|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Capcom||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Capcom||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 23, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tom Becker
May 16, 2007 - Pop quiz, hotshot: you're attacked by a giant centipede - what do you do? Simple. You grab your hovering monkey-thing and shake him until he turns into a bell and the centipede turns into a saw. That's lesson number one in Capcom's Wii-exclusive "Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure."
Capcom recently unveiled this latest exploration into the possibilities of the Wii-mote, prompting comparisons to Gobliiins and other puzzle-solving adventures into cuteness.
The player takes the part of Zack, a would-be pirate whose treasure-hunting skills need some serious work. His quest for greater piratical skill leads him to a remote island where, legend has it, the golden hoard of Captain Barbaros lies. His only companion on his search for lucre is named Wiki. Wiki requires a bit of explanation...
He's a yellow monkey with giant ears and some sort of propellers on his back which allow him to hover like a helicopter. That's not even the weird part. When Zack picks him up and shakes him, Wiki turns into a large bell. This bell has the power to change objects and animals in the environment into useful items. The aforementioned centipede which morphed into a saw can be used to cut down a tree. This tree becomes a bridge which allows Zack and Wiki to advance to the next, hopefully treasure-laden area. I'm sure this makes perfect sense to the average 12-year-old in Japan.
The visual aesthetic lies firmly in the tradition of the Pacific Rim, with characters and environments that resemble Katamari Damacy as much as Ratchet and Clank. The world of Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure is so shiny and bulky it looks as if it was made entirely out of gummy. It's no coincidence that much of the treasure Zack and Wiki uncover is edible sweets. Even the bad guys are pretty adorable. Certain skull-faced baddies look more like little Sanrio Glenn Danzigs than actual threats to life and limb. As light as the game is on plot, preview audiences have praised the script's sense of humor. It's all awfully cute, but cuteness hasn't stood in the Wii's way yet. In fact, one might say the general appeal of the console is its accessibility and, well, how darn cute it is. The playful visual style sets the tone for the game itself.
The primary purpose of the gameplay is to allow the player a slew of new ways to use the Wii-mote. Each puzzle requires a different manipulation of the wand, sometimes literally turning the traditional use of the Wii-mote upside-down. What worked in one scenario may not work in the next, and Capcom claims there will be about 500 interactive items over approximately 20 levels. Industry professionals had a chance to see Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure at a recent preview in San Francisco. The game received high marks for innovative use of the Wii-mote in solving puzzles, the visual style, and the interface in general. A few reviewers have complained that incorporating the Nunchuk would help gameplay considerably, as manipulation of objects in Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure with just the Wii-mote can be a bit unwieldy. It's a matter of time before the player figures out just what moves to make with the Wii-mote, and patience and persistence are the hallmarks of puzzle game fans anyway. While discovering new moves for the Wii-mote may sound a bit like occupational therapy to some, the trial-and-error process is as important a part of the game as the puzzles themselves. Chances are if you bought the Wii, you have at least some interest in exploring new ways to use it.
This is, after all, the primary draw of the Wii. It's arguably the biggest single shift in computer interface since the introduction of the mouse and the GUI. Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure represents a gentle push forward in the possibilities of the Wii, if only strictly in terms of how the Wii-mote is manipulated. Capcom has publicly dedicated itself in recent weeks to not only changing their focus from Japan-only and other exclusive releases, but also investing in unique ideas rather than chasing trends. Their hope for Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure is that its heightened interactivity and novel use of the Wii-mote will advance the genre as a whole. This is certainly a refreshing change of pace from the big-budget, follow-the-leader aesthetic of the contemporary video game industry. After all, a game that is primarily devoted to the search for treasure and candy isn't going to fit the traditional mode.
As cute as Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure is, it has generated lots of enthusiasm from gamers of all ages. Some are already calling it the sleeper hit of 2007. Between its innovative use of the Wii-mote, its slightly twisted take on the puzzle genre, and its fun, crisp visuals, Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure might be the next big thing for the Wii.
CCC Freelance Writer