Of course, Pandora’s Tower isn’t the only game being released this month, but it’s probably the only one coming out as a result of the heartfelt pleas of thousands of fans of Japanese gaming. Like fellow Wii titles Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story, Pandora’s Tower was ignored by Nintendo of America, and it looked like it wasn’t going to make it stateside until the fans intervened and made their voices heard.
It provides relationship advice
One of the strengths of Pandora’s Tower is the relationship is establishes between the main character, ex-soldier Aeron, and his silver-haired girlfriend, Elena. When Elena becomes cursed and starts transforming into a hideous monster in the middle of the Harvest Festival, Aeron doesn’t flee in terror; on the contrary, he protects Elena and tries to find a way to free her from her curse. Alas, this isn’t enough to form an everlasting bond between the two--that’s up to you.
During the course of Pandora’s Tower you’ll need to converse with Elena and give her gifts in order for her affection for you to rise, and she’ll often give you useful items and translate old texts in return. Just like in real life, though, it’s a slow process, and if you give her the wrong gift or say the wrong thing, your relationship may deteriorate. The bond between the two characters often feels convincing, and you’ll probably soon find yourself becoming protective of Elena and wanting to ensure that she doesn’t come to any harm.
Because there was no Bionic Commando on Wii
Hey, Capcom? Why was there no Bionic Commando on Wii? We guess it doesn’t really matter, though--Pandora’s Tower is the next-best thing (or maybe even better). Aside from melee weapons such as swords and a scythe, the main tool in the Pandora’s Tower arsenal is the Oraclos Chain, a grappling-hook-like device that’s used for all kinds of gameplay purposes. You can use it to swing across gaps, grab distant items, ensnare enemies, pull yourself to out-of-reach ledges, swing foes overhead (and throw them in to other enemies), activate machines, unlock doors, and more.
Furthermore, the chain works amazingly well with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk--you simply point at the screen with the Wii Remote to aim, and then hit the B button to fire. You can play using a Classic Controller instead (in which case you aim the chain with the right stick), but this is one of the few cases where the game mechanics truly feel built from the ground up for Wii and are superior to more-traditional controls.
Killer dungeon designs
The gameplay in Pandora’s Tower focuses primarily on exploring 13 mysterious towers and destroying the huge chains that seal the door leading to each tower’s Master. Though there is a central hub, there’s no overworld to explore or towns to visit--the dungeon-like towers are where the action’s at. Good thing, then, that the elementally themed towers are very well designed, each featuring excellent layouts, clever puzzles, and cool interactive elements that make them stand apart from one another.
In Treetop Tower, for example, you’ll have to destroy giant flowers to eliminate thorn bushes that block your path; in Sheerdrop Spire you’ll have to grab pieces of ore and throw them into the wall to create grapple points; and in Wellspring Steeple you’ll manipulate giant water wheels.
Monster Flesh... it’s what’s for dinner
If you thought your school cafeteria’s cooking was questionable, just wait ‘til you get a load of what’s being served up in Pandora’s Tower. Your mission in the game isn’t just to enter each dungeon and defeat the boss. Oh, no--your goal is to use the Oraclos Chain to tear out the bosses’ central organ--known as Master Flesh--and take it back to Elena so she can feast on the pulsating purple meat. Gross? Twisted? Unsettling? You bet! However, it’s also the only way to free Elena from her monster-transformation curse, so despite the fact that she’s a vegetarian, Elena’s going to force down every chunk of juicy Master Flesh you can send her way.
And it’s not just Master Flesh that’s on the menu. Lesser enemies also give up their meat as you cut them down to size, and you’ll have to feed it to Elena as well unless you want to see her become a slimy, tentacled, cyst-covered freak. Strangely, though, the more flesh you feed Elena, the more she seems to like it. Disturbing!
The boss battles are epic
Think the Masters of each tower are just sitting around, waiting to become dinner? Think again. If you want to take their Master Flesh, you’re going to have to earn it. And it’s not just a matter of hacking and slashing--most boss fights have a puzzle element, too, and you’ll have to use both your wits and the Oraclos Chain to obliterate each behemoth boss.
Though early boss battles involve little more than dodging attacks and countering at opportune moments, you’ll quickly find the fights becoming much more involved; you’ll have to extinguish flames to expose weak spots, tear off armor to get to the Master Flesh, tether bosses to the environment to prevent them from moving, and more. There’s even one boss battle in which you’re forced to climb onto the creature’s back, Shadow of the Colossus-style.
So you’ll never be late again
There’s one more important part of the Pandora’s Tower formula: the entire time that you’re trying to conquer dungeons and swipe Master Flesh, the clock is ticking. A gauge in the lower-left corner of the screen indicates how much time is left before Elena transforms into a monster. You’ll either learn to be on time, or learn to get really familiar with the Game Over screen.
To prevent that from happening, you’ll need to periodically return to your makeshift home and feed Elena the most delectable piece of flesh you’ve collected. (Fortunately, the gauge doesn’t deplete while you’re at home.) Naturally, the time restriction adds a unique element of tension, not unlike that provided by the falling moon in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Time management at its finest!
Your Wii is just collecting dust
Admit it--you just haven’t gotten much use out of your Wii console lately. It’s not your fault; these things just sorta happen. The system had a decent run, but it’s fallen by the wayside, with only a trickle of noteworthy releases in recent years. Pandora’s Tower gives you a great excuse to take the poor thing out of mothballs, clean it off, and embark on one last gamer-oriented exclusive adventure for the aging Wii hardware.
Your Wii U is just collecting dust too
Oh, this is embarrassing. It seems that the Wii U hasn’t had many new releases either. Sure, there was Lego City Undercover and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate recently, but new titles on the system have been few and far between. So if you can’t find where you stored your Wii or you threw it out after performing the system transfer or your little brother stuffed the disc drive full of smashed-up Ritz crackers, just fire up your Wii U and take advantage of the system’s backwards compatibility.
The climb continues...
We’ve listed the biggest reasons to play Pandora’s Tower, but there are others, too--such as its item-crafting system, its mystery-filled story, and the fact that the game features five different endings. Or maybe you just want to see what all the fuss is about amongst the die-hard Nintendo fans. Whatever the case, North American players will have their chance when the game rolls out on April 16.
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