E3 '07: Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure Hands-On
The recipe for game success: fun puzzles and a flying monkey. This Capcom adventure game has both, and we've got a first look from E3.
Previously known by the codename of Project Treasure Island Z, Capcom's newly renamed Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure is a Wii-only puzzle game that features a wannabe pirate (that's Zack) and his magical monkey sidekick (that would be Wiki) in an original adventure game that makes generous use of both the Wii's unique control scheme and your own puzzle-solving skills. We had a chance to see an updated build of the game at Capcom's E3 booth to see how the game is coming along.
The storyline follows Zack and Wiki as they travel through seven distinct worlds, each comprised of several different levels of puzzles. The two are looking to resurrect the fabled pirate Barbaros, who, once he's revived, will provide the pair with access to untold riches. To revive him, they need to collect pieces of treasure, which is the ultimate goal of practically every level in the game. These pieces are typically hidden in treasure chests and, in order to gain access to those chests, you'll need to solve each level's multiple puzzles.
Controlling Zack is as easy as pointing a star-shaped icon with the Wii Remote and pushing the A button; Zack will automatically run to the area indicated, followed closely by Wiki (who can hover by using his tail like a helicopter rotor). The star icon will also indicate areas of the level you can interact with--when you pass over an item you can use, the star icon will change color to pink; after you press the A button, you'll be taken to an interactive scene where you use the Wii Remote in a number of different ways to interact with whichever object is in front of you.
In the demo, we saw two levels--in the first, Zack and Wiki started out on a high ledge, with a wooden gondola being the only access between two cliffs on either side of the map. The treasure chest stood on a cliff all on its own in the middle of the map, and down below a tribe of cartoon natives were chanting in some sort of primitive religious ceremony. The goal, of course, was to get to the treasure chest without attracting the attention of the natives, who had a big boiling pot in which they would toss any would-be interlopers.
To use the gondola to move from one cliff to another, you simply clicked on the gondola itself and then used a turning motion with the Wii Remote to simulate the cranking of the gears as it moved across the ropes. Because the natives were on high alert, the game gave you clues as to when you should crank the gear and when you should stop--if you moved while the natives were looking, it was game over. Pretty soon it was clear that something would have to be done about the tribe of baddies down below in order to give Zack and Wiki enough time to grab the treasure. That's where the puzzle-solving came in.
After digging a hole in the ground at a certain spot, Zack came upon a few magical mushrooms. You discover that if you can manage to sneak the 'shrooms into the pot of water, and then draw the natives to it, they'll be knocked out temporarily, giving you time enough to use the gondola to access the treasure chest. It takes some careful planning, and some quick use of the Wii Remote to drop the mushroom in the pot, run up the vine to escape the hordes of bad guys chasing after you, then make your way over to the treasure chest to grab the next piece of treasure. Naturally, we expect trial and error to play a big part in all of the puzzles in the game.
The other level we got to check out was an icy cathedral level that took place in the Frozen Temple world. Here the goal was to unlock a gate on the far side of the level in order to gain access to the treasure chest. In the middle of the cathedral stood a fountain with two lion-head-shaped outlets, one of which would spout ice, the other water, into a small pool below. The trick, which we figured out with just a little help from the Capcom producer, was to build a frozen ice key using the provided shapes, pouring water into the mold, and then freezing it into place. Once at the treasure chest, we had to ward off an evil spirit guarding the chest by grabbing hold of Wiki's tail and ringing him like a bell (by shaking the Wii Remote back and forth quickly). Wiki will apparently have other abilities to help you solve puzzles, in addition to periodically providing you with clues on how to get through the game's various levels.
Zack and Wiki's colorful cartoon look will surely appeal to kids, while its challenging puzzles should find fans with the older set too. And, after all, who can resist a game that features a monkey with a helicopter tail? Quest for Barbaros' Treasure currently has an unspecified release date, but we'll be keeping you up to date on its progress in the coming months.
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