It seems to be the more traditional a game is, the more difficult it is to concoct a sensible control scheme for it using the Wii Remote. Opoona realizes this and ignores the Wiimote completely; the Nunchuk is the only controller used to play the game, leaving your other hand free to stuff Cheetos into your maw. From the story, to the graphics, to the plot, the game is going for a pure and simple RPG experience. Unfortunately for Opoona, everything has to be very well thought out and extra polished for such simplicity to deliver an exciting, interesting game... and that's certainly not the case here.
The first thing you’ll notice about Opoona is the design and the characters. Stylistically the game plays to the Wii’s strengths in that it’s fundamentally simplistic but well designed with lots of colorful, well drawn characters and backgrounds. Although it’s somewhat ironic that the main characters are considered to be some of the universe’s mightiest warriors despite the fact they’re the spitting image of those old Fisher Price ‘Little People’ toys.
The battle system seems incredibly simple at first, but as you become more familiar with it lots of new tactics open up. The player controls a race of aliens know as Tizians who use small crystalline energy orbs, or bonbons, to attack their opponents. All your regular attack commands are as simple as flinging the joystick forward, backward, or to the sides. During battles your character is immobile and enemies charge at you to attack. What becomes important is determining the enemy’s movement patterns, the speed of their approach and the speed and direction at which you should launch your energy balls at them.
Opoona touts itself as a ‘Lifestyle RPG’ because of its untraditional elements such as getting a job and making friends. Stranded on the planet Landroll, the game forces you to get a job to earn your cash and contribute to the cities you visit, which is basically just a pretext to justify sending you on quests to fetch this or that and grind through enemies along the way. Annoyingly it also captures the ‘life realism’ of having to make extended, out of the way trips to government bureaus to get your licenses and assignments.
The trips are frequent and time consuming and really detract from the game experience. The already threadbare plot comes to a grinding halt every time you have to take a 10 minute detour over to the ol’ licensing office and get your job level increased. The incredibly inefficient city design is unnecessarily confusing as well, adding even more time to your errands. It’s extra frustrating that you have a wireless PDA device that constantly downloads new data and could just as easily receive the job/license info while you’re out doing the quests.
In fact, pacing seems to be the game’s biggest problem. You’ll find quests and job license requirements overlapping left and right, all of which seem to have no relation to the plot or any purpose other than to have you constantly doing something. An example: In order to get a mining license you have to help an old man impress his wife by catching a sand weasel which only appears when you agree to walk the old man’s dog through the desert. Yeah.
Opoona does boast a ton of side content though, from the optional job licenses to TV shows that are transmitted to your character’s PDA. There are loads of licenses to be earned as well, allowing you to try your hand at such jobs as mining, farming, art, music, and yes, the service industry. Finally every gamer can live out their wild fantasy of working at a fast food restaurant! Each job bases itself around a minigame like task that you will repeat for each job until you have completed enough tasks to earn the next level of your license.
Give credit to Opoona for trying to wedge a lot of new ideas into its paper thin premise, but the half baked ‘lifestyle’ elements can’t hide the fact that it’s a very simplistic and ultimately uninteresting RPG.
Mar 31, 2008