Posted on December 26, 2007, Shawn Sines Hands On: Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure
Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure
Developer: Off Base Productions
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone (Cartoon Violence)
Release Date: October 2007
“Not another Wii game based on the odd control scheme!” I thought to myself. We’ve had enough of those already and the only thing worse is a Wii game littered with mini-games and a bad story to string them together. Shortly after firing up the game though these trepidations faded and I found myself enjoying the puzzle aspect of the game and much to my own amazement the odd controller based gameplay.
Zack & Wiki Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure is a game that would not work on any of the other consoles. Despite being at its core an adventure game, this is an adventure game designed around the motion sensing nature of the Wii remote and it gets just about everything right in its attempt to involve players in the telling of its story.
The game revolves around the two title characters – the pirate in-training Zack (who reminded me, heaven forbid, of Luffy D. Monkey of One Piece fame at first – minus the poor translation) and his golden sidekick Wiki. Wiki is some sort of golden Incan flying monkey demon, and his origins play a big part in the mostly coherent plot that follows between puzzles and adventure segments in the game. The two stalwart characters find themselves stranded on a mysterious treasure filled island after a run in with a rival pirate and the cursed talking skull of the pirate king joins them in the search for his scattered bones and treasure.
On the surface the story is typical of Japanese produced games – it’s cute and silly in concept but well polished in its telling. What is more important is the impressions the game and its story leaves with you after playing. Too many titles have added gratuitous Wii remote gameplay into their control scheme without making it integral to the enjoyment. Zack & Wiki manages to make that gameplay important and importantly fun.
It was a blast to guide the two comical characters through the cute world of the game and despite my natural aversion to cute – I much prefer gritty and gothic – the personality of the world as well as the humor of the game’s dialog and situations kept me playing a lot longer than I’d have expected. Playing the game is simple. Simply point the controller to a position on screen and then Zack will move to that spot. Interacting with objects and managing the various objects in Zack’s inventory of odd things is simple and easy to teach or learn. The objects and environments themselves constitute the puzzle elements. For instance learning to use the umbrella is a matter of holding the remote properly and hitting the right button. Each level in the game has puzzles that require the correct tool to manipulate or solve them. Finding these tools is aided by the rumble feature and other visual clues.
The enemies in the world as well as the boss battles at the end of the various missions require a bit of strategy to eliminate or overcome but Zack & Wiki does a good job of keeping the challenge balanced. Visual clues will help you to figure the puzzles out though the game also offers hints for those who hit a brick wall.
Overall Zack & Wiki is a fun adventure game that demonstrates just what can be accomplished on the Wii when the system’s remote is not considered a novelty item. Designers who integrate the wand-like controller into the gameplay can make things fun. Though the story is somewhat childish and predictable overall, it also demonstrates that the Nintendo Wii is possibly the best place for a long beloved genre to re-emerge. Adventure games make a natural fit with the system and could be the stand out game type that caters to gamers who fondly remember the old heyday of Sierra Online games as well as being attractive to the newly drawn-in casual crowd.
The somewhat linear nature of the game lends itself best as an extended rental title. Purchasers will find it enjoyable but it is unlikely to be a game you repeat too frequently as the puzzle elements are somewhat static. As enthusiastically as I enjoyed the game I am giving Zack & Wiki a “Rent it” recommendation.
You can find an official network review of Zack & Wiki here.
Editor’s Note: We’ve made a decision to move away from numerical ratings of reviews. Honestly, we think our new system, which rates each game as either a Buy It!, Rent It!, or Skip It! is much more beneficial to the reader. These ratings are based on what we would do with our personal gaming budgets. Enjoy!