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Elebits Review

Developer: Konami Publisher: Konami
Release Date: December 12, 2006 Also On: None

Truth be told, there is nothing in this world that I hate more than finding something I’ve lost. I walk around my condo swearing and mumbling and grumbling in an untamed Cliff Bakehorn fit until I find whatever it is that I’m looking for. Unfortunately, I can’t just turn my abode upside-down and find things the quick way. Konami’s first Wii title, Elebits, gives me that option. Strangely a video game that simulates my least favorite game of hide-and-seek is also a fun reason to play Nintendo Wii.

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In Elebits, you’re a cute little boy named Kai. Kai’s dilemma is that his mom’s and dad’s studying of the electrically-charged Elebits appears to be more important than paying attention to him. Kai wishes away the little buggers and surely enough they disappear, taking with them the electric power of the world. That’s right, the Elebits fuel the world with that all-important modern necessity, electricity. Kai’s really messed up this time. His parents leave to try to figure out what to do about the Elebits. Meanwhile, Kai picks up his dad’s trusty Capturing Gun to find the Elebits and restore energy to the world.

Using the Capturing Gun is a simple task but capturing the Elebits and managing their powers is the real challenge of the game. As Kai you’ll walk around different rooms and areas using the Capturing Gun to pick up, throw, open, twist, turn, and otherwise move almost anything in the environment. Elebits could be hiding anywhere: hidden in a sink faucet, cowering in the back of a drawer, even hiding behind Kai’s own Nintendo Wii. Finding these guys lets you take advantage of their watts power, and levels are completed by collecting Elebits and their watts.

The trick is that you use the watts to restore power to electrical appliances, toys, and other objects. By doing so you can then power up your Capturing Gun with supercharged Elebits, allowing you to pick up and manipulate even heavier objects. The flow of each level, then, goes like this: find Elebits, get some watts, restore objects, power up your gun to repeat the process. It’s simple but it’s never anything less than entertaining. Some of the game’s levels throw in extra challenges, like restricting Kai’s amount destruction by allowing him to break only a few objects or forcing him to keep the noise level down. These add some thought to your actions but mostly just force-feed you with care for your environment.

The Wii’s motion controls work excellently in Elebits. It’s got the Wii-standard first-person shooter style, asking you to use the nunchuck analog stick to move Kai and the Wii Remote to “point” the camera. It feels exactly like Red Steel, a game I’m particularly fond of, so I found that to be a nice thing. Kai moves pretty slowly and the action is much slower than in the shooter, so unlike Red Steel, you won’t need to spin around in circles wildly to find what you’re looking for. Using the Capturing Gun is as simple as pointing and pressing A on the Wii Remote. To manipulate objects you hold the A button while pointing at the object and then move the Wii Remote around as the object is bound to the gun’s beam. You can also pull and push by pulling and pushing the Wii Remote in either direction, allowing you to open doors and close drawers. By twisting the remote you can turn on sinks or other objects.

There really aren’t any holdups in terms of gameplay, though I’d like to mention that opening a door can take far too long if you don’t have the motion down. There were times where I thought that finding the big key for a locked boss’s door in Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess took less work than opening unlocked doors in Elebits. The game is extremely simple and offers little to no depth, so people looking for another gripping game like Twilight Princess might be a little disappointed. Elebits features several levels that can be re-played in a “Score Attack” mode, slightly extending the story mode. It’s even got a level editor that lets you place set pieces and Elebits in rooms you’ve played in the story mode, and those levels can be uploaded via WiiConnect24 and sent to friends. All in all, though, you probably won’t play Elebits for more than 15 hours.

I really hate to shoot something down about this unbelievably cute and charming game, but these visuals are terrible. I say this with no exaggeration, Elebits looks like it could have possibly been a Nintendo 64 game. The objects in the environment are blocky and detailed to the most minimal amount. Textures are blurry. Character models are very cute but extremely simple. Simply put, Konami should have really put more effort into making Elebits look like a serious title rather than a tech demo. If it weren’t for the beautiful art stills that tell the storyline and the otherwise cute art direction, I’d say this was a visual mess. The sound is less disappointing, with some of the most uninspired and uncooked voice acting in quite some time but sound effects that have the same charm as the Elebits themselves. When you capture one, for example, they make cat-like meows and other noises that will get a smile out of even the roughest-around-the-edges gamer. The music is appropriate and sometimes even good.

I threw that swear phrase out there–“tech demo”–and Elebits might catch that title from a lot of people. It has little depth. It has simplistic gameplay and minimalist visuals. It reminds me a lot of the Nintendo DS’s Yoshi Touch and Go, another “tech demo” that came out shortly after the DS launched and showed something fresh that the handheld could do. Still, darnit, Elebits is a good, fun game. In fact, it’s absolutely, brilliantly perfect for the younger ages, especially kids that just get a kick out of making a mess. It is accessible and enjoyable for adults as well, though. I don’t know how Konami did it, but they took my least favorite chore of finding things and made it into a fun virtual experience. If you’ve got a Wii, give this cute game a shot.

Graphics: 5
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 8.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 6.5
Final: 7.5
Written by Cliff Review Guide