor is horrible, the kind a 10 year old girl would roll her eyes at. Everything’s cutesy and bright and cheery, and the pointer is a star with a bright, sparkly, starry trail following your cursor. The game’s even got the standard stupid goddamn sidekick creature thing (Wiki) that speaks in babytalk Oohs and Aahs and screams "ZACKU!" to get your attention. I swear, if I ever find the guy responsible for starting the trend of cutesy sidekick characters I’m going to hire a geisha to pull an Audition on him ("Kiri kiri kiri!")
For all crank you’re going to need to deal with that stupid bitch on the left.
It’s a big hurdle for people, I know. But if you’re confident in your sexuality and can get over it, you’ll find a really finely tuned adventure game underneath. It’s quite a challenging and rewarding one, too.
At its most basic Z&W is an old school click and point adventure game. You point with the Wii remote and hit the A button to tell Zack where to go and what to interact with. It handles beautifully with the remote and of course this is the Wii we’re talking about, so everytime you use an object you’ll hold the remote in a different way and actually perform the action yourself. For example, you’ll saw down a tree, fill a cup with water, engage in a sword fight or aim a beam of light Raiders of the Lost Ark-style. This makes for a huge difference in the game, as it’s much more fun to actually do something yourself than to just hit the A button over and over like you would otherwise. It’s also nice to not have to drag a pointer around the screen and be able to just aim wherever you want to go. (Hint to developers- the Wii would be a perfect console for a certain other duo who star in adventure games….)
Always remember to cup the balls.
In every level there’s a slew of tricky puzzles… don’t expect to fly through these, at all. These are some damn hard puzzles, and I doubt kids would get far in this game. This is the kind of adventure game that will kill you at the slightest instance, or even worse, force you to restart because you did things in the wrong order and are backed into a corner.
But besides the anime look, if there’s one problem with the game, it’s that there’s way too much trial and error. It gets very frustrating near the end where one little misstep could mean you restarting the level all over again. You can take the time out to purchase continues from a shop between levels, but that’s more annoying than anything. If you’re a gaming perfectionist like me you’ll go nuts, because there’s absolutely no way to get through this game with a perfect score unless you know exactly what to do, and do it right the very first time. You get points for evey correct action, but simply looking at an object will make you lose. Yes, your score takes a hit for experimenting. Course, they don’t mean much to your enjoyment of the game, but for anal types like me it kinda blows… and aren’t adventure games all about trial and error?
With a little more leeway given this could have been a classic, but as it is, it’s a very solid adventure game, which is incredibly rare on any consoles nowdays. Well worth checking out.
The game looks fantastic. It’s cell-shaded and cartoony, all very colorful and anime-inspired, but it actually looks like they’re using the Wii’s power for once and getting some great visuals out of it. The levels are all inventive and unique, especially my favorite one, the apparently Evil Dead-inspired cabin (complete with mounted Deer and dancing furniture!).
"We just cut up our girlfriend with a chainsaw. Does that sound… fine?"
But it’s nice to see a developer take some time to squeeze some juice
out of the Wii and ramp up the graphics. More companies should be
putting out games that look this good.
The sound design is just as nice, although of course the constant Japanese twittering of your companion gets annoying after about 3 minutes. Some people complained that there was no voice acting in this game. To those people I reply- Shut the fuck up. Voice acting in Japanese games make them infinitely worse. (Check out Marumaro in the otherwise great Blue Dragon for more on that.) Just read the dumb dialogue and be glad you don’t have to hear voice actors try to sound like 10 year olds.
There is a multiplayer mode, but it doesn’t allow much in the way of interaction for your friends. Up to three other people can help you solve the game, but their involvement is limited to highlighting objects and generally annoying you with their cursors. A nice try, but adventure games are not exactly great party games.
The main quest will take you a good bunch of hours to complete, and once you finish it there’s more secret treasure to find afterwards. I’d say getting 100% should take you around 10-15 hours, unless you hit up Gamefaqs, of course. Which you shouldn’t, because solving the puzzles is pretty much all of the fun here. There’s nothing like figuring out the key to that horrible puzzle that’s been bugging you for an hour. But there’s 20-something levels here that will stump the hell out of you, a very decent length, although of course it’d be nice to have more. Maybe for the inevitable sequel if this sells enough…
A sleeper title for the Wii. If you find yourself wishing that there was something else worth picking up for your little white box, wish no more and hunt down a copy of this game.
8 out of 10
Does this look like the face of a liar?