Zeroing in On Adventure
The original Elebits released rather close to the launch date of the Wii. It was an overlooked but entertaining game in its own right. The formula was a lot like Katamari Damacy in the concept that you sucked up Elebits to have your capture gun capacity to "grow bigger" in order to access new areas of the game's levels. With Elebits: The Adventures of Kai and Zero, this gameplay hook is essentially tossed to the wayside for a more Legend of Zelda-like approach. Does the Elebits universe lend well to this type of game?
The Adventures of Kai and Zero starts where the original Elebits left off. In the original Elebits for Wii, our heroine Kai's town lost power. In her world, technology is powered by creatures known as Elebits. Just think of them as if electricity were cute creatures to love and squeeze. Kai captured a wide assortment of Elebits using a special Elebit-grabbing gun, and she restored power to her town after taking down the Elebit causing all the trouble, Zero. It turns out Zero was just lonely, so Kai befriended Zero, and now the two are inseparable buddies. This DS sequel has Kai and Zero inadvertently traveling on an intergalactic bus, righting wrongs in various worlds as the two try to make their way back home.
In Elebits: The Adventures of Kai and Zero, the gameplay is heavily focused around super-powered Elebits known as Omega Elebits. The goal is to find these special creatures in order to access previously unreachable areas. There's over forty Omega Elebits to track down, and the majority of them are needed to progress through the game. Fire Omegas can light torches and burn various twigs blocking paths, Land Omegas can dig holes revealing hidden grotto and other locations, Ice Omegas can freeze patches of water for a limited time for Kai to cross, and so on. The aim of most areas is to find as many Omega Elebits as possible, solving puzzles with the ones you already have acquired in order to solve the task required of Kai and Zero.
Forget everything you know about the original Elebits. The Adventures of Kai and Zero is almost nothing like the previous adventure. Sure, you can capture Elebits to give watts to your capture gun which can then open doors and pull switches given your gun has enough watts to do so, but the gameplay focuses more on an adventure aspect than the Wii Elebits. In fact, it's closer to a Zelda game than anything else. Omega Elebits are your items like bows, boomerangs, and bombs are Link's arsenal. The game has seven areas to explore that are split up by a world map. By the end of the game you can return to any world you've previously visited on the fly. Each world has a boss encounter which rewards Kai with a health boost much like Zelda's heart containers.
Speaking of boss encounters, this game is packed with brain busters both in battle and in exploration. Boss battles usually take place on both screens forcing the player to know their Omega Elebits and to utilize them well. Again like Zelda, usually a certain item/Omega Elebit at a certain moment of time will damage a boss. Many later encounters force the player to use an arsenal of different Omegas in order to win the day. There aren't really battles outside of bosses. There's dangerous Elebits that will attack Kai if provoked, but they can be sucked up with her capture gun. The main hazard when exploring come from environmental hazards such as lava and falling rocks, and from dangerous-to-touch black Elebits. Outside of battle, many puzzles loom which will definitely test one's mettle. These aren't simply "hit switch, open door" challenges either. The latter challenges come not from bosses but from the brain-busting puzzles the game throws at you.
Unfortunately, what adventure there is of Kai and Zero is relatively short. The journey can be completed in less than ten hours. There's bonus and optional Omega Elebits that can be gathered by finding them in secret locations or by completing certain in-game tasks including Dewy from Dewy's Adventure. There's also numerous upgrades found in the wild that will boost the amount of watts Kai's capture gun can hold in addition to three Pink Elebits that are hidden in each world. When all three are gathered, they unlock a health-increasing guard boost to collect. Thankfully, all collectibles are listed on the world map screen, so it's easy to see what you've missed.
Elebits is controlled with the d-pad and stylus in tandem. The top screen shows the area map while the bottom screen shows all of the action. You tap Elebits to freeze them, and tap on your Omega Elebit to suck them all up before they escape. You can interact with trees to shake them, poke rocks to uncover hiding Elebits, and move around objects with ease. The shoulder buttons call forth your equipped Omega Elebit's power, and tapping or pressing on the screen will allow you to use it. You can only have access to five Omega Elebits in the quick select tab located at the bottom right corner. This means you'll be constantly switching out Omegas which becomes a swift hassle later on in the game when you need to use six different Omegas at a time but are limited to selecting five from the quick change menu.
Elebits runs rather well with little in the way of slowdown-- though things can get a bit hectic with a lot of Elebits on the screen at the same time. The 2D sprites look gorgeous as do the backgrounds and worlds. Everything looks endearing, and that's all one can ask for from a game of this type. There's a little voice acting, but that only occurs from Kai during specific still-frame cut-scenes. It's just as bad as the original Elebits, so get ready for some nostalgia. The soundtrack is adequate, but there's not a lot that jumps out this time around.
All-in-all, Elebits: The Adventures of Kai and Zero is a worthwhile journey to take with the pair. The adventure is pretty short, however, running only at ten hours. Those looking for Zelda-experience on the DS and didn't find a lot to love with Phantom Hourglass may find a lot to love with Elebits of all games. It's the same formula just with a different coat of paint. Those expecting the Wii original shrunk down to the DS will surely be disappointed.
[SuperPhillip Says: 7.75/10]