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Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure

Just go buy it.
Once in a while a game comes along that receives little coverage in the mainstream press, even though the game is more than deserving of a mention. Beyond Good & Evil is one such game and close on its tail as an underappreciated title come Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros Treasure. Taking a new twist on classic adventure puzzle games, Zack & Wiki puts you in the role of a trainee pirate who is on a mission to reconstruct the pieces of the legendary Barbaros; the golden pirate.

The biggest draw to the game is its simplicity and the developers' grasp of Wii-mote implementation. Rather than just a slight diversion in the game, the Wii-mote controls all. To move Zack your pirate and his tagalong flying monkey friend Wiki simply point the cursor to where you want to move and click the A button; itís as easy as that. If an obstacle or a hazard is in your way, Z&W will thankfully not plummet to their death so feel free to click all over the game screen to find your way though.

The premise of the game is simple. Each level is a puzzle that you need to solve to grab the treasure. When each level starts the camera pans over the entire playfield, showing in subtle ways what is required to complete the level. Early on in the game a pan showed a level with a tunnel, a snake, a fire and a stick. It's left up to you to figure out what needed to be done to collect that piece of Barbaros. In a way that makes no sense what so ever, Wiki has the ability to transform into a bell which when rung can turn enemies into useful items to help complete your quest. See that button but donít know how to keep it pressed? Just ring your bell (Wii-mote) next to a thug and heíll inexplicable turn into a totem which can be moved with ease and fits perfectly on the button. The entire game is made of scenarios similar to that and quite honestly can end up being quite tricky for some younger gamers. Iíll admit to requiring the need of a walkthrough from time to time, and I did use some of the in game hints to progress through the game.

The puzzles in the game are quite ingenious and take some thought to figure out. Whether itís finding out how to trap a snow sweeping robot on a frozen lake or using a broom to sweep dust off of pictures to allow the moonlight from the artwork to shine though Ė the game is challenging while also maintaining a very high level of entertainment. Even though the game is technically a single player only title, up to four people can interact with the game at the same time. Players who arenít in control of Zack can point to the screen with additional Wii-motes and even draw on the screen to help get their ideas of what to do next across. Also, itís a great way for younger gamers to be involved while their parents hog the Wii.

Graphically Zack & Wiki leans towards the childish side quite heavily, but it fits very well within this game. Character models are exaggerated and pack a lot of flourish. Even the secondary characters that you interact with mainly in the games main hub are oversized animals, one of which features the same hanging snot from his nose as that one little kid in the Wind Waker. The levels are nicely detailed and each ties into a specific theme for a given grouping, such as jungles and the requisite Ice worlds. The audio is pretty basic and features very little in terms of voice acting. The musical selections are not particularly mind blowing, but they do help add ambience to the game while playing.

I canít stress enough the great uses of the Wiiís motion controls in this game. Whether itís something as simple as shaking the controller in time to a song to using the controller to simulate turning a lock, this game gets all the movements right. I never found the controls to be unresponsive and they always kept me very engaged in the game. The slight humor aspect of the game mixed with the great visuals. Add in the small side game of sending off a character on treasure hunting excursions, and the secret treasures that are unlocked after you find all of Barbarosí pieces and you are looking at a game that could take anywhere from 15 hours to well over 25 for some gamers. Itís again a pleasure to see new and fresh games coming out in the world of sequels, and supporting these new games will only help spur innovation. Thanks to the tight controls and the pure fun associated with this game I can easily highly recommend this title for anyone who enjoys puzzle or adventure games, not to mention the family friendly aspect of the game makes it safe purchase for any gamer out there.