For a control scheme that seems to mimic the PC so much, the Wii has not had many games of the point and click variety. Fortunately, Capcom is willing to oblige with Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure, a sort of hybrid of action and puzzle games. Don’t let the anime inspired graphics fool you, Zack & Wiki is not for kids, not because of its content, but because the difficulty of the puzzles can and just may possibly send even the most hardened gamer looking for a strategy guide. Zack & Wiki takes some tried and true aspects of the point and click adventure and throws in a little patented Wii motion sensing controls for good measure. The two combined make for a really interesting game that will probably be overlooked by the majority of gamers everywhere, but of course loved by critics.
Zack & Wiki features music exactly the way you would imagine a game with this name to sound. That is to say, it’s light and jolly music that reflects the art style of the game. The sound effects on the other hand are rather on the odd side, they’re very simple and reminiscent of games from yesteryear. Capcom was even smart enough to use the speaker in the Wii Remote to a good degree as you will get to hear lots of the sound effects directly from the remote. Dialog is handled via text, though the characters make sounds that resemble some sort of gibberish dialect of Japanese. It’s clear that the audio was not of primary focus in Zack & Wiki, but rest assured that it is good and very respectable, though, English voice acting could have only made the game better especially when you’re trying to cater to a wider audience.
The anime inspired art style gives Zack & Wiki a unique look that, while is very cool, doesn’t exactly match the sort of themes going on throughout the game or for that matter the challenge that lies beneath the visual surface. The game looks pretty with its bright and colorful artwork, even if each level is pretty small and confined. The characters are beautifully animated as Capcom has been well known for over the years. Every action is wonderfully animated and will indeed remind you of watching some sort of wacky anime. The game is divided into themes, so the first section has you in a jungle, then you move to an area covered in snow and ice, then the obligatory lava and fire stages and so on. Part of the charm of Zack & Wiki is just watching how they interact with the environment, plus you’ve got to watch closely in order to get any sort of clue as to what your next move should be.
Which brings me to the actual gameplay of Zack & Wiki. It’s about interacting with objects and seeing how they fit into what amounts to be a giant puzzle contained within one stage. For example, on one stage you need to avoid a clean freak robot that needs to clean up any mess that you might make. However, this stage takes place in the snow and the robot doesn’t like to see footprints, he comes out once every half minute or so, meaning you’ve got only that tiny bit of time to work with. Your only option to get around is to walk up to one of the various trees and shake it to drop snow to cover your tracks. If you don’t cover your tracks the robot will catch you and end your game and any progress you might have made. This is what makes the game so clever, it’s 90% puzzle and 10% action. The puzzle portions are all handled quite nicely with the Wii Remote, so in my example you walk up to the tree and press the “A” button to interact with it and hold the remote as if it were an extension of your hand and shake it until the snow drops from the tree. This is the key focus of Zack & Wiki. This is how you solve puzzles. You get an item and it’s up to you to figure out how, when and where to use it and though it may sound easy it gets really tough when items can only be used one time. If you use them at the wrong moment, you’re stuck and forced to start over. It’s what makes the game good and irritating at the same time. This will make some gamers happy and drive other gamers to possibly throw the Wii Remote at the television set, it’s very divisive, but so unique that it’s worth playing. Like I said before, it’s a difficult game despite what it may look like and it’s not for younger children and for that matter is probably too difficult for many adults.
Of course Capcom was kind enough to keep this in mind, so if you get stuck you can purchase hints, although sometimes they’re very obscure, as well as revive tickets that will allow you to continue at the puzzle right before you met your untimely demise. Also, there is plenty of replay value to the game, especially if you want to find everything hidden throughout every stage, like classic Capcom characters strewn around every stage. For most people one play through would be enough, if they can even make it that far, but some gamers are gluttons for punishment and this game will punish you especially if and when you make a costly mistake. Make no mistake the difficulty of Zack & Wiki is unforgiving, but it’s fun and in comparison to so many games that most gamers could sleepwalk through, when you beat a stage you get a real sense of accomplishing something. That’s what separates gaming from so many other forms of media and what makes it so much fun to be a gamer, the fact that you get to be part of the story. You can be a hero and when you save the day you end up feeling like you’ve really done something more than just sitting back and watching action unfold like in a movie.
In the end if you like point and click adventures, you’re probably just the right person for Zack & Wiki. Don’t get thrown off by the cartoon-like graphics, this is classic puzzle solving at its finest. The steep difficulty will surely throw some people off, but if you can stick with it, you’ll be in for a treat. Zack & Wiki is definitely purchase worthy material. Support more games like this in the future because it means that we’ll get less bargain bin games at new release type prices. At the very least give it a rental, you should find yourself engrossed in the game for quite some time.
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