plasticpals's Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure (Wii) review

Frustrating, but ultimately enjoyable

Capcom took a risk by releasing a point-and-click adventure title about a year after the release of the Nintendo Wii.  Starring the young treasure-loving Zack and his strange sidekick Wiki, the pair soon find the golden skull of Captain Barbaros, a legendary pirate.  In return for finding and reassembling the rest of his scattered remains, Barbaros offers Zack his own ship, a deal that’s too good to refuse.  Their globe-spanning adventures take them to Mayan jungle ruins, fiery lava pits, frozen castles, foreboding towers, and more over the game’s 24 puzzling levels.

Game Play

Point-and-click adventure titles were quite popular on computers back in the ’80s and ’90s with many classics developed by Sierra and Lucas Arts.  Players were presented with a series of mysteries that needed to be solved by finding and using the correct item at the right time to progress the story.  Often the puzzles had obscure solutions, and one false move would mean instant death.  Zack and Wiki takes this formula and spices it up with the many Wii remote actions you can perform.  Almost all the levels have one large treasure chest waiting to be plundered, and many obstacles in the way.  You have to explore the environment and use what you find to make your way to the chest.

Instead of taking control of Zack directly, the player points the Wii remote at the screen to direct him with a star cursor.  He is followed by Wiki, a floating mechanical monkey that turns into a bell when the player shakes the Wii remote.  Ringing Wiki has a magical effect on enemies and creatures that are nearby; they’ll transform into objects and tools or revert back to their original form with a second ring.  A caterpillar transforms into a cutting saw; a snake into a claw arm for grabbing stuff; and enemies into blocks.  Zack can only carry one item at a time, which can be used on areas of interest, which are easy to spot, since the cursor changes color when you hover over them.

Wii Remote Interactions

Inspecting spots more closely by clicking on them allows you to interact with what you find or use an item.  You’ll crank levers, pull switches, insert and twist keys in locks, and so on by holding the Wii remote in a specific way and performing the sort of movements you would in real life.  The system works out pretty well for the most part, but there are certain scenarios where the Wii remote has difficulty reading your movements.  And if you’re not holding the Wii remote correctly (as depicted in the upper right hand corner of the screen)  your movements may not correlate to your actions at all.  Generally speaking, there are only a few circumstances where timing is key, so you’re free to experiment until you get it right, and they add some fun to the game.

Presentation

The game’s strongest selling point is its gorgeous art direction, which is colorful and cartoony with a distinct style of its own.  The characters are very expressive and the environments – often depicted as diorama-like cross sections – are filled with fantastic details that look almost identical to the concept art.  Items and interactive objects have been given an equal amount of love and care.  Zack & Wiki is certainly one of the Wii’s most visually pleasing titles, exhibiting a degree of charm and polish that is usually restricted to Nintendo’s own titles.

The music suits the pirate theme and adventure, and never becomes tiresome even on stages where you might have difficulty sorting things out for long periods of time.  The game doesn’t feature full voice acting, favoring instead short sound clips that might annoy some players.

Difficulty

The difficulty ranges dramatically from level to level, with some being relatively straight forward to downright frustrating later on.  Don’t judge the game’s complexity by its cartoony appearance.  Depending on the quagmire of events you must perform in sequence, you’ll have to rely on trial and error at first to sort things out.  You will make mistakes, and you’ll have to restart levels from scratch.  There were a few levels in the game with problem solutions so obscure that you’ll be tearing your hair out.

You can buy hints and golden tickets (extra lives) at Zack’s pirate den before starting a level, and these will come in handy in tight spots.  You won’t want to restart an entire level from scratch if you accidentally kick the bucket 20 minutes into a complex chain of events, for example.  And rather than resorting to online guides, using the in-game hint system can provide you with some direction without spoiling too much.  Granted, using these “cheats” will decrease your score, but they go a long way to reducing your inevitable frustration, which sort of comes with the territory with this sort of game.

Replay Value

The game does tempt the player to complete the game a 2nd time in order to collect 100% of the many secret treasures and collectibles, which include art galleries, music libraries, and even 8-bit sprites from classic Capcom games.  However the levels (and their solutions) don’t change, and after you’ve figured out the correct sequence there isn’t much left but to go through the motions.  That said, the main game will take between 12-15 hours to complete and there’s a great deal of variety and fun to be enjoyed while it lasts.

X Marks the Spot!

With Zack & Wiki, Capcom has crafted a totally unique experience on the Wii.  A point-and-click adventure title that makes good use of the Wii remote’s functionality, paired with great art direction, make it easy to love.  The game’s puzzles, on the other hand, can be an exercise in frustration, particularly on levels where one mistake can mean instant death.  It takes a certain amount of patience to fully enjoy it, but Zack & Wiki is something special.  The zany adventures that Zack finds himself in are the stuff of pirate legends – and you won’t want to stop until you see how it all turns out.  Unfortunately Capcom wasn’t happy with the game’s 300,000+ sales, which means Zack & Wiki’s pirating days are likely over, so you may want to grab it while you still can.

 This review is a repost from my site: www.plasticpals.com
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