From my last review, you know I'm a fan of puzzle games (excluding most match-three games, like Bejeweled, Candy Crush, etc) I'm also a fan of underrated gems. Games that don't get the same marketing most games like CoD, Battlefield, GTA, LoZ, Mario, Splatoon, etc. Over the years of watching game reviews, I've been opened up to dozens of games I really wanna talk about that so few people (outside of the big-wig game review sites) talk about. One game that really caught my attention a few years ago was a game called Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure. However, because of how poorly this game sold, I've been unable to obtain a copy from my local Gamestop. Until one day, I stumbled upon this game sitting upon the used Wii games rack, and for $3! I bought this game without even giving it a second thought, and... the disc was inoperable. I was PISSED that day. So I decided to cut out the middle man and check Amazon, finding a working copy for $6. After all these years, I finally played the legendary Zack and Wiki, and what did I experience?
The game centers around wannabe pirate, Zack and Wiki, a cross between Pikachu and one of the Super Monkey Ball guys. The newest members of a small pirate gang, the Sea Rabbits. However, they end up in a scuffle with a rival pirate crew, the Rose Rock Pirates, led by spoiled rich bitch anime stereotype, Captain Rose. She overpowers the two, causing them to crash on a mysterious tropical island. After some action-puzzle solving, they stumble upon the remains of infamous pirate, Barbaros. He promises the two his pirate ship and to lead them to the mysterious, Treasure Island if they find the rest of his body parts, scattered throughout the sea. That is, if dangerous island natives, giant centipedes, angry gorillas, ice monsters, fire-breathing dragons, giant squids, haunted spirits, and the aforementioned anime stereotype don't get them first.
The game's entire structure is level-based. You take on a set of standard puzzle levels and eventually uncover a large "boss encounter". Each level contains a treasure chest, a series of obstacles you must overcome, the tools necessary, and you're left to manage. Many obstacles use Wiki's transforming ability. Ringing Wiki like a bell in front of various animals transforms them into various objects, like handsaws, grappling claws, umbrellas, explosives, etc. All of which with multiple uses and functions throughout the entire game. Every level is has something interactive, but these puzzles do require a bit of foresight. performing an action at the wrong time may result in you having to start over. As well as a negative impact on your "HirameQ", a scoring system based on how long it takes the player to solve the puzzle and how perfectly its executed. However, unlike most puzzle games, Zack and Wiki can die or fail. If this happens, you have to start over from the beginning. However, purchasing Platinum Tickets can let them start from when they perished; though this will cost you some HQ points. The game also has a hint-system (useless when Youtube exists). The game's puzzles are all cleverly designed and take some grey matter to solve, especially with Zack able to die. Every single level uses a different mechanic and keeps it extremely varied. You're never stuck doing the same exact thing, other than some necessary gestures. It's impossible to describe any of them without giving any of them away.
The game's control scheme is that of a point-and-click adventure. Zack isn't controlled, but guided throughout the level, examining the various mechanisms and obstacles scattered throughout each area. Yes, there's waggling, but there's also rotating, button prompts, sawing motions, twisting, etc. There are dozens of gestures, many of them rather clever in their use, while most puzzles have one way of solving them. All of the puzzles heavily use the Wii's motion capabilities. For the most part, the point-and-click controls are quick, intuitive, and responsive. Some of the Wiimote's controls can spaz out (including an aggrevating rhythm-based minigame) but it's a small potato.
Being a Wii game, it's preferable to turn your attention to the game's art-style as opposed to the system's graphical horsepower and the game looks amazing. It boasts a cel-shaded style with a lot of themes pertaining to high-seas shenanigans. However, many of the later levels take place in more varied locals, like ancient temples, dormant volcanos, frozen glaciers, and a haunted castle. The game lacks much VOs, the dialogue is all text with the characters emoting through various grunts, noises, garbles, shouts, etc. It's mostly tolerable, except with Wiki's voice teetering between cute squeals and shrill annoying yells.
It seems the Wii boasts some of the best games in the 7th gen, but many of them lacked proper marketing and attention. This game is clever, challenging, well-designed and is more fun than a barrel of golden helicopter monkeys. Do not underestimate this game, though, it's mid-to-late game gets rather challenging and difficult, especially the final level. This is a creative, well-made unique gem that you shouldn't miss.
Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure is available on the Nintendo Wii and is now available on the Wii U eShop for $19.99, developed and published by Capcom.