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Code Lyoko: Quest for Infinity (Wii) artwork

Code Lyoko: Quest for Infinity (Wii) review

"Aside from being counter-intuitive, these moves feel like a chore. In any other game, even some really bad games, the wave-your-hand-like-you-just-don’t-care attacks are active at all times. It might not make much sense to waste time attacking when there’s nothing to attack. But that’s what gamers are used to. We’ve become accustomed to certain elements, primarily those that allow us to do whatever we want, whenever we want."

There’s a reason why licensed games – those that originated from a non-video game property (such as books, movies, and TV) – have an ongoing stigma against them. You can blame it on the overly high expectations that come with such a title, but the fact of the matter is that most of these games suck. If they’re not boring, they’re problematic. If they’re not problematic, they’re not playable. And if they’re not playable, who in their right mind would ever go near them?

Code Lyoko: Quest for Infinity, the second game based on the fairly popular Code Lyoko series, has a better heritage than most. Having already impressed gamers with a solid release on the Nintendo DS, Quest for Infinity was able to dodge some of the fears associated with these kinds of games. The promoted content – four playable characters, Wii-exclusive enemies, motion controls – gave it another edge over, say, The Golden Compass. Or 24, Alias, Catwoman, Superman or any of the other lousy, property-butchering titles released in the past two years.

The problem with Code Lyoko’s initial success is that it set a new standard. The problem with standards is that we feel every mistake when they are not met. Like so many games in this scenario (even those without an exterior license), Quest for Infinity suffers greatly from its inability to deliver what we crave. But that isn’t the only place where things went wrong.

Building on the series’ premise, Quest for Infinity stars Ulrich, Yumi, Odd and Aelita, four heroes dedicated to saving the world. To accomplish that goal, they’ll travel – via computer – to a world that’s reminiscent of The Matrix, minus the ongoing threat of being eaten alive by strange creatures and man-made machines. You are in danger, but the danger isn’t immediate. Most enemies are tame, some are stationary, and others come dressed in a large suit of armor to appear more ferocious than they really are. It’s nothing a flick of the wrist can’t take care of.

At first, the controls seem pretty competent. Using the Wii remote and nunchuck attachment, Quest for Infinity moves like any other action/adventure. The thumbstick controls your character’s movements while the A button is used for jumping. Odd and Aelita, the only two characters that are capable of firing projectiles, should remind players of the last Chicken Little game. Simply point the remote at the screen and tap the 'B' button to fire. It’s not rocket science, but there’s no room for complaints. Projectiles are an invaluable tool, and not just because of the attack benefits. They will also help solve the door and force field puzzles, a task you’ll be performing often.

If you could stop there and walk away, the game would make a nice Virtual Console download. But as a full-fledged release, you’re bound to keep playing, and that’s when the motion sickness begins to develop. Quest for Infinity is one of those titles that fell victim to the belief that you can’t be a Wii game without utilizing its motion functionality. It’s true, we do expect it, frequently request it, and are often disappointed when a game doesn’t have it. But it’s much worse to throw in a dozen shaking and pointing mechanics just to fill a quota or to have something to say in a press release.

Ulrich’s primary attack, which is executed by holding the 'B' button and shaking the remote, must be performed at close range. That’s not exactly a sweeping statement, but there’s a catch. You can only perform the attacks when standing near an enemy or destructible object. The same is true for Yumi, whose projectile attack is only active when in the presence of an enemy. Odd and Aelita can fire their projectiles any time they wish, but Yumi cannot.

Aside from being counter-intuitive, these moves feel like a chore. In any other game, even some really bad games, the wave-your-hand-like-you-just-don’t-care attacks are active at all times. It might not make much sense to waste time attacking when there’s nothing to attack. But that’s what gamers are used to. We’ve become accustomed to certain elements, primarily those that allow us to do whatever we want, whenever we want. You don’t need to jump all the time in Super Mario Bros. But can you imagine what the game would have been like if Nintendo had only allowed us to do so when standing near a platform?

Not satisfied with the usual shake-to-attack implementation, Quest for Infinity goes the extra step by applying other motion-based moves. Need to climb a massive structure by hopping between two walls? Shake the remote and try to ignore the voices in your head.

Wait, not that way, the other way. No, you’re doing it wrong. Stop, you’re gonna fall again! Can’t you get it right? Ahhhhhh!

Need to build a bridge? Point to the dots on the screen and slowly drag the remote across them. Slower. Really slow! Darn, now you’ve messed up! What’s wrong with you?

Hey, is that a thin, tightrope-inspired area that has to be crossed? It looks like you need to hold the remote steady to keep from falling off. Go slow. Slower…and steadier! Oh you’re never going to get it. Why don’t you just give up?

Quest for Infinity seeks redemption in the form of a Star Fox-style mini-game where you explore the digital sea. This on-rails shooter controls surprisingly well. That could be attributed to lack of nunchuck involvement. You’ll use the remote to point and fire, similar to a lightgun shooter. But the pointer also moves your ship, which must evade enemy attacks.

Unfortunately, the thrills don’t last. Again, you can’t attack outright – you must hold the 'B' button to lock-on to enemy ships, and then release to fire. You might think you can just rapidly press the 'B' button to fire, since that is what our industry has taught us. That would have likely been the case if this game had bothered to follow the rules, or good-old fashioned logic.

While Quest for Infinity has its share of motional conundrums, the game is completely without a movable camera. Sure, it moves – on its own. You can’t tweak it, influence it, or alter it in any way. Looking back, we all can come up with a great game or two that did the same thing. This one, however, seems to have been designed with a little guidance in mind. When walking toward the edge of any of the game’s strange worlds, you will see the camera jerk and spin in opposite directions. It’s as if the camera wants the player to take charge. But you can’t. All you can do is watch as the view changes spontaneously and incoherently, jittering occasionally but with an inconsistent pattern like a guy that doesn’t know when to stop chugging Red Bulls.

The final blow is dealt by dull and repetitive level designs, boring missions, and a bland display of visuals. I could see where diehard Code Lyoko fans would be amused by the story, which fosters character discussions with an easy point-and-click system. But you wouldn’t watch a TV show when seeking interactive content, so why buy a game if all you really desire is another episode of Code Lyoko?


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Freelance review by Louis Bedigian (January 08, 2008)

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