Zack and Wiki
Nothing to do with Saved by the Bell info.
A vast me hearties! The Skull and Crossbones are flying full mast and there's looting and plundering to be had with Capcom's latest Wii title, Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure. Large hats, maps with black X's marking spots on them and luckily a much better script than my hackneyed pirate cliché's make this old fashioned puzzle game one of the best on Nintendo's latest console.
Capcom's decision to turn a cute, original adventuring partnership between our two protagonists into an old school point and click puzzle game is commendable indeed - especially as it makes full use of the Wiimote. Initially Zack & Wiki impress with how their Disney looks and cartoon 3-D environment, but this belies the sometimes sinister, frustrating and devious puzzles which the game truly prides itself on.
Zack and Wiki are characters who could have been adversaries of Link in Legend of Zelda: Windwalker, however they would likely be deemed to be too mischievous for the elven hero. A member of the Sea Rabbits pirate gang, Zack has but two concerns in life; treasure and chocolate. At least he did have, until he was attacked by rival pirate Captain Rose and her gang of goons. The game takes off from here as you escape your disintegrating aeroplane and the point and click system and uses of the Wiimote are pointed out to you across the first level. You swiftly meet the fabled pirate legend Barbaros' ghost, who offers you his ship if you can find all his missing body pieces and put him back together. Draw in the gangplank, hoist the main brace and set sail for Pirate HQ! In your pirate (cough) aeroplane.
HQ is filled with the rest of the Sea Rabbit gang, who can help you with stats, inventories gained and missions completed, Oracle Dolls (used to call in hints) and Platinum tickets which count as extra lives. Speak to the Captain and he'll show a map of the world complete with current treasure locations and plundered ones. It's a homely place, however you won't want to hang around for too long before you get back on the trail of booty.
As I said above, Zack's access to ancient treasure is constantly blocked by some of the wickedest booby traps designed since Dick Dastardly gave up trying to beat the Ant Hill Gang in Wacky Races to concentrate on his charity career. The Wiimote is used as a pointer through the levels, and the star icon representing where it is pointed will turn red over items of interest. Waving the remote near creatures such as goblins, frogs and bats causes Wiki to turn into a magic bell, and ringing the bell turns these beasts into some very useful items. Items, levers and buttons can all be used by holding the and moving the Wiimote in a specific fashion, and this really draws the player into the game and makes it extremely compelling. You may have sore wrists after an hour's play, so please spare a though for Wiki, who is waved around more often than two snooker balls in a Millwall fan's sock.
Each level of the game is a self-contained room, including all the items you need in order to safely reach the treasure. It's fairly obvious what you need to do to reach the treasure, but the game awards you with HirameQ points to measure how well you have thought through each situation. As you can only hold one item at a time, using these in the correct order is of vital importance - and it can be fatal if you don't. Of course, someone with a Mekonlike intelligence such as myself won't come a cropper very frequently, but it's worthwhile to die once or twice to see our Mars Bar munching hero meet his humorous end.
Humans of more modest intellect will struggle through some stages of the game - while the hints can be handy, an internet provided walkthrough may be necessary. Remember to avoid reading too far down and spoiling the game for yourself. And may I recommend. *ahem*, sorry, I completed it all the way through first time!
Zack & Wicki's sound effects and music match the graphics perfectly, which all adds to the atmosphere and overall experience. As you'll be spending much of your time pondering what your next move should be, you may find yourself humming along to the tune or moving Zack to look at something simply to stifle the yawn he's letting loose out of boredom.
The only major negative inherent in Zack and Wiki is that the Wii controls can be fiddly at times. Some levers need to be pulled up twice, and you'll find yourself throwing them up and down a few times before you get it right. Moving to the bottom or top of the screen can also prove to be problematic as the cursor tends to slip off the edge. The only other fault I can really find is that while young children will be drawn in by the games lovely cartoon graphics, it won't be long before they are crying because they simply won't have a clue what they are supposed to do. At least in Zack's death they can laugh at the animations.
Zack and Wiki is exactly the kind of third party game the Wii is screaming out for - original, beautiful, and compelling whilst actually making the most of the Wiimote controls. Giant boss battles, flying airships, mad scientist potions and an immense sense of satisfaction when you have that "Eureka!" moment make this a must have game for any Wii owner. It's also a healthy 12-15 hours of playtime, with plenty of variety in the puzzles so it never gets stale. Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of rum!