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A LoLo for the 21st century

November 20, 2007

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure Third party developers take notice: it is possible to make games for Nintendo's Wii that aren't A) pathetic ports with even more pathetic controls or B) mindless minigame collections.

Capcom's newest IP is the example all developers should go by now. Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure is a game that's exclusive to the Wii and truly takes advantage of the Wii Remote functionality will still managing to be truly original and fun all at the same time.

It should be immediately apparent to anyone who looks past the game's cartoony graphical style that a ton of thought was put into this game. It's an instantly-memorable puzzler for the 21st century, taking a page right out of the book of LoLo a superb puzzle series whose first game appeared on the NES in the 1989.

In the game, you control Zack, a young man whose only dream is to become a famous pirate. Always by his side is the flying monkey Wiki. One day, Zack stumbles upon the skull of the famed pirate Barbaros. Barbaros' body has been scattered in several places across the sea and he asks Zack to help find the pieces to his body. In return, of course, Zack is promised plenty of riches and like any good sea-faring pirate, he gladly accepts.

And so the quest begins. The game is split up into several levels, though each level is in essence a puzzle in itself. On the surface, the game looks to be nothing more than a point-and-click adventure game where you move Zack to whatever can be highlighted on the screen. But to say this is nothing more than a point-and-click game would be very, very wrong indeed. See, each level is littered with all kinds of contraptions, enemies, and items, and it's up to you to figure out how to use each item to help you progress to the level's final goal, which is always to get to the treasure chest which holds a piece of Barbaros' body.

Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' TreasureFor instance, you may see a snake lying on the ground. Most enemies in the game can be turned into a specific tool by standing near them and shaking the Wii Remote. This causes Wiki to become a bell, and the ringing from this bell causes all kinds of strange things to happen to different objects in the game. The snake becomes a glorified set of tongs, and picking it up allows you to grab things that were previously unreachable. The neat part is, you have to actually hold the Wii Remote like a set of tongs, reach forward, and press 'A' to latch onto whatever it is you're reaching for. This is but one example of the kinds of things you can do in the game. Be sure that'll you'll be turning cranks, tilting magnifying glasses, pounding with hammers, and a lot more. These actions never feel tacked-on or unnecessary though. They work well within the game and give it a lot of what makes it so unique.

Be sure that as cartoony as Zack & Wiki looks, very few youngsters are going to get far in this game at all. It's full of brain-busters galore, and you'll need every ounce of patience you can muster. Luckily, there are a few helpful additions to the game that make it a little more accessible to those who need a push in the right direction (yours truly included).

Before setting off to each new level, you can take time in your hideout, where you can visit The Oracle, who allows you to buy Oracle Dolls and Platinum Tickets using the coins you'll be gathering in each level. These items can be lifesavers, both for very different reasons. The Oracle Dolls act as hints. Offering one to the Oracle during a level will result in her showing you the next path you have to take to go further. Keep in mind though that these hints often still don't make things crystal-clear. There's not a lot that is spelled out for you in Zack & Wiki, but the hints do at least push you onto the right path. Platinum Tickets, meanwhile, come into play whenever you die. If you use a Platinum Ticket, you can start from where you failed, as opposed to starting the entire level over again (which can be very tedious, as some levels can take a half hour or more).

Each level also gets a 'HirameQ' rating. HirameQ is a fancy way of showing how difficult a level is. So a level with two HirameQ stars won't be that difficult, but one with eight most assuredly will test your mental mettle. In addition, as you solve problems in each level, you'll get HirameQ points which are then added up once you solve each puzzle and you're given a ranking. Doing things quickly, on your first try or really using your imagination will earn you more HirameQs than using a ton of Oracle Dolls and dying repeatedly.

The design of each level is fantastic and though you'll be using many of the same items in each successive level, it's not often you'll find yourself solving puzzles in the same way. You're always kept guessing and because of this, fans of the puzzle genre will be in heaven here. There are very few 'cheap' moments where once you've found the answer to a particularly tough section, you feel like there's no way you could have figured it out. Most of the time, you'll be kicking yourself for not seeing the answer in the first place.

There is also a very limited multiplayer component, where up to three other players can use different Wii Remotes to point at and highlight things, but it's mostly useless, as it's just as easy for spectators to yell out 'pick up that pot!' or 'go down those stairs.'

Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure may look like one of the most kid-like games on the Wii, but it's in fact one of the most 'hardcore' Wii titles yet. Parents and seasoned gamers alike may be fooled into thinking this is a perfect Christmas gift for their young child or sibling, but it's not.

What it is, is a challenging and superbly-crafted title from Capcom. As long as you're aware of the advanced difficulty going in, you should be in for a heck of a fun time.

Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Format: Nintendo Wii
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Official Site:

Rating: 8.0 / 10

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