doctor_kaz's Link's Crossbow Training (Wii Zapper Bundle) (Wii) review

The Zapper and the game provide an unexpectedly good combo

Ever since the first ads for the Wii came out, we have been waiting to see whether the Wii-mote would make a good point-and-shoot controller. The Wii Zapper and Link's Crossbow Training are a decent attempt to make the Wii a viable platform for first person shooters. For the most part, the package is solid, and it is made a lot more enticing by its budget price. The Zapper turns out to be a good peripheral for playing a game that is made for it, and Crossbow Training is a fun and accessible diversion that has a surprising amount of replayability.

The Zapper is little more than a plastic case for housing the Wii-mote and nunchuk, allowing you to hold them like an uzi. It is simple, but effective. It has a place for you to store the cord that connects the two, so that it won't be hanging out and get in the way. It fits well, so that you can still access all of the Wii-mote with your front hand and the nunchuk with your rear hand. Using two hands allows you to stabilize the pointer, which makes shooting objects on the screen a bit easier. It also gives shooting a more satisfying, tactile feel. If the Zapper is lacking in anything, it is something that allows you to brace it against your shoulder. You are still required to hold it in front of you without a strong way to stabilize it, which means that your targeting reticule will still drift a little bit on the screen.

Link's Crossbow Training is a quality pack-in for the Zapper. Even if the Zapper did not come with it, the game would probably be worth $15 or $20 as a stand-alone product. For most of the levels, you are just stationary shooting at targets, or on rails. Only a few levels actually require you to freely move through the environment and shoot. Anyone can pick up and play a few levels shooting at targets, which makes this game great for parties. However, it isn't just an overly simple minigames that wears out its welcome after a few minutes. There are nine chapters, each of which as three stages. Each stage is different from the last one, and they all require a huge variety of approaches and tactics. Different enemies appear and the stages get more difficult as you advance through the game, so that as you progress, you have to make quick decisions, such as prioritizing the enemies on the screen. Some enemies require a bunch of shots to destroy. Others dart around in unpredictable patterns that make them hard to hit. There are even a couple of boss battles towards the end of the game.

One feature that adds a lot of strategy to this game is the ability to build up a higher score by stringing together consecutive hits. Each target has a base number of points that it rewards, and a multiplier, which is determined by how many consecutive hits you have scored. The key to getting the silver and gold medals in each chapter is to select your shots very carefully, since the multiplier has no limits. This simple mechanic vastly changes the game, and you will often find yourself letting small targets go instead of missing them and resetting your multiplier to zero. The scoring mechanic makes for a very effective carrot-and-stick when it comes to motivating you to replay chapters so that you can acheive a higher score.

Link's Crossbow Training mostly uses assets from The Twilight Princess. By and large, it is pretty average for a Wii game. The game has a huge variety of indoor and outdoor environments, and it makes good use of the entire color palette. It certainly won't provide you with the value of a full Zelda adventure, but it helps that the graphics are pretty good.

As a full-priced game, this combination probably wouldn't be worth buying. However, for twenty bucks (or less), it is easy to recommend. You can easily get your money's worth out of a budget purchase by spending a couple of afternoons with the game. Unfortunately, the Zapper doesn't add value with a first person game that requires more advanced controls, such as Metroid Prime 3, and this is probably its biggest shortcoming. On top of that, the peripheral never really found a home after this one. Still, this game is easily worth your time.

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