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Pandora's Tower (Wii) Preview

Review for Pandora

"Dying with beauty, or living with ugliness. Which would you be happier with?"

This slogan, and a sole image of a girl with a tattoo on her back, were all that were teased by Nintendo back in January when they announced Pandora’s Tower for the Wii. It seems a short time ago, but the game was released only four months later. Created by Jump Super Stars and One Piece developer Ganbarion, this Action RPG has been well received in the East. With confirmation that the game will be coming to Europe in 2012, Cubed3 takes a look at why you should be considering buying this game when it hits our shores.

Pandora’s Tower is set in the kingdom of Elysium on the continent of Graecia. A young girl named Ceres is chosen to sing at the kingdom’s harvest festival, but just as you would expect, things go wrong. Beasts begin to attack and leave Ceres unconscious. Before the guards find her and take her into custody to question what she witnessed, former soldier Ende comes to the rescue and helps her escape. A strange dwarf merchant named Graiai assists in their getaway and guides them to a safe tower.

It turns out that Ceres was cursed in the attacks; she is slowly turning into a beast herself. The only way for Ceres to relieve herself of the curse is to eat the raw flesh of beasts that reside in thirteen towers. Even worse for the poor girl, is that she comes from a vegetarian society! Using the power of the Orichalcum Chain that Ende receives from Graiai, he must venture into the towers, each of which is based on a different theme, such as water, rock and fire, and bring back the flesh of the bosses that occupy them for Ceres to reluctantly munch on. As progress is made, you will come to learn the reasons as to why Ceres has been cursed and more. The story might ring a few bells with those that have played Shadow of the Colossus.

Screenshot for Pandora's Tower on Wii

The mysterious Orichalcum Chain has the ability to tell you just how much time Ceres has left before she will turn into a beast. The timer will count down as you traverse the towers, reminiscent of Majora’s Mask, and you will need to return to her to give her the raw meat you have collected so far in order to temporarily bring her back to normal. Running out of time will result in the worst case scenario happening and ending the game...Whilst feeding her the flesh of monsters in the towers will only hold off the curse for so long, the only way to rid it for good is to bring her the chunks of meat that you rip from each tower’s boss. Each boss has a different way of being defeated, and using the chain is key to doing it.

Making the most of the chain in combat is of great importance. You can defeat enemies in a number of different styles, such as targeting their legs to trip them up, or even swinging an enemy around and throwing it off a ledge or into another fiend. Alternatively, you can restrain their body completely then hack away with your sword. As you tug on something, a gauge builds that increases the power of the chain. Fans of God of War will sense some familiarity here. If you like, you can simply hack-and-slash your way past monsters, but you will need to use the chain to rip off their flesh to add to Ceres’ feast. There is an element of strategy in how best to combine your primary and secondary weapons. Basic dodge and block controls are also available, and will need to be utilised to the fullest against bosses and tougher enemies of the game.

Screenshot for Pandora's Tower on Wii

As you progress you will gain more weapons than just the standard blade, including a dual sword and scythe. The strength of these weapons can be increased by obtaining materials that can be found throughout the towers and by defeating enemies. Bringing them to Graiai will allow them to be powered up. Weapons will also begin to crack and become damaged the more they are used, so they will need to be repaired eventually. Money is made by selling meat; the rarer the meat, the more money received for it.

The chain has other uses outside of combat too, namely in the game’s puzzle elements. In a sort of Legend of Zelda hookshot style, you can use it to grapple onto ledges and other points to pull yourself towards them and get to higher ground, swing on hooks, pull levers, and also bring out-of-reach items toward you. As may be expected with a game of this nature, the controls have been designed around using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. The pointer can be aimed at the screen to pinpoint the exact place you want Ende to throw his chain. You can even zoom in to get a closer view of specific areas to give greater accuracy. This also helps in targeting specific parts of enemies. There is support for the Classic Controller, which is very welcoming for those who prefer only button-based gameplay, although it would seem the game works best using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combination. It should be noted that you cannot control the camera; fixed camera angles are present here, with some scrolling automatically as you move to a different part of the screen.

Outside of all the dungeon crawling, there is a dating simulation aspect in Pandora’s Tower as well, which allows for a change of pacing in-between the exploring of towers. By talking to Ceres and bringing her gifts and meat, you can increase your relationship status with her. Multiple game endings can be obtained; the ones you see will depend on your level of intimacy with Ceres.

Screenshot for Pandora's Tower on Wii

Each tower has been designed beautifully, and the character models are just as good. Ceres in particular has been very well created and her emotions are portrayed vividly through her expressions. Her gradual transformations into a disgusting slimy creature really make you feel for the girl, and watching her attempt to eat her first piece of raw meat makes you cringe yourself. The story-driven narrative is fully voice acted, although main character Ende is a man of little words; this is another one of those silent protagonist titles. The reason for this could be so that the player feels more a part of the story and becomes attached to Ceres that little bit more, in turn driving you forward to help her.

Of particular interest is the game’s soundtrack, in that it features a selection of reworked versions of beautiful classical music, such as the late Franz Liszt’s Liebestraume No.3 and Verdi’s Dies Irae. The old fantasy setting of the game means these themes fit extremely well. A New Game +, multiple endings and an emotional story mean RPG fans should be very pleased with what Pandora’s Tower offers.

Screenshot for Pandora's Tower on Wii

Worth waiting for?

Pandora’s Tower seems to combine elements from a multitude of different games, including The Legend of Zelda, God of War and Shadow of the Colossus, and creates a quality Action RPG that is just what the Wii needs. Arriving in 2012 in Europe, this will be one of the final superior titles that ensure the system goes out with a bang before the Wii U arrives. North Americans will need to keep their fingers crossed for this one, but it would be disappointing if it doesn’t make its way over there, especially as it seems the Wii’s The Legend of Zelda fans will really enjoy Pandora’s Tower. Europeans can count themselves thankful and look forward to ripping the flesh off beasts and saving Ceres sometime next year.

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18.08.2011

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Developer

Ganbarion

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (7 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Preview

Senior ModeratorStaff MemberOur member of the week

Out of the three "Operation Rainfall" titles, I think to be honest, I'm most excited for Pandora's Tower. I have yet to read into The Last Story much, so that might change my opinion, but at the moment, this exploration Zelda-type action RPG really appeals to me, and the story is really interesting.

Japanese Website

This game also features some beautiful box art and official art:

Box art


Official art

Cubed3 Staff :: Senior Editor
Follow me on: Twitter | YouTube | Backloggery
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I've had the pleasure of playing all three...and as you've all read, I adore Xenoblade. Couldn't quite get into The Last Story, and Pandora's Tower...well, it looks stunning, and the action element is definitely intriguing. You can kind of tell it's Ganbarion by the fighting style of the gameplay, yet it's dripping with atmosphere. Really need to sink my teeth into both some more.

Az, your preview may well give me the nudge to dust off my discs Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff MemberOur member of the week

I'm tempted to get the JP version of Pandora to give me an idea of how it plays and feels properly. I've tried The Last Story myself, but with little knowledge of Japanese, I found it difficult to adapt to and so I need to learn more and give it another chance, maybe in English.

I've read many different people's opinions on Pandora and TLS, and many say they prefer Pandora over the latter. I think it's safe to say all three games are massive and great in their own right - the best thing would be to play them all!

jesusraz said:
Az, your preview may well give me the nudge to dust off my discs Smilie

You're welcome! Smilie

( Edited 18.08.2011 22:16 by Azuardo )

Cubed3 Staff :: Senior Editor
Follow me on: Twitter | YouTube | Backloggery
Staff Member

Awesome preview, Azuardo! Smilie Got me really excited about the game, although I already was that before as well. Smilie It really looks like it's going to be just my type of game. I'm really excited about The Last Story too though. It has that epic feel to it and the combat plus customisation elements look really fun. Co-op and competitive online multiplayer is just the icing on the JRPG cake. Smilie

( Edited 18.08.2011 22:47 by SirLink )

 

Haven't played an RPG since FF8 I think... These 3 games might just do the trick to get me back =)

I've been doing some research into the "operation rainfall" titles and can't answer one question, what happened to the market for this stuff in the West? When Final fantasy VII was released it sold upwards of 300,000 copies in it's first week. Where are those people now?

If I were to talk with any of my friends they wouldn't even be remotely interested in any of these games. It's really a damn shame... we may need a new FF VII of this generation to emerge to get them interested in this genre at all. It would have to be one ambitious title though... otherwise we will ALL be stuck playing nothing but shooter. Because that's what sells in the West and so that's what investors will want these companies to make.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I think that sadly there were several run-of-the-mill efforts after that, and the market shrunk almost as quickly as it grew. FFVII, VIII and IX were the big ones, but Square Enix hasn't had that many huges smashes in Europe. Even Dragon Quest VIII struggled. The biggest breakthrough in recent years has been DQIX and that was thanks to Nintendo's massive marketing push. Even Monster Hunter 3 only did 'so-so'...

Some smaller stores are experiencing shortages of Xenoblade at the moment, which is a decent sign. Sadly, there are also people struggling to play the game.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

jesusraz said:
Some smaller stores are experiencing shortages of Xenoblade at the moment, which is a decent sign. Sadly, there are also people struggling to play the game.

Will travel tomorrow to a larger city to get a hold of my own copy of Xenoblade, and hopefully some French distributor was clever enough to make a strategy guide for it, which I could use since the game is so HUGE Smilie.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer
LunaLuma (guest) 26.08.2011 10:52#9

The box art looks incredibly sexy!!!!

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