Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure

Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure Cover
Platforms Nintendo Wii
Genre Fantastically frustrating point and click
Score 5  Clock score of 5
Buy from Amazon

I don't think I've been this disappointed in a video game since Assassin's Creed. Zack and Wiki started off great, but then some realizations start to sink in, and then everything falls off the track. To say I didn't have fun with Zack and Wiki would be a lie, but there are some major problemms with this game.

Before we get into the review proper, Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure was released in 2007 by Capcom. I admitted in my first hour review of the game that this was the first non-Nintendo published title I was actually interested in playing. Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 are incredible, but I was having a lot of trouble finding something that interested me on the Wii beyond those. Zack and Wiki had been nagging at me for a while and received great reviews, seemed like it was the right way to go.

I understand that my opinion probably differs quite a bit from the normal reviewer, it makes me question whether they actually played the entire game or if expectations of Wii gameplay has really changed this much over three years? But if I wasn't honest in my review, what's the point in writing?

What I loved: Zack and Wiki features a charming story with a cute cast of characters that I actually enjoyed. It's obvious what's going to happen from, well, the first hour, just as I predicted, but it's a fun ride. There's some text dialogue which is kept to a proper minimum, and a little bit of voice work for exclamations (which is kind of hilariously still in Japanese, so you get stuff like "ZAKKU" and "JOH-NEE" for Johnny). The cutscene animation is all in-game graphics and looks really good due to a great art style.

The level design is also pretty inspired. There's an excellent variety of stages that span the usual tropes of volcano, ice, and spooky. While there's major problems with the gameplay, the levels themselves are top notch. Each stage is a mini point and click adventure world with problems and puzzles to solve. Having individual stages instead of a massive singular world keeps the complexity at a welcome level. You don't have to carry a large inventory and try every permutation of combining X and Y (heck, you can only carry one item at a time as it is).

I also enjoyed the game's soundtrack, while I don't have a great ear for music, there are some upbeat and fun orchestral tracks that match the game's emotions well.

For completionist gamers with lots of patience (redundant?), Zack and Wiki might be a great game for you. Every action you take rewards you with a certain amount of HirameQ points. If you mess up a gesture the first time you'll receive less HirameQ when you actually do complete it successfully. Building up lots of HirameQ throughout the level will earn you a better title once you complete it, and there's a running total kept also. By the way, I have no idea what HirameQ means.

Zack and Wiki Quest for Barbaros Treasure Ship

What I hated: As evidenced by my first hour experience, I had a good time with Zack and Wiki at one point. Well, I'll admit, I had fun for more than an hour, but then you start realizing things. Things like how when you're killed, you have to restart the level. Couple of catches here*: yes, you can die in Zack and Wiki. Welcome back to the age of King's Quest where interacting with the wrong thing will get you instantly killed. Dying sucks in any game, but the punishment in this game seems a bit over the top. Dying can set you back anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes depending on the length of the level, forcing you to go through all the same repetitive motions again. *Other catch is that you can buy extra lives that let you go back right before you died, but of course, you can't purchase them when you actually need them.

The game's biggest problem is that every little action you want to do involves gimmicking the Wiimote one way or another. It's rather obvious this is an early Wii title as Capcom tries out every possible maneuver the controller can pull off. Want to turn a doorknob? Turn the Wiimote awkwardly in the air. Want to drop a pot? Hold the remote with both hands and make a tossing motion. I'm having a hard time blaming them for all this though as the Wii was just a year old and it probably seemed fun at the time. But across a 14 hour game, things become excessive.

Excessiveness leads to exhaustion, and that point for me was when I had to swordfight with skeletons. I will admit, I was ready to bestow upon this game a score of 6 or 7, but then I encountered these jerks. First of all, you're dead if you lose in battle, and it only takes three hits (don't forget, dead means restarting the level from scratch). Secondly, I have no idea what kind of action the developers actually intended for the sword swinging action. So here I am, wildly flailing my arm around just trying to survive. One of the most frustrating moments of gaming ever.

Without beating a dead horse, Zack and Wiki is also very focused on doing the right set of actions in the correct order. One level had me escaping from an airship, and I had to fly a plane off of it. Unfortunately, I didn't blow up the bay door so when I was about to leave, the bad guys just closed it and screwed me over. My last opportunity to blow it up was about 10 minutes earlier, so I lost because I had no idea this specific course of action was going to be necessary. There are more examples like this throughout the game, but this one in particular really bugged me.

Zack and Wiki Quest for Barbaros Treasure wii Remote


Gameplay: 4

Zack and Wiki relies way too much on gimmicky motion controls that didn't resonate with me at all. Plus, its unforgiving death/save system was obnoxious. I actually wonder who this game is targeted to: the art style seems to indicate kids, but the difficulty is more intended for the seasoned gamer. Another annoying factor is that while this is a point and click adventure game, there are plenty of times where you need to be very quick with your actions or else you will die.

Fun Factor: 3

My major beefs with Zack and Wiki really hurt it here. At the end of the game I just wasn't having that much fun. The puzzles seemed obvious but I just couldn't pull off their execution without becoming extremely frustrated. This wasn't like Psychonauts either where the difficulty spikes up tremendously near the end, at least that game's difficulty is earned with tough gameplay. Zack and Wiki is just unresponsive garbage in its penultimate stage.

Graphics and Sound: 9

Easily the best part of the game, Zack and Wiki has a great cartoony style along with an eclectic set of voice work. My kid loved watching and listening to the interaction between the main character Zack and his little floating friend Wiki.

Story: 7

You usually expect a decent story to drive a point and click adventure game, and while Zack and Wiki's isn't stellar, it is decent. It's definitely kiddish though in its outrageous characters and over the top antics. But it's a charming tale of unleashing the devil on the universe, so you'll probably enjoy that.

Overall: 5

Much like my experience with Assassin's Creed, Zack and Wiki is a game of big highs and big lows. If Capcom had focused less on gimmicky Wiimote waggling and more on keeping the game fun, I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more. Three years after this was released it's almost mind boggling to know that an improved sequel hasn't been churned out; there don't seem to be too many one-and-dones this generation. And that's kind of a shame, as I think that this game can be easily improved into a much better game than it is.

Zack and Wiki Quest for Barbaros Treasure Stage Cleared