Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure (Wii) Review

By Adam Riley 03.02.2008 19

When the Wii came out, most adventure game fans screamed that the control system would be perfectly suited to old school PC point-and-click games. Nobody would have guessed that Capcom would be first out of the blocks to bring something like that to the system, though. But Zack & Wiki is now here and a new love story has commenced. Or has it? Considering the game takes a more puzzle-focused approach than developing the storyline, will this merely prove to be a let-down for gamers thinking this is the answer to their adventuring prayers or will its overall quality win them over? Let us take a closer look to find out...

The game kicks off by introducing us to the various main characters in the game, flying through the air, looking for ways to make a living by uncovering hidden treasure and selling it on for a hefty profit. The cast is rather forgettable, though, with the only ones of real note being the protagonist Zack and his faithful flying monkey friend, Wiki, both of whom you get to control early on in a quick puzzle that must be solved as your plane comes under attack and you are forced to bail out. This then leads players on to the meat of the (rather lightweight) story, as upon crash-landing, Zack and Wiki stumble on a buried treasure chest that contains the head of legendary pirate, Barabaros. A deal is struck and in return for piecing his whole body back together, he promises to bestow them with his ship. And so the premise is set and off they go on an adventure to uncover each and every part of the scary-looking pirate king.

The game's presentation style is one of a cel-shaded nature, which many will automatically associate with The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker from the GameCube, and to be honest, whilst attractive, this never quite lifts itself much higher than a polished GC title. Everything certainly exudes vibrant colours and wreaks of personality, though, which tied in with the fact that it looks far better than 90% of the Third Party efforts out there right now anyway, makes Quest for Barbaros' Treasure all the more visually appealing. Even the soundtrack aspect of the game is impressive in some regards, with certain tunes that definitely add to the atmosphere of the game. However, much of the music is instantly forgettable and, on top of this, sadly Capcom chose to not fully-voice the game, instead opting for the odd line of Japanese slipped in amongst a bunch of garbled, constantly repeated noises. Whilst possibly 'cute' the first few times you hear the character snippets, very quickly they will drive you insane. The game's sequel should certainly rectify this...

Screenshot for Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure on Wii

But for now let us focus on this and just how striking it actually is. Those jumping in hoping for something akin to the fantastic Broken Sword, Monkey Island, or even The Longest Story, like myself, will honestly be disappointed, as sadly Zack & Wiki only aligns itself with those games in that it uses a point-and-click mechanic for moving Zack around (a feature that, for the most part, works extremely well, other than when you need to move quickly thanks to accurately pointing whilst the camera moves is a pain in the neck). The basic set up of each stage is one large puzzle, kind of like The Crystal Maze, for those that remember it, except there is no bald, ex-Rocky Horror Show host or crazy mother character hidden in the level, ready to offer advice! But the roots of the game do indeed stem from the same idea, with the player being placed down in the middle of an unknown area and left to figure things out without nary a hint or clue in many cases and several penalties for any wrong moves.

Wiki's role, you may be wondering, is to be pretty useless other than for one key talent – he can shake a bell really well. Simply waft the controller around like crazy and you will be tinkling more than someone with a weak bladder (*groan* ...sorry). Why ring a bell, though? Well, other than getting rid of evil spirits found in treasure boxes, it transforms inanimate objects into animate ones and vice versa, thus proving to be a vital part of each stage, as various tools and weapons imperative to progressing are unavailable until you transform the creatures littering an area. And on the flipside, manipulating the structure of solid objects into moving beings can be equally advantageous when attempting to plunder the level’s treasure. An early example would be creating a saw by waggling at a monster that jumps out of a nearby tree, thus giving you the opportunity to then chop said tree down and then cross over it...

Screenshot for Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure on Wii

...Which brings us nicely onto the clever use of the Wii motion controls in the game. Throughout the adventure, players will be faced with a diverse array of tasks that involve movement of the Wii Remote, such as pushing forwards and backwards repeatedly in this example of sawing through a tree trunk. Other such wonders include turning keys in the same manner as in Metroid Prime 3, rotating the controller in the desired direction to unlock doors, or turning it on its side and whacking like a hammer or even flicking your wrist to cast a fishing line. Whilst the actions could very easily have felt tacked on, the integration of the gesture system works seamlessly in tandem with the main stock of the game. There is the odd time when a motion might not be recognised on the first attempt, but nine-times-out-of-ten everything goes without a hitch.

Each stage can be completed in a variety of ways, meaning the advancement through a level proves to be nice and diverse, yet care needs to be taken with the methods used, as for each false move, the player is penalised by either a loss of points for the level, or even death at some points (leading to a simple re-start of the level, or 'continue' if you bought special tokens). To try and counter this, Capcom has strived to simplify matters so as to make Zack & Wiki as accessible as possible, with Zack only able to carry one item at a time, rather than amassing too many, leaving the player unsure which to choose from. However, on the other hand, if you know you need to use two or more items on the other side of a stage and must trek all the way backwards and forwards to carry each one at a time, it can end up being a tiresome chore. It is obviously swings and roundabouts, though. Also, there hidden elements around certain stages, such as a musical mini-game where you need to shake the Wii controller in time with the on-screen prompts, which appear to the tune of famous old Capcom titles, such as Mega Man. On the whole, the whole game is a joy to play through if you approach with the right attitude, and is certainly the freshest experience on Wii so far, for which Capcom should most certainly be applauded.

Screenshot for Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure on Wii

Yet when it comes to the topic of 'value for money' the situation becomes rather sticky. Zack & Wiki does offer up a wide selection of puzzles over a large number of different locations, complete with all the special extras hidden within many of the levels. Still, the difficulty seems to vary far too much occasionally, going from ridiculously simple to overly frustrating, which can make progress extremely arduous in places. In addition, sometimes deaths feel rather cheap, as if the developer made specific puzzles extremely awkward just for the sake of extending the adventure a bit more. Whatever the case, once the game's twenty-four stages have been breezed through there is little reason to come back, unfortunately. The draw of beating high score totals is not particularly strong, in all honesty due to it not being that sort of competitive game, and the hidden elements are not always that satisfying. But the core game is so enjoyable for the majority of the adventure that most will be satisfied with that alone and will be glad they took the risk on such a game.

Screenshot for Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure on Wii

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Zack & Wiki definitely has the potential to be a rip-roaringly fun series on Wii if Capcom next time chooses to flesh out the story more and refine the control system even more. But for now what we have is still a downright enjoyable adventure/puzzle romp that has one or two minor niggles that could very well put many players off, but will remain fun in the long-run. Definitely be sure to give this a whirl to experience one of the most unique Wii games released so far.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10 (18 Votes)

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


Great review! About some of the puzzles being frustrating though, I personally never really found any of them *too* frustrating but there were quite a few which had me thinking for ages only to laugh after suddenly realizing just how obvious the solution was.Smilie

Did that happen to anybody else?

Early on I found the Ice Boss puzzle a real pain in the neck. I knew what to do, but it just proved to be very awkward at times, especially as it was kind of time-based.

But on the whole I loved it - great variety throughout. However, I couldn't help but think it could have been so much better. Wish it had a decent story and good building up of the other characters.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

I really should pick this up, looks awesome!

Trying to think of a witty signature after 'Hacker-gate'...

I'm simply stunned at how well it's been doing in the UK (this and Ghost Squad). I expected it to sink without a trace, but it's carved out a decent Top 20 position for itself over the past two weeks!

I wonder where it will be in tomorrow's update?

Anyway, who else here has played this?

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

jesusraz said:
Early on I found the Ice Boss puzzle a real pain in the neck. I knew what to do, but it just proved to be very awkward at times, especially as it was kind of time-based.

But on the whole I loved it - great variety throughout. However, I couldn't help but think it could have been so much better. Wish it had a decent story and good building up of the other characters.

Yeah, the Ice Boss puzzle took me quite a few attempts to get right. The puzzle seems to change somewhat each time you retry the stage. And I agree, some things could've been done better, for sure. Hopefully, Capcom will do a sequel and flesh it out a bit more story-wise.

'Zack & Wiki' has the same potential as some like 'Sam & Max'. As the director said in C3's interview, a DS version would work very well as well and a sequel is being considered (if sales are decent enough).

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

I picked this up when it first came out state-side, and I still have to beat it (I have 15 parts, I think I have 2 stages left). But it's been great fun to play. I can't play more than two hours straight, though. I hate to die and start over (it gets frustrating after 4 or 5 times),and some puzzles are quite long. But overall an 8 is a fair score. The graphics and animations are really polished, one of the best on the Wii.

EDIT: Oh, I just noticed I'm a Peahat Larva... Interesting.

( Edited 04.02.2008 08:00 by charwiimario )

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That's just what I mean, charwiimario - glad I'm not the only one that thought that. Constant deaths or losing points for trying something simple only to find it's the wrong choice gets annoying at times. But it's still such fun overall that you come back to it afterwards...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Picked this up at the weekend an am absolutely loving it. The point and click interface is great, and they've really managed to keep it wonderfully simple and clean (btw, it seems to me that you can hold down the A button and move Zack around a bit more like Link in Phantom Hourglass, which helps when you need to move quickly).

Can't say I agree about the frustration (although I'm perfectly willing to believe that that might change). I think that's the thing with puzzle games of this type. Some levels might be frustrating for some people, but not for others. You can easily get stuck in a mental block, trying to do something that actually turns out to be a red herring, that might not have occurred had you noticed a different item first, or moved a different way.

I also think it's perhaps a bit unfair to criticise the game for lack of story. Is it trying to provide a detailed story and be like Monkey Island? I don't think so. It's a puzzle game, closer in spirit to Lemmings than Monkey Island. It's all about the puzzles, not the story.

Thanks for the review, and for keeping it as spoiler free as possible.

"This man has advanced communist views ... He dresses in a bohemian fashion both at his office and in his leisure hours."

I really enjoyed the puzzles where the solution was extremely simple and I somehow overlooked it.

There was however one time when the solution seemed to require me to do something which went against everything I had learned of how to solve puzzles in the game. I was stuck for so long on this I looked it up and was very disappointed that it had nothing to do with any aspect of the level or the items in the level. (snake down a hole)

Other than that it was a fun game, the non-timed levels were the best though.

Dr_R said:
I also think it's perhaps a bit unfair to criticise the game for lack of story. Is it trying to provide a detailed story and be like Monkey Island? I don't think so. It's a puzzle game, closer in spirit to Lemmings than Monkey Island. It's all about the puzzles, not the story.

Yes, it would have been unfair to knock marks off because of that, which is why I didn't. I just mentioned it as one of the aspects I really hope is developed next time as there is a lot of potential with the game for the future Smilie

Thanks for the review, and for keeping it as spoiler free as possible.

No problem. Always a tricky thing to do with this sort of game!

Kamakaze said:
...the non-timed levels were the best though.

Definitely agree with you there...The exploration and discovery is a main draw, so having to rush certain things detracts from the experience at times.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

im only 4 missions in and im loving every moment of it!!!

this is by far one of the jems in the Wii's crown and amazing puzzle adventure game

I just got an e-advert from Nintendo and even it is pushing this as a PC point-and-click adventure...that's what I'm worried about, as it's not really as developed as classic PC-style adventures at all.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

This game is gorgeous in every way. I absolutely love it and would probably put it on a 9 myself, though I understand your reasons for not doing so. It has a nice visual sense of humour, and the puzzles haven't gotten frustrating for me at all. Confused, yes, but they have the sign that they're well made to me - you think 'of course!' after most of them after toiling over them for ages. My only real issue is with the bell-ringing musical mini-game - not because it's particularly difficult, but because of how hard you have to shake the remote to do it. Made my arm ache!

EDIT: And the animation is fantastic; like watching a cartoon. I want a sequel now...

( Edited 04.02.2008 23:42 by Mason )

I'm with Mason. My fave game in recent months. I simple adore the graphics and hope the not so explosive sales don't put Capcom off making a sequel.

I find the Bell Ringing game fun. I look like a mad man doing it but enjoy it still.Smilie

I really love this game, it's so much fun to play and the characters are so cute! (especially Wiki!!)

Co-founder of the PDSLB - Pink DS Lite Buddies Fraz: Cheerios are made from fairy orgasms.

Awesome Review!
I always liked this game

( Edited 07.02.2008 09:50 by zcollvee )

My Life & blog: Random Thoughts, Photos, stuff, videos and links

Excellent review! Have gotta try this, though still weary about it. Will probably try it sometime on the cheap Smilie

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Finally got this yesterday, and then spent a couple of hours playing last night.
My wife sat beside me and it was great fun solving the puzzles together (although slightly spoilt by her insistence on drawing rude symbols with the second remote whenever I got stuck!)

Agree with Mason's comment above, one of the things I said was that it's like playing a cartoon, the animation is so fluid.

A good review - and I, like many others, am looking forward to a sequel - please don't let us down, Capcom.

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