Dewy's Adventure (Wii) review
"The Wii Remote controller is held sideways, like a classic NES controller, and your motions theoretically determine where the hero—a drop of water—rolls. I say 'theoretically' because a slight flick of the wrist could be enough to make him edge along a precipice, or it could have no apparent impact at all, or it could send him careening forward and to his doom. The sense that you're in full control never really hits home because the minute you start to feel confident, an unexpected fumble comes along that craps all over the notion."
One time I was boiling water in a kettle and I noticed that some sort of leaf--I'm thinking a tiny bit of parsley or something similar--had somehow wound up in the bubbling liquid. I decided that I didn't really want it there, so I took a wooden spoon and tried dipping into the mixture to retrieve the errant vegetation. Every time my utensil came close to extracting it, though, the leaf drifted away and deeper into the tumultuous water. I must have almost had it 10 or 15 times, but I never quite succeeded. Finally, I just gave up, frustrated and a little embarrassed that I'd spent so long in the effort.
Dewy's Adventure on the Nintendo Wii is a lot like what you might get if you took my miserable experience at the stove and combined it with Elebits (the development team's previous effort). The similarities to that title are immediately apparent as you're introduced to a young village boy who meets a lady under a sickly tree outside town. She speaks of a magical kingdom that was saved from disaster by a special droplet of water named Dewy. Summoned forth by a sentient tree, Dewy embarked on a grand adventure and ultimately saved his world. Now, years later, he's returned to battle a new evil: more pollution. Familiar watercolor portraits tell the simplistic tale efficiently, and the irritating voice acting (so incredibly awful it's almost good) from Elebits also returns. If you grow nauseous over how sweet everything is, though, know that it's an omen of things to come.
The minute you gain control of Dewy and start leading him through a central village that serves as the game's level hub, you'll sense that something isn't right. If you've ever slid an egg yolk around a frying pan, you know about how he controls. The Wii Remote controller is held sideways, like a classic NES controller, and your motions theoretically determine where the hero--a drop of water--rolls. I say 'theoretically' because a slight flick of the wrist could be enough to make him edge along a precipice, or it could have no apparent impact at all, or it could send him careening forward and to his doom. The sense that you're in full control never really hits home because the minute you start to feel confident, an unexpected fumble comes along that craps all over the notion.
That's unfortunate, since the world Dewy will explore is beautiful and worth seeing. The vibrant, earthy tones wouldn't be out of place in a Nickelodeon special (a fact that also holds true of the infectious but repetitive music you'll hear in the background). It's cheery and kid-friendly. Enemies sprout forth from the soil like vegetation, and when you free captured inhabitants from giant cages spaced throughout the world, the explosion of color is simply marvelous. If only accomplishing such feats weren't so tedious!
A stage begins with Dewy at the base of an area he will climb, or perhaps at its peak. From there, he'll glide through simple obstacles until he comes either to an enemy encounter or a puzzle. Both are handled by manipulating Dewy's temperature. Increase it and he'll become a misty cloud capable of raining lightning on his foes. Decrease it and he turns into a frozen, whirling top. That'll cut right through enemy defenses, especially if they're stunned from an electrical charge the moment before. Even in his default form, Dewy somehow can hip slam. Finally, shaking the controller up and down summons gusts of wind, while left-and-right spasms generate earthquakes. Armed with such environmental assistance, the heroic little droplet of water has nothing to fear but bottomless pits.
There are plenty of those throughout the adventure, unfortunately. Even early in the game, you'll regularly find Dewy falling (or sliding, or jumping) into one. Narrow scaffolding suspended high in the air are common, as are moving ledges. Since jumps and shuffles tend to be unpredictable, it's possible to fall in the same pit a few times before you figure out what it'll take to move onward. Dewy has a limited life meter at the start of the game (which is upgraded as you find items throughout the zones), so a few mistakes will result in a 'game over' screen and a trip back to the start of the stage. If you're like me, that's the point where you start wondering if it's really worth continuing.
The developers clearly don't realize what a problem they have on their hands, either. They offer three tilt sensitivities, but none of them are thoroughly comfortable. Then they designed stages around precision sliding. For example, the third stage in the Jolty Jungle area includes a mini-boss near its conclusion. He rides around on a frog and you have to knock against him with Dewy in his ice form without bouncing away on an airborne assault and into a pit. The battle itself isn't that difficult, but then you have to flip a series of three switches, one at a time. Each one creates a rainbow trail you must ride over a bottomless pit, and you only have a certain amount of time to make the windy crossing. If you succeed, you've finished the stage, but it just feels cheap. Who makes a game with sloppy controls, then populates it with levels that require precise movement?
For the persistent, Dewy's Adventure does at least provide some incentive to keep going. Each stage you complete is timed, so you can try to advance more quickly and you can go back to grab the items you might have missed. There also are occasional boss encounters, and these are actually quite fun if you can get the hang of controlling Dewy quickly enough. Finally, the developers threw in a multi-player battle mode, and you can collect parts and other goodies that can be accessed from a 'goodies' menu. If you fall in love with what's here, you at least can enjoy it for a long while.
Unfortunately, everything comes back to controlling Dewy. No matter how you slice it, that integral part of the game is broken. Even if you've done just fine with games like Super Monkey Ball 3 and Kororinpa, something here feels wrong. Do you really want to battle that just to spend another few hours slipping and sliding around narrow ledges and solving simple puzzles that are generally overcome with a few shakes of the controller? Adults will almost certainly say 'no,' a sentiment children are likely to echo. The ideas driving Dewy's Adventure are good and had the potential to produce a great game. They just didn't.
Staff review by Jason Venter (October 20, 2007)
Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.
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