like the DS, the wii has seen a revival of point-and-click adventures, and one of the most lauded is zack and wiki: quest for barbaros’ treasure by capcom. P&Cs comprise another one of those genres like RPGs that i used to think i liked but have come to realize that i get rather bored with. the presence of a story and great characters can help keep me engaged (see hotel dusk for a great example), but Z&W lacks much of either. i can’t believe the number of times i picked up this game, played through one or two levels, and then put it away again. the characters are endearing enough, but i found that capcom’s decision to keep the japanese presentation completely intact to be an odd design choice and not one that would immediately appeal to american players. granted, anime and manga have certainly penetrated our culture and i’m definitely a fan of both, but the sheen of the game’s presentation gives the game a somewhat cold surface, and the fact the sound effects are all in japanese caused me to feel even more distant. the presentation fits well within capcom’s ethos, but in many ways it seems more suited to an action game than one involving puzzles.
for many the novelty of the wii controls (which work fairly well and are only occasionally frustrating) might be enough of a distraction, but without the veneer to keep me hooked my reception of the game was based on the quality of the puzzles. unsurprisingly with this type of game my enjoyment (or lack thereof) often boils down to how many of the solutions i find to be maddeningly obtuse. a certain number is to be expected given the genre, and i don’t think my level of tolerance is that low. the game does have a built-in hint system that although i avoided for a long time eventually i gave in to, because it turns out that there are just too many cases where the solutions are in my opinion fairly obnoxious. sometimes these are due to situations that require real-time actions, of which there are too many: putting a time limit to the puzzles really detracts from the experience since most of the time the solutions require a fair amount of trial and error anyway. on top of this the amount of redoing you’ll have to slog through is extremely annoying, even taking into account the game’s built-in rewind feature, sometimes due to finicky controls and sometimes due to too much rigidity in the required execution of a solution, i.e. you know exactly what to do and how to do it, but because you weren’t standing in exactly the right position you have to start over.
the design is top-notch, though, and clearly a lot of TLC went into the game. the central mechanic of ringing your monkey-bell companion wiki to turn animals into objects is great, and i definitely appreciate capcom’s retro cameos and their efforts to create not only a new IP, but one in a somewhat unusual genre for them. they’ve certainly done a great job laying the groundwork for sequels, although it’s no secret that sales of the game were dismal. it’s too bad they couldn’t translate the success of their P&C DS franchise phoenix wright to the wii. still, apparently they’ve said that a Z&W sequel isn’t completely out of the question. which is good to hear, because although i was often fairly bored with the game, eventually i did get more into it and there were some really great, quite memorable sequences that i enjoyed. not sure if it’s quite enough for me to want to play the sequel, but i’d consider it. the game certainly does have its fans, though, so we’ll just have to see.