|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Konami||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Dec 2006||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|Review by Vaughn||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Vaughn Smith
I never thought I'd see a First Person Shooter that was geared to kids and completely innocent, but Konami has managed to create just that. Don't worry moms and dads and all the rest (thanks Hoyst Gnip!), Elebits is a cute title that doesn't involve mass-elimination of the Elebit species and while I'm usually the first guy to head in the opposite direction of something like this, Konami has captured me. It's truly a game that the whole family can enjoy, not only because of the family friendly atmosphere and energetic gameplay, but because 4 players can play at once (but you really won't want to after trying it...read on). Gamers can even create and share player-designed environments over WiiConnect24.
Elebits is like a game of virtual hide and seek, where your goal is to explore the environments to locate little electrical beings called "Elebits". Finding them powers up your capture gun, while your ultimate goal is to restore the world's power supply - which, the game explains at the start, has been depleted because the little magical energy beings that provide energy to our world, have decided to stop. As Kai, the son of two renowned scientists, you'll have to set things straight by locating them all. This is easier said than done but hey, that makes for an entertaining experience.
While Twilight Princess gave us the ability to sword fight and sling arrows with the Wii-mote, Elebits gives us the power to lift and throw objects all over the place. It may sound limiting in size and scope but it works wonders thanks to the excellent design at the core of the Elebits. At it's heart, Elebits is a puzzle game set in a 3D environment. You'll need to find Elebits to restore power to various appliances and other machinery, to locate more devious Elebits. It's the puzzle element that elevates Elebits from ennui (look it up) and redundancy. In conjunction with reaching various objectives, you'll also be forced to achieve these goals within a certain time limit ( 5 - 20 minutes) as well adhere to some rather inexplicable rules occasionally such as keeping the noise and destruction to a minimum. You might have to attempt a few levels once or twice due to failure, but the level of difficulty is pretty accessible to all ages.
You'll start off on your adventure inside, using the unique gun to move smaller objects around the house in an attempt to locate the little buggers and zap them to harness their power. As you advance and capture elebits, you'll find they come in different varieties and some just happen to increase the power of the gravity gun. Powering up allows you to move larger items. At the start of the game you'll move boxes and lamps, but by the end you'll be hoisting trucks and buildings, which is not only cool but a satisfying and (somewhat) logical progression of power. Games that allow the player to increase his powers exponentially over the course of the adventure provide are just more interesting, when compared to games that give you everything from the start. There's just nowhere to go from there and the game can get repetitive and boring rather quickly. Not so for Elebits since you'll start out in a small environment with a weakened gun and eventually end up on the city streets moving the aforementioned objects as if they were dixie cups. Sweet!
What makes the Elebits world so much fun is the sheer level of mayhem and chaos you can create. Making a virtual mess is surprisingly fun especially since you don't have to clean it up. The physics engine is well done, just not overly realistic since large objects will bounce off other objects in the same manner as smaller objects. Oh well, it is a game afterall.
Your window to the wild world of Elebits is all via the Wii-mote and nunchuck. You'll use your nunchuck for movement within the world as well as using the Z and C buttons for Y axis functionality (up and down viewing). The cursor on the screen is controlled by the Wii-mote and you'll be able to zap them and toss objects with the A or B button. Playing with my arm extended for long periods of time (ala Call of Duty 3) took its toll after awhile and that's the only slight drawback with the control scheme. Elebits is a game that wouldn't have been possible on any other system aside from the DS or the PC, since you'll require the pinpoint accuracy and speed that only a cursor controlled in realtime would provide. Konami tweaked the control to almost perfection since getting the interaction down was an absolute necessity for a game of this nature. The only area in which the control fails is when opening doors. Opening a door requires a series of movements and gestures which to execute correctly is like trying to remember that secret handshake you and your friend made after a night of heavy drinking, but someone is standing over you with a gun, pointed at your head who will kill you if you don't remember it - yeah, it's like that only somehow LESS fun.
Unfortunately Elebits didn't receive the same amount of TLC in the graphics department. Aside from the lighting effects for the capture beam, the rest of Elebits visuals are generic and almost N64 quality - certainly not what you'd expect on a system roughly twice as powerful as the Cube. The objects you'll interact with rate higher on the "eye candy" gauge than the environments but that's not really saying much. It didn't bother me that I wasn't getting a glitzy presentation though, since the gameplay is what Elebits is all about. Others won't be so forgiving though. The music in Elebits is quite engaging but the voiceacting is putrid - I had no idea Ben Stein opened an acting school. It's godawful. Maybe there will be a cheat code that will add some inflection to the spoken dialogue. That'd be a first.
The pace of the game can be quite frenetic with one player, but that increases dramatically when 2 or more players join the hunt. In fact the 4-player game is so over the top, it's not even very much fun. The multiplayer game is a competition to see which player can capture the most Elebits and collect the most wattage, but the catch is that only player 1 can move - the rest are resigned to just shooting the capture guns. What sounds like fun is reduced to madness within seconds of playing as you realize that A) it sucks not being able to move B) it's impossible to tell who's beam is who's and C) the lights and action are so manic that Player 4 just had an epileptic seizure and now you have to call his mom. I honestly have to say that I hated the multiplayer game. I think it's a shallow mess tossed in at the last minute. It's neither fun nor playable. Avoid it unless you wish to succumb to dementia.
The ability to create your own Elebits environment is far more enjoyable than playing with others. This mode allows you to place the elebits in the levels taken from the single player game. You can place elebits and objects within the stage quite easily thanks to the intuitive interface. You can then share with your friends via WiiConnect24, but you should note that they'll need the game to play them. Duh.
As mentioned Elebits takes full advantage of the Wii control scheme and runs with it, distancing itself from the collection of rushed ports available at launch. It's not a particularly long game, but it is addictive and fun. I'm not quite sure it will have the longevity of quirkier titles like Katamari Damacy for example, as it sort of reminds me of Toy Commander for the Dreamcast; interesting premise and cool gameplay, but looking back on it in a year or two, you'll be saying "meh". For now though Elebits is here, it's unique to the Wii and it is fun to play. Alone.
CCC Site Director
The Elebits are on strike and you'll need to find a "wii" to motivate them back to work. by Ryan Schultz
From the get go, Nintendo has stated that their new system, Wii, will be all about gaming fun. Konamis quirky title Elebits is a game that could very well define the word fun. Imagine if you will a cross between Katamari Damacy, Half-Life 2, and Pikmin, and you may start to understand the premise behind this odd game.
Being Produced by Shingo Mukaitoge, Elebits is the story of, well, the Elebits, a small impish race that provides the world with energy. One day, the Elebits decide to go into hiding, plunging your world into darkness. Now its up to you to find these little creatures and restore the worlds energy. Its how you find the little rascals that makes this game so unique.
The game is set up like a first person shooter, and your main weapon is a gun that lets you pick up any object you see and fling it around, similar to the gravity gun in Half Life 2. The Elebits hide underneath these objects, which range from everything to pots and pans, to refrigerators, and even entire houses. The act of flinging objects through the air is easily done with the wii-motes pointer function and you move around the area by using the nunchuk attachment. According to the games producer in an E3 interview, Elebits will feature a changing environment, in which by collecting more of the little creatures will open up new areas to explore. One specific example of this could be seen with a toaster. Once you have collected enough of the Elebits, their power would activate the toaster, popping out even more of the strange creatures.
On the graphics front, Elebits could use a bit of polish. The textures seem very blurry and have almost a painted on look. The polygons feature some horrible jaggies as well. However, the game was in a very early demo stage when shown at E3 and hopefully the development team has had time to polish up the visuals before the games release.
For those of you who are looking for a fun and accessible game to sink your teeth into, Elebits looks to be like the game for you. Its interesting control mechanics and seemingly open gameplay should make it one of the more interesting launch titles for the Wii when it launches this fall.
CCC Freelance Writer