Zack & Wiki Review

Capcom has been making a habit of publishing unique and enjoyable videogames lately — Okami and Dead Rising come to mind. That trend continues with Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure, a puzzle/adventure game that puts heavy emphasis on environment interaction, and makes very practical use of the Wii remote.

Zack & Wiki is the story of a treasure hunter named Zack and his magical flying monkey sidekick, Wiki. It’s billed as an adventure game, but is more of a puzzle game that ate its Wheaties. Players actually choose the level they would like to attempt from a map screen, and are later allowed to re-play them in any order, any number of times. The storyline is fairly weak, and with little continuity between areas, the experience is ultimately something slightly different from the classic point-and-click adventures that its gameplay resembles at first glance.

Instead, Zack & Wiki is a completely fresh piece of software that introduces innovative ways of solving puzzles faced by its protagonists. Zack is directed around each level using the infrared pointer of the Wii remote. Players click with the A button, and Zack either scurries to the location or interacts with the object that was selected. It’s very simple, and although the pointer is occasionally inaccurate, novice gamers will likely be attracted to Zack & Wiki because it is so easily accessibe. Then the fun begins.

When Zack examines somethings, the view changes, and players are asked to manipulate the object using the motion sensing Wii remote. For example, pulling a lever is accomplished by reaching forward with the remote held vertically, then yanking backwards, just as if the player was really operating the control. Other manipulations include hammering, sawing, turning keys, etc. Like the game says, “Your grip on the Wii remote is the key.”

There are a few gestures that can be a bit finicky leading to brief frustrations now and again, and the way the game displays the proper “Wii remote grip” before each and every manipulation is slightly insulting. Overall, though, playing with the various items and parts of the environment is very enjoyable. These new and interesting gameplay mechanics should be enough to satisfy veteran gamers just as much as the newbies.

One thing worth noting is that the puzzles in Zack & Wiki usually make a good deal of sense, unlike a lot of the ridiculously thought out sequences in PC adventure games. Unfortunately, the game still contains a few situations that can only be figured out after death is dealt, meaning trial-and-error gameplay is forced upon the player. The deaths are indeed humorous (surprisingly brutal in concept; very light in presentation), but that experimental approach to success seems very dated.

The music in Zack & Wiki also feels a bit dated. While the tracks are all suited to the game’s theme and are varied enough remain interesting, it would have been nice to hear slightly more sophisticated sound quality. The graphics, on the other hand, do not disappoint (except for the intermittent dips in frame rate). The Wind Waker -esque cel shading is crisp and bright, perfectly befitting a pirate’s adventure. As a matter of fact, the game’s entire audio/visual presentation appears to borrow from the aforementioned seafaring adventure. It even features similar short, unintelligible, repetitive, and oftentimes annoying vocal expressions from most of its characters.

Zack & Wiki is clearly not flawless, but in the end, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Engrossing gameplay is the focal point, and the game delivers in that area. Additionally, I feel Zack & Wiki may very well open the floodgates of more innovative Wii games, acting as a primer for other developers to build from. Go ahead and try out Zack & Wiki, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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