Review by NDS_Master
"Want to be Destructive Without Getting in Trouble?"
How badly would you be grounded if you took all appliances in your parent's kitchen, lifted them above your head, and hurled them at the table with colossal force? If you're like many people, your parents would be so stunned they probably would have no idea what to do. But just imagine if you could wreak such immense destruction on your home and dismiss it as necessary cost involved with saving the world. Such is the basis for Konami's uniquely interactive game known as Elebits, which combines good physics with the Wii remote for a bizarre but delightful gaming experience.
At the start of the game you are Kai, a forlorn child who is sad because his parents give more attention to mysterious Elebit creatures than they give to him. These creatures provide energy to the world, so when the lights randomly go out while his parents are gone, Kai knows something must be up. Armed with confusion, depression, and an anti-gravity gun, he sets off to discover what happened to the Elebits.
The game begins in Kai's room, where you must use the gravity gun to pick up objects and move them to discover hiding Elebits. From there, you can zap them with the gun, gaining more power for the area Kai's in. Although trashing a room in a matter of seconds is a very appealing aspect of this game, you won't be able to cause such havoc at the beginning.
At first, your gravity gun is so weak it can only perform small actions, like picking up Kai's Wii console or opening drawers. As you gain more and more power from the Elebits, certain appliances will be energized, and by activating them you will release special Elebits that will help increase the strength of your gun.
Once you collect enough of the special Elebits by activating various devices, your gun's level will increase and you will be able to start moving slightly larger objects. And by moving objects you couldn't move before, you'll be able to discover more Elebits and power more appliances. In turn, you receive access to even more special Elebits, and you can increase your gun's level more so you can lift even heavier objects. The process keeps repeating until your gun is at max strength.
This might seem like the perfect formula for a free roaming game, so you may be surprised to hear that Elebits uses a level format. In each level you begin with a weak gun (though half-way through the game a call to your father reveals a way to start each stage with a stronger weapon), and you must roam around a confined area, usually a few rooms, to locate Elebits and increase your weapon strength.
Since it is basically impossible to die (except in a couple of the later missions, where renegade Elebits and toy artillery will try to slaughter you), the only challenge in most levels is the time limit. Before the timer reaches zero, you have to collect enough power from zapping Elebits or else you lose and have to restart. While at first you might think that this would detract from the gameplay, it usually doesn't since the time limits are lengthy -- most are over ten minutes and some are even over thirty.
With such long time limits on levels, it definitely hurts if you don't acquire enough power in time and fail. But, because of the level design, it's super easy to beat the majority levels within the allotted time. And if you have minutes to spare, you can keep going even when you satisfy the requirements, which gives you a chance to play around with the gravity gun and improve your end-of-level grade by collecting more Elebits.
As your progress through the game, you will occasionally be given limitations on what you can do in a stage. Sometimes you won't be able to exceed a certain noise level more than a specified number of times, and other times you will have to keep from destroying a specified number of breakable objects. In these levels, the game is more difficult since you have to be more strategic with your gravity gun usage, but at the same time, it also dampens your fun. Thankfully, most levels don't have these stipulations, so usually you will be able to have all the destructive fun you want.
What's cool about the game's thirty levels is that there is a lot of variety. One moment you might be digging through toys in your room, the next you might be tossing dishes out of the kitchen cupboard, and still the next you might be flinging cars across the street in your neighborhood. Some of the locations are reused in multiple levels, though for the most part this game offers a stupendous array of environments for you to trash. Tearing apart your dad's garage might be entertaining; however, turning a theme park into a dump is even more gratifying.
In case you haven't guessed by now, the Wii remote is what makes all this magic possible. While the nunchuk is used to walk around and do basic actions like jumping or crouching, the Wii remote controls most of the action in this first person game. To look around, you move the Wii remote, and when you find something you want to move, you aim at it with the Wii remote and press A to activate the gravity gun.
That alone makes the game good, but it gets better. Once you have an object with the gravity gun, you can move it by moving the Wii remote. You can bring items towards or away from you by moving the Wii remote forward or backward, and you can lift objects and move them around simply by doing a similar action with your controller. It's even possible to throw items long distances by swinging the remote and by releasing the A button, thus turning off the gravity gun and releasing your grasp of the object.
The amazing control that comes with the Wii remote makes this a delightful game to play: you have absolute power over every object you grab with your gun. While often times you will be swinging around pieces of furniture as fast as you possibly can for maximum enjoyment, other times you will be required to use more precision in tasks.
For example, to activate one appliance and unleash the special Elebits it contains, you have to pick up a CD and carefully move it and turn it until you can stick it in a CD drive. Another time, you have to pull open the oven and stick food from the refrigerator into it. The ultimate control you have with the Wii remote, as well as the awesome physics, makes Elebits fun to play even if you aren't particularly interested in the game's objectives.
Complementing the innovative game style are stylish graphics. However, since everything about this game -- from the story to the difficulty level -- is geared towards youngsters, it's only appropriate that the graphics are as well. Most of the items are decently clean and polished, but everything also has a simple, childish appearance.
When you hurl objects against walls, they won't incur damage. Instead, they'll remain perfectly intact, keeping their same look. It prevents this game from feeling too realistic, and it conveys the kiddy theme very well. Although Elebits is severely lacking in superb graphics, the freshness of its graphics style allows it to retain some quality in the graphics department despite a few obvious shortcomings.
Sound follows a similar path as that of the graphics in that it is good, but not spectacular. It fits in with the game's style, and it does an excellent job of enhancing the mood Konami wanted to portray with this game. Even simple things, like the squeal of Elebits as they are imprisoned by the gravity gun, make the experience very enjoyable. About the only thing that completely fails in this department is voice acting during the rare cutscenes; it's incredibly cheesy and fake. Fortunately, that's only a minor aspect of the sound in this game; overall it is solidly done. It just won't amaze you.
Although you should be able to experience all of the game's thirty levels in under 10 hours, Elebits offers a few extra challenges to keep the gameplay going. Depending on how well you complete levels, you'll be able to unlock new game modes, such as Edit or Challenge. These offer additional length to the game. But, while some people will find them to be amazing additions that boost the replay value, many will view them as tedious add-ons that aren't worthwhile to unlock.
The other way Elebits sustains itself is through multiplayer, where a group of four people can have a destruction fest. In multiplayer, the goal is to collect the most Elebits by trashing rooms and zapping the creatures when they are uncovered. It's similar to the main game, but with up to four people frantically searching, it is much more intense, and entire rooms can be dismantled in a matter of seconds.
Unfortunately the multiplayer is a bit cheap. Only the first player uses the nunchuk, earning the ability to control movement. Player one gets to decide where to look and where to go; the other gamers simply have to use their personal guns to zap whatever they can onscreen, even though they don't get to control what that screen is looking at. It does provide an unfair advantage for the first player, but as long as it's not abused (for example, going to a place where no Elebits remain to wait out the timer when you're winning) the multiplayer is still fun.
It might not be the most popular game on the market, but that doesn't mean Elebits isn't an awesome title. With its unique use of the Wii remote and excellent physics, it honestly is one of the most entertaining titles on the Wii gaming console. Sure, it's lacking in length and replay value; that's no reason not to experience a game that is both fun and extremely innovative. Although Elebits is best as a rental, it is a definite must play.
Rent or Buy: Rent
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 05/22/07
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