Sunday, January 16, 2011

Elebits (Wii)

Play Time: 20min

What Happened:
Issam played a level (7min), I played a level (10min), and then Issam played about 5min of the next level. Somewhere around 5min into my level, I noticed that I was starting to feel motion sick... which is why we stopped playing.

This is an interesting game! It was one of the first to come out on the Wii, so the tutorial includes a bit about basic wii motion, which is cool. :) The game opens with the story (told through charming drawings!) about a little boy (you) whose parents study "Elebits" - which are the source of electricity in this world (I think). Because they are so devoted to their work, you're jealous and you hate Elebits and wish they didn't exist. Next, the power goes out, and your parents rush off. You want to watch TV, which involves power - so you need to use your Dad's gravity gun to catch Elebits (at which point the story premise that you want to watch TV promptly disappears).

The game is played in first person - you use the nunchuk to move, the wiimote to look, and you grab stuff with your gun with A. As you shoot Elebits to grab them, your gun becomes increasingly more powerful, and you can pick up and move more stuff, to find the Elebits which are hidden behind everything. Also as you gather energy, you're able to turn on appliances, which makes large groups of Elebits appear. Everything movable (which is pretty much everything as you keep gaining the power to move more) is controlled by a physics simulation, needless to say, in each level you basically end up making a huge mess of everything in a room in the pursuit of Elebits.

What I Liked:

Intro Cinematic. The visual style for the intro was really cool!

Elebits. They're cute! They make cute noises, they act in cute ways (sleeping, or running towards cookies with hearts over their heads), and they look cute.

Trashing Rooms. Physics simulation games are always fun when you can move pretty much everything. It's just fun to be able to pick up boxes and dressers and whatnot and toss them around.

Mechanics. I think the overall idea of this game is really different and interesting! Pretty much everything is satisfying. Zapping Elebits to capture them feels good. Throwing boxes around is fun. I like the way you gain the ability to lift more - there is a clear feeling of progression in each level. You feel satisfied when you can turn on an appliance and a bunch of Elebits pop out. It's a game of simple pleasures.

What I Didn't Like:
Motion-sickness! This one really isn't Konami's fault - it seems I get sick in any game where you look with one control and move with another. :(

Cameras. Sometimes cameras felt cramped, and I had a hard time getting my bearings.

UI. Felt rushed and unloved. Menus were sort of ugly, and just existed to get you from one place to another.

Style Meshing. The intro cinematic was really cool - but the menus and gameplay seemed to be all completely different visually. It would have been nice if they were all tied together better. This would have been a really different looking game if they'd gotten some of the style from the cinematic into the gameplay.

Voice acting. As cool as the intro cinematic looked, the voices were pretty terrible.

Motivation. As I mentioned, the pretense for catching Elebits seems to have been quickly forgotten about. I don't think this is a big deal, since ultimately this is a simple game - but it's definitely something that I noticed.

How Do I Feel About Continuing?:

Unfortunately, because it made me sick, I don't think I'll be picking it up again. If this wasn't the case, I would put this game in the category of a good way to pass time on a rainy day - nothing more or less. I'm not really dying to know what's going to happen in the story - although this game has done a better job than some of the more recent games I've played (DK Country and Bowser's Inside Story) in that I sort of feel like there might be a story here, and I'm vaguely curious about how it might turn out (sad boy, Elebit disappearance - did he cause it with his wish? Will he just stay in the house, or will he venture out? Is there more to this story?) - but this curiosity isn't particularly pressing, since the game has given me no real indication that there will be more to the story.

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