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Gormiti: The Lords of Nature!


The international collectible game's cartoon adaptation comes to the Wii
In all honesty, I knew nothing about Gormiti before taking this game for a test drive, but apparently it's a Pokemon-style card game/collectible toy originating from Italy that was followed by a kid-friendly cartoon. It doesn't seem to have hit big in America, but it's got a decent following internationally.

The concept of the collectible game, as far as I can ascertain, follows a race of creatures belonging to different elemental tribes, all of whom battle it out with the fire tribe for the fate of the Island of Gorm (when they aren't battling each other.) The cartoon made a few changes, introducing four kids who can utilize elemental powers of wind, water, forest and earth to battle the fire tribe. This game uses the cartoon for source material, putting you in the kids' shoes, as you battle across the Island (and adjacent areas) of Gorm.

gormiti lords of nature posing for picture

Gameplay:

The game takes place over several levels across the Island of Gorm, including an area for each of your tribes, as you control three combatants, one at a time, while the other two follow and battle alongside you, controlled by the computer (you can cycle through them at any time.) The fourth member of the group stays back at home to act as a guide to the gang, but if his or her special skills are needed at any point, they'll jump in to lend a hand.

The storyline is actually pretty well-done, unfolding mainly through cut-scenes, which feature very cheesy humor that may appeal to little ones who play with the figures or watch the cartoon. The gameplay lets you slog your way through waves of bad guys, collecting jewels and hidden artifacts, on your way to a face-off with a level boss. It's pretty straight-forward brawling action, with some extremely light puzzle-solving mixed in (so light, you'd have to be unconscious to not solve them.)

gormiti lords of nature landscape shot

The jewels actually take the place of lives in the game, as you lose part of your inventory each time you die, fall off a cliff, get burned or drown, which makes it rather easy to progress through the game. Every enemy you kill will give you a bit of your health back, along with a handful of jewels. Killing bad guys is the only way you can get the red-colored jewels (a stat your scored on at the end of the levels), but they float away once they appear, which makes it essentially impossible to collect them all. Half the game is played along thin cliffs, so you'll watch many red jewels immediately go over the edge without a chance of grabbing one. There are a few more difficult sections of the game, where you'll watch that inventory get depleted quickly, but you'd rarely feel like you're at risk of losing completely.

Your characters have some pretty cool capabilities, including a projectile attack that you can fire on the run, a melee attack that effectively takes care of any enemy, and special attacks that kill basically everything bad on the screen. This gets charged via consecutive attacks, but if you get hit, it goes down to nothing. It can get pretty frustrating building it up only to get tapped and have to start over. As fun as these attacks are, they are nothing compared to the jump attack, which is easily the most effective way to kill enemies, as it keeps you mostly safe from attacks and hammers multiple enemies at the same time. For 90 percent of the game, you'll flip between the melee and jump attack, simply because they work, but it won't make for a hugely fun experience.

gormiti lords of nature posing for picture

The weakest part of the game has to be the lack of variety in the gameplay. As you play through level after level, you just know what's coming, as you're going to slug through waves of grunts and bugs, flipping switches and using skills until you reach a level boss, who mainly require patience to defeat, more than any other skill. It becomes less about needing to complete the quests, than fighting off boredom, as you do the same thing over and over. The only way to play outside the standard play, is the cooperative mode, which is a touch more entertaining, if only because you get to share the experience. This mode allows for drop-in play, so you can jump in at any time. The thing that's really aggravating about this lack of variety is the feeling that the characters and their powers could be a part of a pretty impressive game.

Online Play

There isn't a single online element here.

Controls

The controls are relatively tight, with the Wii's motion controls used only for activating your special attack (via a wave of the Wii-mote.) Otherwise, your two attacks, a chargeable long-distance shot and a melee assault, are spit between the nunchuk and Wii-mote, with your jump on the Wii-mote and character swap on the nunchuk. It's a pretty natural scheme, but it's not easy to aim your long-distance weapon in this view, especially without a targeting system. You'll also find yourself missing items you attempt to collect, as depth perception is an issue with the game's viewpoint.

Achievements

There's a lot of collecting to be done in Gormiti, starting with the puzzle pieces that will let you play with puzzles of game art, and eggs that unlock those old-school slide games. These are insanely easy, to the point where one slide game was solved with a single move. If anything proves that this is a kids game, it's the nature of these unlockables. If anything proves how repetitive it is, is the placement of these collectibles, which are always in the shallow foreground, just below the camera, or in a cave, revealed by an obvious switch.

gormiti lords of nature shooting blue magic

Graphics

Graphically, Gormiti is a mixed bag. The animated cut-scenes, which can be viewed as an extra once reached in-game, look really good, but not great, while the animations on your avatars are rather smooth and impressive. The characters are soft looking and lack detail though, which is unfortunate, because the levels look really nice, and feature some impressive looks, especially the sea levels, which use some nice water effects when you're swimming. There are some issues with shadows, as you will find yourself falling off cliffs simply because the edges are hidden by shadows, but otherwise it's a good-looking game that could definitely use more definition.

Sound

If there's one word that jumps to mind when thinking about the sound of Gormiti, it has to be annoying. That's due to two main factors. The first is the sound you hear when collecting jewels throughout the game. Each time you do, a tinkling noise emanates from the speaker on the Wii-mote. This wouldn't be so bad, but you collect hundreds of these gems on every level, so you're hearing this sound constantly, and it's pretty close to you. The other source of aggravation comes from one character, the Lord of Wind, whose cry when using her special skill will sear itself into your brain. It's such a whiny bit of dialogue, and again, you'll hear it often. Beyond the in-game grunts and battle-cries (why do the bad guys sound like Arnold Schwarzenegger?) there's actually a ton of quality dialogue for a Wii game, mostly during the cut scenes.

And in the End...

If a kid likes Gormiti and isn't a hardcore gamer, they'll probably enjoy this game, as the beat-em-up action is pretty fun, and it's not going to be hard to complete the game. For older players though, the lack of challenge and variety in the gameplay will make the promising concept a non-starter.



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