Thursday, May 14, 2009

Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure (Wii) Review

Treasure Island Revisited

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It's really difficult to recommend great third-party titles to a Wii owner. Mostly due to the fact that most third-party Wii games are crappy, rushed Playstation 2 ports or plain shovelware. And like a treasure chest buried under a desert of third-party mediocrity, you have a title like Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure.

This quest for booty stars a lovable duo of Zack, a chocolate bar-devouring young lad, and his trusty companion, the robotic monkey known as Wiki, who recently joined up with fellow treasure hunters, the Sea Rabbits. High in the sky and itching for some treasure, the crew's plane is attacked by a rival gang of booty-lovers led by the vivacious as well as beautiful Captain Rose. A tutorial mission follows which puts players into Capcom's world of seeking gold. This mission follows their exploits of abandoning the falling plane, safely reaching the ground, and coming across a mysterious treasure. The contents of this chest reveal the gold talking skull of the legendary Captain Barbaros who promises the pair his legendary pirate ship as long as Zack and Wiki retrieve all of his missing parts to make him whole again.

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The plane! The plane!

Zack & Wiki plays as a point and click puzzle game. You guide Zack by pointing and clicking an area on the game screen, and Zack moves toward it. Each level has a treasure chest usually right out in the open, but there's always one or a series of clever obstacles standing in your way of grabbing your goodies. This is where your brainpower and a little ingenuity comes into play. Zack would be in trouble without his cheeky companion, Wiki, as Wiki can be used as a bell to itemize various enemies. Centipedes can be transformed into saws to cut down trees to create a bridge, snakes can be turned into grabbers to reach keys that would otherwise be unreachable, and frogs can made into bombs-- just a few of the examples that enemies can be morphed into. You won't be getting anywhere with that guard out in the open, so why not itemize a frog, put the bomb down a water chute, and have it explode-- knocking out the guard? Don't worry, the real solution wasn't spoiled. There's a wide array of items for Zack to come across and use, and utilizing them at the right time is the difference between completing a stage or needing to redo it all over again.

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Zack will come in contact with many items to assist him.

Now the Wii remote isn't simply used to point Zack around. You'll be utilizing that a lot, too. There's a plethora of various uses for the Wii remote. You'll be pulling the remote towards you and back to saw down trees, you'll be holding the remote upright for it to function it like a lever, and you'll even be playing the remote like a flute in one stage. There's many creative uses for the Wii remote, and while I'd like to say they all work well-- many of them don't. The motion controls are just unresponsive, and it can get quite frustrating waggling the Wii remote around without having any useful output on the screen. Otherwise, using the Wii remote is seldom that large of annoyance, and you won't need precision motion controls at most occasions. The sound and rumble feedback from the controller makes it so sawing logs isn't as boring as watching someone figuratively saw some logs.

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Think you know the solution? Think again.

Many stages follow one simple rule: there's one right way to solve the stage, and there's countless others that are just wrong. Sometimes, doing things the wrong way will just have Zack showing a display of dissatisfaction. Other times, you'll be treated with a game over. A lot of the game is trial and error. Don't be surprised if you think you've got the stage figured out only to find out your way isn't the way the game wants you to solve the puzzle. Additionally and especially in later levels, you'll mess up so bad that you won't even be able to advance without starting the stage all over again. Being forced to do a stage all over again won't be a foreign concept to you as you hammer hours into Zack & Wiki.

Then there's the awesome boss battles-- a part of the game I sincerely enjoyed. These range from outsmarting the village chief to aiming mirrors to shoot and reflect a laser into a gigantic snow lion. These battles will put your mental mettle to the test as there's seldom more than one way to tackle a foe.

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There's no time to chill out; there's treasure to be had!

There's a wide array of themed locales to plunder from grassy jungles to erupting volcanoes. Completing levels unlocks new, tougher challenges. And you're ranked for every little excursion you have via HirameQ-- a pun on a Japanese term. HirameQ is basically how clever you're being in a level. Zack & Wiki lets you know if you're starting to solve the puzzle the right way by awarding you with HirameQ throughout a level. Itemize the right enemy? You'll probably get 1000/1000 HirameQ for that action. Use that item at the right time? You'll get 3000/3000 HirameQ on atop of the 1000 you've already earned. The level sum of all your HirameQ will give you a rank. Replaying levels to get the highest amount possible will give perfectionists the ability to go hog wild.

Not only are their high HirameQ scores to achieve, but after you've completed the game once, you'll receive cryptic clues as to hidden treasures in the stages you've completed. There's also very cool Capcom treasures to find which can be a pain in the rear to discover on your own, but once you do you'll be able to read up on a quick fact about your favorite classic Capcom stars from Mega Man to Arthur from Ghost 'N Goblins.

While you're not bursting your brain vessels in the game's numerous stages, you can chill at the Sea Rabbits' headquarters where you can check your status and game totals, send a flunky out to search for treasures, or purchase hint tickets and extra lives from an angelic puppet.

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Maybe Zack could play for Mario's team?

What I would consider the game's most important treasure is the consistent visual as well as comedic charm that stems from the beginning of the game and goes with you till the very end. There's just so much personality in the characters and in the environments themselves. There's no voice acting, but you will hear grunts and other quick clips. The only downside here is the very annoying "Zaakkuuuuuuuu" cry from Wiki for when you retry a mission or for when Wiki calls Zack early on in the game. The music is fun to listen to, but for some stages that you'll be in for upwards of an hour, it will get repetitive.

Zack & Wiki is the type of niche game that the mainstream gamer will miss out on, and it's unfortunate. That's what happens when you don't market a game. However, for those that do pick up on Zack & Wiki, you will indeed come upon one gaming treasure that many third-parties on Wii can only hope to dig up. There's so much charm here, and so much fun. If you don't find doing over levels all over again and initiating times of trial and error, you'll want to look elsewhere. The rest of us, however, can enjoy this fantastic offering from Capcom. This is one type of booty that I will graciously hit over and over again.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]

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