The Oraclos Chain Isn't the Only Thing
That Binds With Pandora's Tower.
When I say "rainfall", what does that mean to you? To Nintendo fans it meant a campaign to launch three Nintendo-published games that wouldn't hit North American shores unless their voices were heard-- thus, Operation Rainfall. Nintendo of America released the first game, Xenoblade Chronicles, though it was relegated to being sold on their online shop and through GameStop. The second was released through XSEED Games, Hironobu Sakaguchi's The Last Story. Now, like pulling teeth, the third and final game of the trio has been released, and again by XSEED Games. It's Pandora's Tower. Compared to the other two, how does this game rank?
Singing at a harvest festival, suddenly the maiden Elena is stricken with a curse. Aeron takes her in and the two head out of the kingdom with the army right on their trail, alongside a peddler named Mavda, who knows more about Elena's curse than she initially lets on. The trio leave for a safe, desolate location where they cannot be found easily, The Scar. It is there where the instructions on how to purge the curse are revealed. Armed with the Oraclos Chain, a strong will and a fierce devotion, Aeron needs to head into the Thirteen Towers, defeat each master inside, take their flesh and feed it to Elena before her curse turns her into a monster forever. Through feeding Elena the required amount of master fleshes, her curse will be removed.
|Aeron and Elena, sitting in a tree... etc.|
|Master flesh-- because the South Beach|
diet just didn't work for Elena.
|Break all the chains to reach the master's lair.|
With the Oraclos Chain, Aeron can reach places that he otherwise would not be able to. Latching onto rocks to pull himself to higher areas, throwing rocks at enemies, grabbing out-of-the-way levers to pull them and move lifts, and swinging across a chasm to another platform are all useful tasks the Oraclos Chain brings to exploring the many towers of the game.
Outside of exploration, the Oraclos Chain is an invaluable tool for combat. It can wrap up foes in its chain, allowing you to charge the attack up before ripping the chain from the enemy, causing great damage. Or, if your prefer, you can bind a foe in the chain while you let loose on them with your subweapon. You can even tie two enemies together. Attacking one will damage the other. Combat is a tad deep in Pandora's Tower, and that's thanks to a lack of lock-on. You need to attack and evade with good timing, or else you'll quickly be returning to your last checkpoint over and over again.
|Aeron does his best Scorpion impression.|
|Combat is really fun in Pandora's Tower.|
There are at least twelve playable towers in the game. The first five must be played in a linear order while the second five can be played in any order you desire. Each has its own theme, set of enemies, and challenges. A tower like Torrent Peak has a gushing waterfalls with rising rocks inside them that can be latched onto, taking Aeron to higher floors. Meanwhile, Blazing Citadel packs heat of the literal kind, with platforms that sink into the lava pits and cauldrons that will cook anyone's goose.
|Each tower has its own theme.|
A master awaits you at the top of each tower. A lot of these bosses require both brains and brawn to complete if you wish to retrieve some master flesh for Elena. (You do, don't you? Have a heart.) One master will constantly turn its exposed spot away from you. However, you can tie the boss to one of its stalactites to prevent it from turning around, allowing Aeron to attack its weak spot for massive damage. (Yes, people like me still use that reference.) A lot of the bosses are fun to fight and the battles are tests of endurance. Some, though, are just obnoxious and frustrating-- a bad combination for any game.
|Talk about a green giant!|
All of this sounds very good. After all, Japanese and PAL players have been enjoying Pandora's Tower for a year now. Unfortunately, North American gamers have been forced to wait, and that wait did not pay off. Nintendo didn't decide to publish Pandora's Tower in North America. Instead, XSEED Games took on that role. Somehow, however, in bringing the game to our side of the world, they accidentally implemented something that could be close to being called a game-breaking bug. Not just a game-breaking bug, but one that happens late in the game.
When trying to return to the eleventh and twelfth towers, the game will freeze. I tried doing a number of things to get around this bug, but as luck would have it, each time I encountered the freeze, which made me have to pull the plug on my Wii to even get the system to respond again. How this glitch was put in the North American version and nowhere else bewilders and frustrates me to no end. I was really liking Pandora's Tower up to that point, too-- wonky camera and all.
It's a shame that the North American version of Pandora's Tower has such a broken (but not impossible to pass) glitch in it. It made what was a really enjoyable action-adventure game turn into what I feel was a waste of time. Considering this is such a niche title and XSEED Games is the publisher, a fix for this issue is most likely nothing but a pipe dream. While the gameplay is unlike anything else on any platform, the frustration of running into the glitch ruins the game for me. Yes, the Oraclos Chain isn't the only thing that binds, the complete screw up by XSEED does as well.