|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: ArtePiazza||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: KOEI||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 25, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
February 18, 2008 - Adorable, charming, bubbly, and sweet are not words one uses frequently to describe your typical RPG game. Koei's upcoming exuberant Wii title Opoona fits this description perfectly. It offers a solid sci-fi RPG foundation that's cute and simple enough to appeal to new audiences, yet it holds enough substance to potentially engross the most seasoned of d20 throwers out there. An interesting story, colorful visuals, unique control scheme, and deep gameplay could prove to be an addictive combination when the game hits U.S. store shelves in the not-too-distant future.
The tale of Opoona - a young boy descended from a long line of peaceful warriors called the Cosmo Guards who strive for universal harmony - begins with unfortunate circumstances on a family trip to the planet Landroll. During a spacecraft emergency, he and his family members jettison from the ship in separate escape pods. When they make it to the planet, Opoona's memory is foggy, his parents are hospitalized with injuries from the crash, and his two siblings are missing. It's up to the pudgy round space boy to get a job so he can obtain authorization travel to other colonies in search of his siblings and discover what happened. Along the way he'll also have to meet new people and adapt to his strange surroundings as he settles in to his new life on the planet.
As the game is billed as a "lifestyle RPG," Opoona will allow players to devote substantial focus to social pursuits. Building relationships with NPC characters through conversation and work will increase the Tomodachi level which expands available jobs and opens new activities. In order to progress to new areas, Opoona will have to obtain different licenses by taking on a wide range of bizarre jobs. Shopping and item collecting also come into play.
Though the game is bright and colorful in nearly all respects, there is a dark side. Landroll is a unique and varied setting for the adventure to unfold, and we expect there will be some interesting plot developments regarding the story and the planet itself. Apparently, Landroll was struck by a meteor charged with crystallized dark force which caused half of the planet to be drained of all life. Traveling beyond the safety of the domes will throw Opoona into the path of numerous beasts to battle during random encounters.
The game's "active bonbon" battle system sounds pretty goofy, but it's quite straightforward and should be easy for players of all ages to pick up. The strange orb constantly floating over Opoona's head is actually called an energy bonbon - an item unique to his people. He can charge the device and fling it to damage enemies. Altering its trajectory allows players to execute more interesting attacks. Combat is in real-time, so players will be attacking, healing, using items, and unleashing special powers on the fly. The many different kinds of creatures players will be pitted against range from fairly mundane looking little critters to large, exotic beasts. All of the foes are quite colorful and retain the cute style that permeates almost every aspect of Opoona.
One of the more unique and intriguing aspects of Opoona is the way players will control the game. Almost all of the controls, aside from using the d-pad on the Wii remote for camera adjustments, are done with the Nunchuk. This essentially allows you to play one-handed. On the adventure map the analog stick is used to move Opoona around, but it also operates with catapult-like controls when charging and flinging bonbon attacks during enemy encounters. The other Nunchuk buttons are used to interact with characters, use items, and call up menus. It's a simplified approach to controls that, much like the game's overall cutesy trappings, should appeal to causal audiences. Having an extra free hand to grab a drink or eat a snack while playing has its benefits as well.
The marriage of traditional role-playing elements with a modern, futuristic tone and a light-hearted cartoony vibe may turn some gamers off, but it's bound to attract new audiences. At the very least it's an intriguing design. The simple controls could possibly make or break the title, but the overall package appears strong enough to keep players engaged through the game's 40+ hours of gameplay. The different environments are beautiful to look at, and the loveable character designs are endearing. Opoona is poised to fill the gap in RPG titles on the Wii while catering to players of all ages and interests.
CCC Staff Contributor