|System: Wii (WiiWare)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ghostfire Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ghostfire Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 25, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
One of the unfortunate side effects of being a hardcore gamer tends to be an eventual reduction in physical activity - particularly in the later portion of the year when publishers start cranking out all the hot holiday releases. Ask yourself this: would you rather put the controller down, peel yourself off the couch for a few hours, and take a lengthy nature hike under the wide open sky this weekend or spend the entire day in a dimly lit bedroom hunting down every last star in Super Mario Galaxy? For gamers who fall under the latter category, Ghostfire Games has a fun and affordable answer to remedying your squishy arm meat.
Yes, for only 1,000 Wii Points, you too can stand in front of your TV executing goofy dance moves along to thumping techno tracks with a virtual robot pal. Part music rhythm game and part robo exercise dance-a-thon, Helix is an unusual addition to the slate of independent games on WiiWare. The game certainly has the potential to deliver a rigorous upper-body workout. At times it may feel more like work than play; but once you get into the groove and start sweating, it's hard to stop.
As far as rhythm games go, the gameplay is extremely easy to pick up and definitely tough to master. Grabbing a Wii Remote in each hand, you'll load up one of the game's many dance tracks and follow the directions of a skinny humanoid robot - a dance machine, if you will - in time with the music. The robot will first demonstrate sequences of moves along to the beat, and then you have to execute the same moves while following a timing indicator that scrolls across the top of the screen. It equates to a dancing call-and-response. Messing up a move will deplete you're health bar slightly and knock your combo meter back down to zero, while successfully completing sequences of moves will restore your health slightly and increase your score multiplier. The trick is to make it to the end of the song with the fewest mistakes possible, since doing well will unlock additional songs to play. The potential for complete failure only really presents itself when playing on the hardest difficulty.
Initially, your robot buddy will only give you a few moves at a time with plenty of space to memorize and input each move. More and more moves are added to the series, and at a faster pace, as you progress to different songs and difficulty settings. It can be tricky to keep up at times. You're often given one series of moves to perform only to be forced to pay attention to the robot's next oncoming string while you're simultaneously still dealing with executing the first set. This isn't a problem early on, but it can make the gameplay quite frantic - not necessarily in a bad way - on higher difficulty levels.
The game's dual Wii Remote control scheme is a cool concept that works better than you might expect - for the most part. It's surprising more developers haven't found creative ways to incorporate both Wii Remotes simultaneously in a single-player experience. Hat's off to Ghostfire Games for trying something new; Helix's controls wouldn't have jived any other way. There are no buttons to push; you mainly end up thrusting whatever attached limb is holding the corresponding Wii Remote in whatever direction the robot tells you. The moves themselves are varied. You'll be throwing punches and uppercuts, extending your arms in various directions, moving both limbs together, and striking different poses.
It's possible to cheat slightly, since the default level of control precision isn't always picky about whether you're shaking the remote in a direction or extending your arm fully. However, cheating isn't entirely foolproof, you'll still miss some maneuvers, and it's far more rewarding and fun to do the moves like you're supposed to. After you get accustomed to the basic moves, you can calibrate the game to register moves to match your own specific subtle variations.