|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|
There's something to be said about attempting to infuse a traditional-style game with a more modern vibe, new energy, and an upbeat presentation. Opoona, Koei's new "lifestyle RPG," is refreshing and exuberant in such a way that it's all but guaranteed to catch your attention, but whether or not it will hold it is another matter. On the surface, Arte Piazza's latest non-Dragon Quest effort contains the level of polish you'd expect from the seasoned developer.
At the game's opening, a family vacation to the planet Landroll goes awry when an unexpected emergency finds the game's namesake and chubby protagonist being jettisoned via escape pod from the family spaceship by his parents just prior to it crashing into the planet surface. Opoona wakes in a peaceful dome community to learn his parents are injured but still alive and his two siblings are missing. Apparently Landroll is no walk in the park. Ages prior, it was struck by a meteor that caused a dark force to spread across the surface of half the planet and evil monsters called Rogues to arise. Anyone venturing outside of the domed cities is prone to attack by the beasts. As Opoona, you'll enlist as a Landroll ranger to take up arms - or an orange-colored floating energy bonbon to be precise - against the Rogues while also searching for answers to what happened to your family. Along the way you'll also take on various jobs for the betterment of society and make lots of friends.
The tale is set in a vibrantly colorful sci-fi fantasy world where everything from the evil monsters you'll battle to the quirky inhabitants of the many dome colonies is an interesting combination of cute and endearing. On the whole, the game's striking visual style is overwhelmingly pleasant, yet there are a few areas where a lack of a substantive mapping system bogs down progress significantly. Outside the relative comfort the domes, the many diverse environments on Landroll provide enticing prospects for exploration. Navigating the interior of the immense, multi-level domes is the exact opposite. The complex series of futuristic halls, passages, doorways, and elevators become a major hurdle thrown at players from the onset of gameplay. In many cases it's just too easy to get lost and overwhelmed while trying to figure out where to go and what do to inside the domes, especially when the only guides you have are vague color-coded signs and a shoddy PDA map.
When you're not battling Rogues, much of your time will be devote to social pursuits and building relationships with NPC characters. Making nice with characters scattered throughout the game will eventually open up new activities and jobs. Employment serves as the main driver of progression in the game, since it lets you move on to new domes to complete specific assignments. The job system primarily serves as an optional distraction from the main quest. In a few instances they're crucial for moving forward in the story or for exploring new areas, but on the whole they can be easily avoided unless you feel like changing things up for a bit. In general, completing ranger jobs will help progress the story while most of the other professions are there just for the hell of it. The job variety is decent; you can find careers in fast-food service, fortune telling, mining, art, and many more.
Opoona's odd one-handed control scheme is a great idea for a lengthy RPG; it makes for easy snacking while level grinding or engaging in other tedious tasks (like unsuccessfully attempting to navigate the domes). You don't actually have to stop playing a game to eat your dinner either, which some will appreciate more than others. From movement to inventory management and even attacks, every aspect of the controls can be handled using the Nunchuk grip only. You'll still have to keep the thing connected to the dangling Wii Remote, which is an obvious but not entirely unexpected disappointment. The one-handed camera controls are a pain, but using the Wii Remote's d-pad to adjust the view defeats the novelty of being able to hold a cold beer (or a soda pop for those who are still under-age) in your free hand. Let's talk about camera angles. Looking around inside a dome is fine, but you're stuck without the ability to adjust the camera when outside on the map. To put it plainly this sucks. Other than that deficiency, extended play can result in a few hand cramps, but this control scheme works surprisingly well. It's a small price to pay for the freedom of an extra limb.