Since the release of the Nintendo Wii there has yet to be one title that really utilizes every feature that the console has to offer. Sure Rayman and Monkey Ball make great use of the Wii-mote’s range of functionality, but none of the launch titles have really taken advantage of WiiConnect24. Konami has delivered on both accounts creating a game that is only possible with the Wii’s unique controller as well as incorporating the system’s online functions thus creating the first game designed to show how great a game created specifically for Nintendo’s unique system can truly be.
The game begins with a poorly presented story that really only serves to interrupt the action. You play the role of a spoiled kid who seemingly has had it up to here with the amount of attention the Elebits are getting. Even though these pint-sized creatures have been supplying the entire world with electricity he simply wishes them away, thus leaving the entire world in an eternal blackout. In order to right his wrongs the aforementioned kid decides to confiscate his father’s capture gun and restore the Elebits along with the world’s power supply.
The cut scenes are driven by some beautifully drawn stills that are presented very well however the voice overs will drive you absolutely insane. These monotone performances are some of the worst I have heard in a game to date and really beg the question of how little of an effort was put behind these performances. The cut scenes also drag on far longer than they really should; the story is more of a distraction than anything else and it’s a shame you have to endure it for as long as it lasts.
Once you get past this though is where Elebits truly shines. The game utilizes both the Wii-mote and the nunchuk and manages to avoid feeling tacked on or gimmicky. You strafe with the analog stick on the nunchuk and use the Wii-mote to aim and use your capture gun by pressing the A or B buttons. You can also use the C and Z buttons on the nunchuk to stand on your tip-toes or simply duck down which is pivotal in finding every single Elebit in the game.
The most impressive thing about the control scheme here though is that it doesn’t feel broken like other first-person games on the Wii namely Red Steel. I never once found myself wrestling with the camera trying to get it just right or not being able to quickly target an object; the controls are so smooth that other developers should take note of the impressive job that Konami has done with this scheme.
Now you may be asking yourself how a game where you simply zap miniature creatures over and over could be fun or addicting. While the premise is simple the execution is where it really shines. There is a nice layer of strategy involved in the game that will keep you on your toes and keep you coming back for more, which is always a formula for success in this industry. This comes from the balance between finding Elebits as well as how you can manipulate your environment.
Throughout the game you will level-up your capture gun allowing it to lift heavier objects. The more Elebits you obtain the more powerful your gun becomes. Eventually you will be lifting massive objects which turn the game into one of the best destruction simulators you will ever play. Creating a mess with the environments is one of the biggest draws to the game’s fun-factor. By the end of the game you will be tossing around diesel trucks and even entire buildings.
What makes this even more appealing is the game’s amazing physics engine. Manipulating objects hasn’t been this fun since Psi-Ops, and that is truly saying something. You can stack items on top of each either or simply hurl them into the air or into other objects. Everything in the game is interactive which makes the world feel much more alive and robust. This is also enhanced with the way each object interacts with the environment; knocking over tables by slinging cabinets into them and realistically slinging open doors adds a layer to Elebits that no other game to date has even come close to.
The core game is broken down into levels all of which are timed. While some of them don’t seem to give you enough time to explore others will give you ample time to enjoy the environments. (Editor’s Note: We mistakenly commented that the game didn’t feature a free-roam mode but we have been corrected by reader Ken Degray that it does in fact have one and we sadly overlooked it in our review. This doesn’t effect the score but it is worth mentioning as it does add replay to the game. Thanks Ken)
There are over thirty environments to explore and range from simple one-room endeavors to entire city streets. To advance though you will need to collect a set number of points by zapping Elebits in each preceding room. As you journey into each room you will also stumble across some small new gameplay elements that help expand the formula. For instance some levels will require you to be quiet; make too much noise and its game over, while others will force you to play cautious and not break too many objects. While these small additions don’t really take the game in an entirely new direction, it does add a nice change of pace and diversity keeping the game from growing stale too early on.
In addition to the solid single-player romp Konami has also thrown in a couple of extras to keep players occupied once they have toppled the main game. The first a combination of co-op and competitive modes for up to four players on one screen. The catch here is that player one will always be controlling the camera and strafing and with up to four streams on screen at once it can get hectic.
The second mode is by far my favorite of the package. It comes in the form of a WiiConnect24 option that allows players to create and trade new Elebits maps online. This has a huge possibility to become a community favorite as creative gamers everywhere will no doubt be coming up with some truly brilliant ideas for the game’s incredible physics engine. The only downfall of this mode is that you must use a pre-set template when creating new maps, but alas it is a small price to pay for hours of countless enjoyment.
Visually the game doesn’t pack a punch, but Konami has made up for it with the incredible physics engine. While characters and objects are low-res and definitely not made up of very many polygons, they do possess more character than some other games boasting lush HD visuals. Elebits is a perfect example of how to make a great game with the tools in front of you. As I mentioned earlier though you may want to turn off the voice acting as it will surely drive you mad.
Elebits is a fantastic game to showcase the potential of Nintendo’s new console and it has been released at the perfect time to be discovered. If you are done with Zelda and simply can’t get into Excite Truck then you should certainly give Konami’s first original Wii effort a shot. The game has a certain charm that will please fans of just about any genre, not to mention add some much needed diversity to the currently shallow Wii lineup.