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ESRB RATING: E
When watching Nintendo’s E3 presentation I was amazed by the idea of the Wii Zapper. A perfect accessory to a console that is perfect for shooting games. I couldn’t wait for it to hit the market. After my holiday hiatus (meaning: let someone else, for once, foot the video game bill), the Wii Zapper was on the top my list of new products to try.
Included with the Wii Zapper is Link’s Crossbow Training, a demo game that I hoped would be as fun as Wii Sports and not the dog molester that is known as Wii Play.
Guide Link, the star of the Legend of Zelda series, through nine, three-part levels (twenty-seven stages in total for the Harry Lockharts out there). The goal of each level is earn points, to qualify for medals (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum).
The game takes place in the Hyrule of the Twilight Princess (but in a good way). Each level has three timed stages, Target Shooting, Defender and Ranger.
In Target Shooting, Link is stationary and the goal is to hit classic bullseye-targets, or in one stage, flying skulls.
In Defender, Link can rotate 360 degrees, but not change position. Here, Link defends a point by shooting at a group of enemies, whether they be snow wolves or stalfos (skeleton monsters).
In Ranger, Link, by using the nunchuk analog stick, has the full range of motion. In these stages Link is supposed to kill a certain amount of enemies like skulltulas (giant spiders) or even a boss battle against a Darknut (giant armored knight).
The key strategy of the game is accuracy, because of one reason, the accuracy multiplier. For each consecutive target Link hits, it adds another multiple. For example, hitting the third target in a streak receives 3x the amount of points as the first target. The multiplier can go up to 36X (or even beyond, just haven’t gotten there). Because the stages are timed, it’s better to skip a few difficult targets and nail the sure things; especially when the bonus for eliminating all the targets is only 5000 points, which feels like finishing a massive collection mission only to find out that the reward is getting a Tingle trophy added to the gallery section.
Link is equipped with three different crossbow-bolts, normal, exploding (equiped by holding the trigger) and rapid-fire (acquired by shooting a glowing enemy), which leads to is the major flaw of the game.
While the manual says that a bolt is fired when the trigger is released, it’s actually when the trigger is pressed. This set-up has lead to many a ruined streak. While not game-breaking, its an annoyance.
Rapid-fire, additionally, is a score killer. While quickly eliminating a horde of enemies is beneficial, inevitably, the rapid-fire will lead to misses, crushing the accuracy multiplier. By the end, I did everything in my power to avoid the rapid fire enemies.
As for the gameplay, I was pleasantly surprised given my two handicaps, a) since switching the Wii to my HD television, the cursor shakes like Muhammad Ali and b) I unintentionally do a great Michael J. Fox impression. Those factors combined, I figured I’d have Stephen Hawkin’s free throw percentage. While I wasn’t that bad (seriously, the Knicks should just foul him from the moment the game begins), the Wii remote is very sensitive, but not punishing (insert penis joke here). While sensitivity isn’t exactly crucial for this game, the Wii Zapper is clearly capable of carrying a more sophisticated shooter in the future (which I will love, but suck at).
The most difficult aspect is getting used to having full control over Link during the Ranger levels. It’s a challenge but it’s a happy challenge as this demonstrates a step forward for the console shooting genre.
Graphics and Sound
As mentioned above, the game takes place in Twilight Princess Hyrule, which upon second glance, is a very nice looking world. It actually, made me wonder, why I hadn’t revisited Twilight Princess, until I remembered the utter tedium of the game (it’s forgettable as my prom night, trust me).
But for a demo game, Nintendo did put their entire tight Wii-Fit ass into the project, which is pleasing.
Demo games are often disposable, but Wii Sports set a very high-quality standard that all demo games should attempt to attain. While Crossbow Training isn’t Wii Sports, it is definitely a quality title and much of that comes from the difficulty and the replay.
The game fits into the saying, it takes minutes to learn and hours to master. Finishing the all levels will probably take a hour and a half, but gaining nine platinum medals will take a significant amount of time. However the game is not so impossibly difficult that leaves no desire to master it. On each go ‘round I noticed spots where I could see room for easy improvement and that’s where mastery lies.
While having some flaws, Link’s Crossbow Training is a quality demo game that will offer a great view into the functioning of the Wii Zapper.
In terms of the Wii Zapper itself, Nintendo has done a fine job in molding this piece of plastic. It’s silly to offer such praise to a Nintendo piece of plastic, especially when most describe every other Wii attachment (all non-Nintendo) as dog shit. But such is life.
I know I’ve done this before, but I’ll say it again now, Nintendo has to adult-up for once and make a mature shooter. Put together a matchmaker system, produce a headset and just make the ton of money that’s sitting out there on the table.
Wii Zapper: 8.5 out of 10
Link’s Crossbow Training: 7.5 out of 10