Pandora's Tower (Wii) Review

By Adam Riley 10.04.2012

Review for Pandora

Nintendo of Europe may well have overlooked intriguing Wii games such as Captain Rainbow, Takt of Magic, Zangeki no Reginleiv and Fatal Frame: Tsuki Hami Kamen, but in the past six or so months it has attempted to redeem itself with an onslaught of niche RPG adventures, such as Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and now Pandora’s Tower, all of which most presumed would never be localised. With Monolith Soft’s grandiose RPG scoring full marks and Hironobu Sakaguchi-san’s answer to Final Fantasy landing a 9/10, how does the Ganbarion-developed Action RPG fare?

The temptation to call Pandora’s Tower a ‘beast’ of a game is extremely strong, and the reason why is purely based upon the fact that the lead female in Ganbarion and Nintendo’s latest collaboration -- following the resounding Jump Super Stars and Jump Ultimate Stars on DS -- has been cursed; emblazoned with a evil mark that results in her losing her human form and instead turning into a grotesque being intent on mass destruction of the land, and people, she most loves. It is up to players, in the role of the unfortunately bland hero, Aeron, to seek out chunks of monster flesh for her to consume in order to keep the curse at bay, whilst also delving deep into numerous puzzling towers to track down ‘Masters’ (the boss of each tower), slay them using a mixture of magical chain and traditional weapon, then watch in either delight or disgust -- dependent on your proclivities -- as she devours its pulsating purple flesh, thus breaking down the plague in stages.

The whole concept is absolutely insane in a Silent Hill sort of way, yet without plenty of sexually-themed monsters gyrating around, and with an actual modicum of sense to proceedings. Unlike Monolith Soft and Mistwalker’s ostentatious tales, Pandora’s Tower keeps everything a little more in check, open up bit by bit via tomes that can be found whilst perusing the plethora of rooms within the dastardly towers. For the most part there are merely three main characters, Aeron the hero, Elena the innocent-turned-demonic-abomination, and Mavda…the weird hunchbacked witch-like being that has a massive old man attached to ‘her’ back. Whilst it may sound too insular, it is the compact feel of the adventure that oddly appeals, with it definitely giving off the impression of being alone and up against a world that wants to abolish the potential threat Elena poses without bothering to search for a cure.

Screenshot for Pandora's Tower on Wii

The observatory where Elena and Mavda reside acts as the central hub where Aeron can store items, buy/sell goods, create and upgrade weapons, rest up, learn more about the world around him and the mysteries of the towers he must navigate, as well as simply interact with his true beau, the fragile young lady who would otherwise be lost without her gallant Athosian knight in shining armour. To obtain one of the five different endings and unlock extra cut-scenes, wooing her with gifts, entering into polite chit-chat, and showing appreciation for the housework and activities she does whilst you are busily carving out the innards of some beast in the battlefield, all go towards increasing the bond between the two. Sometimes, though, it proves more amusing to see her reaction when given some random object that bears no relevance to romance!

The core action comes from the Castlevania-esque dungeon exploration book of tricks, however, and the impressive battle mechanic where a special, magical Oraclos chain can be used to latch onto enemies and tie them down, join two together, hook them onto inanimate objects, rip pieces off beasts, tear down defences, and even quickly unlock door mechanisms for a quick getaway where possible. This is combined with the use of standard, upgradeable weaponry, such as the sword that can be charged up for delivering a devastating blow to anything within a close proximity. The chain itself can be charged up as well by holding the ‘B’ trigger to zoom in, tapping ‘A’ to grab onto an enemy and then pull in the opposite direction using the analogue stick for as long as possible before giving the Wii Remote a short, sharp motion jerk to burst through them. Quick shots of the chain can also work to zap flying critters out of the sky, or even drag objects around and launch Aeron across gaping chasms by swinging from protrusions dotted around. The versatility of the chain is phenomenal.

Screenshot for Pandora's Tower on Wii

In terms of controls for Pandora’s Tower, whereas it is possible to make use of the Classic Controller or Classic Controller PRO, unlike Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story, the use of the Wii Remote pointer system to lock onto targets with the chain works far more smoothly, with the Nunchuk acting perfectly for intricate movement around locations and the dodging of deadly blows. Pandora’s Tower may only have just over a dozen towers to investigate, yet everything is played against an in-game timer, and repeat visits to the same tower are certainly the order of the day. Thankfully, the amount of back-tracking involved to quickly work through a level to find some flesh and then return to the Observatory to see Elena force herself to gulp down the entrails, is countered by how intuitive the almost point-and-click chain attack system works and the sheer depth of the thirteen towers that open up one-by-one.

There may be no lengthy side-quests to venture into, nor an overwhelming number of non-playable characters to interact with, yet the masterful core essence of Pandora’s Tower resonates through its every twist and turn, and the grandeur of the maze-like towers, with their multi-layered puzzles-within-puzzles style structure is remarkable indeed, and unlocking all aspects of the towers is only possible by revisiting at varying times throughout the journey.

Screenshot for Pandora's Tower on Wii

The subtle nuance of love and desperation in the air when Aeron and Elena converse is first-rate, encouraging players to work deeper and deeper into the treacherous structures, each time faster than before, until sweeping through corridors and conundrum-filled rooms is almost like second nature in an attempt to swiftly retrieve more lifeblood for the damsel in distress, keeping her mutation-free long enough to reach the ultimate conclusion and break another chain in the terrible bond the curse with her.

Although not the prettiest of Wii games out there on the market today, Pandora’s Tower makes up for its lack of graphical finesse with the imagination of its beasts and the intricately crafted dungeons that must be explored. It does, however, boast yet another successful batch of English voiceovers, as well as some fantastical music that expertly complements the atmosphere in every way, even mixing in some classic pieces from the likes of Verdi and Tchaikovsky.

Screenshot for Pandora's Tower on Wii

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Many will look at Pandora’s Tower as being the weakest of the three Wii RPGs, with Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story easily making Ganbarion and Nintendo’s effort seem unworthy of attention. However, such a judgement would be unjust, since this Action RPG takes a totally different slant, offering an almost 3D Castlevania and Metroid feel to proceedings, mixing in a pleasant love story and a brilliantly smooth battle system that will widen its appeal. Pandora’s Tower certainly can stand proud amongst its fellow genre stablemates.






Real Time RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

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   


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