Pandora's Tower, known in Japan as Pandora no Tou: Kimi no Moto e Kaerumade (or, "Pandora's Tower: Until I Return to Your Side") , is an action RPG for the Nintendo Wii co-developed by Nintendo and Ganbarion. It was released in Japan on May 26, 2011 and in Europe on April 13, 2012. XSEED Games published the game in North America on April 16, 2013. Pandora's Tower was the third and final game that the grassroots movement Operation Rainfall had been petitioning Nintendo for North American release. The other games petitioned for, Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story, were both released in North America in 2012, with XSEED handling the publishing duties for The Last Story. Interestingly, the Wii U eShop release of the game was handled by Nintendo of America and had no involvement from XSEED at all.
The story focuses on a boy named Aeron and a girl named Elena. Elena is afflicted with a curse that will gradually transform her into a monster, and the only way to stave off its effects is by consuming the flesh of other monsters. Aeron journeys to collect flesh for her to eat and to find a way to lift the curse. There are multiple endings to the game based on the relationship that the player builds between Aeron and Elena that is affected by how often the player returns to give Elena flesh to eat, as well as special items that can either be bestowed on Elena as gifts or be kept to use against enemies. The game also features a New Game Plus mode that unlocks after it has been completed once.
The game has been described by the developers as an "exploration-style action RPG." The main tool is a chain that can be used to restrain or swing enemies, pull off monsters' flesh, swing around and trigger mechanisms in the environments.
The game supports the Classic Controller in addition to the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. When the player uses a Wii Remote, the chain is controlled via arm motions.
The process of developing Pandora's Tower was elaborated upon in a developer interview with Nintendo's CEO, Satoru Iwata.
Pandora's Tower began development in 2006 after Iwata, pleased with Ganbarion's efforts on Jump Super Stars and Jump Ultimate Stars, gave the company the opportunity to create an original intellectual property. Ganbarion general director Chikako Yamakura, who wanted to produce a game targeted at young men, chose to make the central focus of the game a girl who slowly becomes corrupted and then purified over the course of play. To cure the girl of this transformation, she would need to eat special meat presented to her by the player; a task made all the more difficult by the fact that the laws of the world in which the game is set prohibit the consumption of meat of any sort. When the project was proposed to Iwata for approval, Yamakura pitched a game about true love based on story and world concepts that she and the team had conceptualized, but under which the manner of gameplay had yet to be decided. This notion made Iwata skeptical, as Nintendo's traditional approach to design was to conceive gameplay before story, but he greenlit the project based on Ganbarion's work on the Jump titles.
After the project was greenlit, Ganbarion set to work on the gameplay, crafting an action game design based on the player's use of a chain as a weapon controlled by the Wii Remote. The challenge of crafting gameplay around the original story concepts that the team had conceived was in retrospect not that different from their approach to their past work on a licensed intellectual properties, in which they had to conceive of gameplay for creative works whose stories and internal logic had already been set. Approaching the development of the gameplay from this standpoint allowed the development process to feel more natural for the team.
One of the biggest challenges that Ganbarion faced in developing Pandora's Tower was establishing and sustaining the emotional connection with Elena, the girl at the center of the game. The primary issue that the team faced was that people enjoyed the gameplay in the towers, but found the idea of having to go back and see her to be a drag; the motivation to help Elena simply wasn't there. To improve the player's sympathy and compassion for Elena, her design and character underwent large-scale changes during the final year of development. Changes made ranged from her lines of dialogue to the nature of her appearance as she transforms over the course of the game. As a result, most every scene that features her had to be redone. This process was also very trying on the staff, who struggled to find ways to make Elena work; Yamakura spent so much time locked in her office that she lost ten kilos during this process. However, the extra work proved to pay off, as the development team noticed a sharp, positive change in attitude toward Elena from those that playtested the game with her revised character.
European Limited Edition
The European version of the game was available as a standard edition and a Limited Edition. The latter came packaged in a bigger cardboard box containing the game in its regular case along with a special metal case and an artbook with liner notes. All versions of the game feature reversible cover art, chosen by fans via a poll on Nintendo of Europe's website in the months leading up to the game's release. Upon fan inquiry, XSEED stated that they would not be putting a special edition on shelves but were creating a reversible cover.
Black Box Design
It is of note that Pandora's Tower is the first and so far only Wii game released outside of Japan to feature the black Wii-box design, previously only used in Japan for mature titles rated "Cero C" and above. Nintendo Japan first started this practice with the Japan-only title Zangeki no Reginleiv and has since adopted the black boxes for mature-rated titles for 3DS as well. While the black box design was used for the European release published by Nintendo, the XSEED-published North American version used the standard white boxes and Wii banner.
Club Nintendo Trilogy Coins
Registering any version of Pandora's Tower and The Last Story and Xenoblade Chronicles with a Club Nintendo account in Europe grants eligibility to receive a very limited trio of gold coins from Nintendo of Europe as a 'thank you' for loyal customers who bought and registered all three titles. Each coin represents one of the games and has the respective title of the game engraved in it.