although there have been almost countless mario spin-offs, spin-offs of other 1st-party franchises have been fairly rare. link’s crossbow training, released for wii, was a fairly recent exception, being, of course, a spin-off of the zelda series. when the wii was announced it was immediately clear that light-gun style games, which nintendo pioneered even before the NES’s duck hunt, would be a perfect fit for the new pointer-based controls, and link’s crossbow training was released just a year after the wii debuted.
the game is a fairly straightforward arcade-style shooter. there are several different type of stages: one that’s more on-rails and focused on hitting the bullseye of targets or approaching enemies; one where you stand in a fixed location and pivot around 360 degrees, machine-gun turret-style; and one like an FPS where you actually walk around and take out targets. the latter takes advantage of the zapper peripheral. the zapper is a plastic shell that the wiimote and nunchuk slot into, and the game was sold with it. although the zapper never really caught on otherwise, it’s decently well designed (not quite as perfectly as the wii wheel, though). the trigger is a bit mushier than i would like, but otherwise it fulfills its purpose of providing a bit more weight and balance than just holding the bare wiimote with a stiff arm.
although having different types of levels is good and it was fun to be back in the world of twilight princess (without the hazy sunlight graphics), the game feels fairly basic overall. as you’d expect with a light-gun shooter, the game emphasizes not breaking your combo streak by not missing any shots, and you can earn medals based on your high scores. the medals serve no purpose other than to help you track your progress, but levels are presented in groups of three so even if you do poorly in one stage you can still make it up in another. aside from a pair of fairly basic boss fights that help provide some variety, there aren’t really any surprises. the game’s clearly not up to the level of something like house of the dead 2, and even wii play felt like a more fun and more complete experience.
overall link’s crossbow training is serviceable as a side game and on a wiiware sort of level, but otherwise is fairly disposable. it’s nice to see a zelda spin-off, but i’m glad i didn’t have to pay much for the fairly forgettable experience.
gunnin’ for a high score with these link’s crossbow training links:
– official page at nintendo.com
– entry at zelda.wikia.com, has details on game modes and scoring
– the entry at strategywiki.org includes faqs on the locations of scarecrows and orange rupees
– iwata asks feature