Elebits - first impressions

More Duck Hunt than Doom, Elebits sends you off in search of the eponymous creatures - tiny, electrical beings that must be collected in order to fill up the in-game watt gauge. Stages play out in three-minute bursts: the Elebits are fast-moving, and object manipulation - ranging from peeking under bowls to more complex physics-based puzzles - seems likely to play as large a part in their capture as a steady trigger finger.

The game engine has been designed entirely from the ground up, and producer Shingo Mukaitogne, (the man behind titles such as Beatmania II DX and Pop 'n' Music ) admits that it's been made with plans for re-use in mind. As befits a first-wave title for a new and ambitious platform, the game currently feels over-stuffed with elements - the detailed domestic spaces in which the Elebits lurk are intensely busy places at present.

Whether the development team can create an environment of physics-based experimentation rather than a clutter of cheap gimmickry will be crucial to the success of the finished product. Either way, it seems inevitable that the game will have to be slimmed down somewhat from its current state.

This issue aside, Elebits is on course to deliver a confident and colorful experience. The initial concept is delightful, and hunting down and corralling the elusive creatures is an instantly appealing prospect. Character and location design are both simple and attractive. Provided there's enough variation to keep the setting fresh without diluting the immediacy of the hunt, Konami's title could prove an integral part of the early Wii line-up.