Review by MS3FGX

Reviewed: 01/25/07

A little strange, but a lot of fun.

When I first saw Elebits, I was immediately interested. The basic concept is that you use the Wii remote
to control a beam of energy which is able to grab onto objects. With this, you can move and throw nearly anything in the game. Essentially, it is a game built around the concept of a “gravity gun” like the one seen in “Half Life 2”.

But what do you do with said device? The goal in Elebits is to capture...Elebits, which are small creatures that excrete electricity. They need to be captured so that you can restore the world's electrical power. I should probably mention here that the story is fairly ridiculous, but that is clearly not the point of the game. The entire game is designed around the interaction you can have with the objects populating the world of Elebits.

Speaking of the story, it is told through absolutely beautiful hand-drawn pictures that go by in a sort of slideshow fashion. As the pictures move by, you listen to the story being told by what has to be some of the worst voice acting ever recorded in recent memory. It is so painfully bad that I can hardly believe it made it onto market with the voice work as it is. It honestly sounds like placeholder audio that they just never got around to replacing with professional voice actors.

But as I said, the story is fairly pointless anyway. All of the enjoyment in Elebits comes from throwing things around, which is (not surprisingly) fairly addictive. You will play the game in a series of stages that are set in different areas (a bedroom, a park, etc) with different requirements. You will always have a time limit and amount of Elebits you are required to collect, but you will occasionally also be challenged with different objectives, such as not making too much noise or not destroying too many objects.

As the object interaction is the main draw of the game, it is fitting that I cover that in a bit more detail than I usually would give control issues. To grab onto an object you simply point at it and hold the B button. This will lock the beam onto the object, and moving the Wii remote will drag the object in that direction. In addition, you can push the remote towards the Sensor Bar to push objects away, and conversely pull the remote away from the Sensor Bar to move them closer. Twisting the remote to the left and right will cause the object to spin in that direction, which can be used for example to open door knobs. The rest of the controls are pretty obvious, the analog stick moves you, and moving the remote without holding onto an object lets you look around.

This interaction is wonderful, and certainly is indicative of the amazing things the Wii can do in terms of immersion, but it would not be a lot of fun unless it was backed up with a decent physics engine. Thankfully Elebits does feature such a physics engine, but it certainly isn't perfect. While you can throw objects around, bash them into each other, and stack them up all you please, they never seem to really have “weight” to them. Throwing a book is the same as throwing a house or a car. This is a little disappointing both in terms of gameplay and the visual effect of the objects flying around and hitting things.

Of course, the game is not terribly impressive in any regards graphically. While the game certainly looks nice enough to get the point across, it really doesn't look like anything the Gamecube couldn't do. Most of the objects are fairly well detailed, but not nearly enough to really catch your attention. Worse still, the game suffers from some pretty serious slowdown anytime a lot of objects are moving around. There is also a large amount of fogging done on the outdoor levels, something I thought we had seen the last of on the N64. Given how slow the game can get as is, perhaps it is good that the artists decided not to really push the envelope when they were doing the models for the individual objects. While it isn't much considering the graphical problems the game has, it does at least support both 16:9 and 480p.

The audio is not too bad however. Most of the music is pretty catchy, and the game makes good use of surround sound so that you can actually hear objects hitting walls behind you and such. You can also locate the Elebits by sound to a limited degree, but there is usually going to be too much background noise to really hear them until you are right on top of them.

In addition to the single player story mode, you also have access to a multiplayer mode and a level editor which allows you to create custom levels which you can send to others over WiiConnect24. In fact, Elebits is the first Wii game to actually support WiiConnect24.

The multiplayer mode is a mixed bag. While it is nice to have, the developers came up with a rather odd control scheme. Rather than having the traditional splitscreen, they opted instead for the first player to have control over the camera and movement while the other players only have control over their aiming reticles. This makes the multiplayer a quasi-cooperative affair, even though the goal is to compete with each other for score. Unfortunately, it is way to easy for the person controlling the action to keep the others from getting any points. In my time playing the multiplayer, the person controlling the game always came out in first place.

I have no real complaints about the level editor, beyond perhaps it's complexity. It will take you a very long time to put together a serious level, but if you are into that sort of thing you will have a wonderful time doing it. The ability to send and receive these levels over WiiConnect24 is a wonderful addition, and makes me really interested in seeing what future games are going to be able to do with the technology. Hopefully we will see more games taking advantage of it soon.

While Elebits is plenty of fun, it is definitely not without it's faults. Ignoring even the atrocious voice acting, the game is pretty underwhelming graphically for such a powerful machine, and the multiplayer is more infuriating (for everyone but the first player, anyway) than fun. Still, I have to give it credit for putting WiiConnect24 to use and it's excellent use of the Wii's controls. It also packs in enough content to keep you entertained for awhile. Overall, the game could have been much better, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't give it a look.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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