Zack & Wiki - updated hands-on

Aug 31, 2007

Pirates don't solve puzzles, grannies do. This complaint aside, there's plenty to enjoy in Capcom's point-and-click evolution. Why evolution? The point-and-click movement may herald back to the age of Guybrush Threepwood, but the item interaction needed to solve conundrums most certainly does not.

Hands-on time has allowed us to get to grips with these new mechanics. Each stage is built around a treasure-snatching objective. Reaching it involves completing an A to B to C chain of events. A chest may be in plain view, but getting your mitts on the booty inside (you're collecting body pieces of the titular Barbaros) involves smiting the fish that guards the plug, that plugs the well, that holds the floating key. It's a somewhat archaic kind of puzzle-solving mentality - not that we're saying this is automatically a bad thing.

Solving always comes down to applying items in the environment. When doing so, they slide into Zack's hand and you have to deduce which hand movement is required to progress. Turning a winch, scooping up water, sawing back and forth, playing a flute - not tricky, but in no way signposted either. If WarioWare was the ad for remote application, then this is it in action.

Interactions can feel relatively minigame-ish. Shaking the remote to reel in a fish - when it's not struggling - is well-trodden minigame territory and sliding worms on to hooks is reasonably reminiscent of Cooking Mama.

We're clearer on your monkey-chum Wiki's role. Shake the remote and his bell tolls, stunning enemies (ghosts and cannibal teddies) and transforming others into objects. Worms become straws and frogs morph into amphibian explosives, which come in handy for rolling down ramps into enemies.

Longevity is the only issue. Forty hours are promised, but despite a few punishing puzzle failures we're struggling to see how this could be true. A minor quibble, however. This is shaping up into a premium Wii title and, frankly, we were in love with it the moment we got our hands on it. Look for a review mid-October.