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Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure (Wii) artwork

Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure (Wii) review


"Ahoy matey! Are ye ready for an exciting adventure on the high seas? Are ye ready to explore vast ruins and face terrifying monsters? Ready to best the trickiest of traps and conquer confounding contraptions? Well then, grab yer chocolate, and yer monkey, and yer wii mote and join the sky pirates in this fantastic swashbuckle of a game! Yargh! By me peg leg! "



Ahoy matey! Are ye ready for an exciting adventure on the high seas? Are ye ready to explore vast ruins and face terrifying monsters? Ready to best the trickiest of traps and conquer confounding contraptions? Well then, grab yer chocolate, and yer monkey, and yer wii mote and join the sky pirates in this fantastic swashbuckle of a game! Yargh! By me peg leg!

Zack and Wiki has STYLE, man. Sure, it might be a playful young adult style infused with Wind Waker graphics, but anyone who lets that stop them from playing the game is needlessly missing out on a great (and yes, even, swashbuckling) experience. More specifically, you'll be missing out on a classic tale of a chocolate munching sky pirate and his pet, er, monkey. Admitedly, things don't get much more complicated than that, but they don't need to be. The game carries itself well on the strength of its extroverted and pronounced characters.

Zack and Wiki's real strength lies in its gameplay. Superficially, it plays like any classic puzzle game. You're put in an environment and told to get to the golden treasure at its end. The puzzles are well designed, with numerous (but rarely obvious) solutions. If that's all Zack and Wiki was, it would be remembered as a solid puzzle game with a lot of style. What really makes it stand out is its innovative use of the Wii mote.

It's surprising, the lack of games for the Wii that actually make use of the system's major selling point: it's motion controls. Zack and Wiki, on the other hand, is all about them. Most of the puzzles in the game are solved by interacting and using objects in the stages. Whenever you examine an item of interest, the screen switches to a first person view and you are prompted to manipulate the item in real time by fiddling with your Wii mote. So, for instance, if you find a lever, you have to pull back on your Wii mote as if it were a lever. Figuring out how to manipulate each item adds another puzzle element to the game, and is quite fun besides. Add this to the already exceptional level designs and you have a enduring gaming experience.

The game offers more than just the straight puzzle, too. The boss fights, all done in puzzle fashion but with an action element, are some of my favourite in a game in the last few years. There's also a "style" system implemented which awards you points on your method of solving puzzles, that makes revisiting stages a viable (and entertaining) option.

If I had any complaints to offer, they would be leveled against the game's strange difficulty curve. Some puzzles are extremely straightforward, while others require a more roundabout approach, and often the two follow each other with no real sense of logical progression. There is a ranking system for each stage that attempts to give you an idea of the difficulty, but it seems arbitrary and mostly useless. Often, for me, it was the lower ranked levels that ended up being the most bewildering. The final stage in particular is such a leap in difficulty from the previous stages that it took me hours of playing it just to get used to the overal sense of the puzzle. On top of this, the game is fairly unforgiving. Messing up on a piece of the puzzle usually results in instant (albeit amusing) death. While there is a continue system, it costs you money to use, and it brings your score down to abysmal depths.

Even so, the game sets out to accomplish a specific goal, and it does so with a brilliant amount of style and what can only be called "pizzaz." When I finally got rid of my Wii out of frustration at the lack of "hardcore" games, Zack and Wiki was one of the few titles I was sad to leave behind. Had there been more games like this for the system, I'd probably still have it today.

Rating: 10/10

zippdementia's avatar
Community review by zippdementia (October 23, 2008)

Zipp has spent most of his life standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox there. Sometimes he writes reviews and puts them in the mailbox.

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mrmiyamoto posted October 25, 2008:

Hey, nice review. Succinct and to the point. You gave a good feel for what the game was about without inundating us with too much information. Nicely done. *picks up Zach and Wiki next time he's in town*

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