Genre : Action
Release Date: December 13, 2006
What is Elebits? On that note, what are Elebits?
Both are entirely valid questions, especially considering the made-up nature of the word itself. Yet, the answer to each question is quite different, despite that commonality of term usage. Anyway, to answer the questions:
Elebits is one of the first post-launch releases for the Nintendo Wii, and it comes our way from Konami. It plays like a hybrid of a first-person shooter and a light-gun shooter, but Elebits is a shooter in the way that Luigi's Mansion was a survival-horror game. Despite some common play mechanics, the presentation is too cutesy and colorful to be compared to any other shooters on the market. I find it a bit more accurate to call Elebits a glorified game of hide-and-seek, in which you seek the hidden Elebits.
Which brings us to the second query: What are they? Elebits are tiny, (mostly) friendly creatures that emit the electricity that keeps the modern world moving. In the world of Elebits, these incandescent, blob-like entities seemingly predate Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, and whoever else you might attribute to the discovery and containment of electricity. They are the real deal, and when an unexpected power outage hits, it is up to you to capture the missing Elebits and set things right.
In Elebits, you play as Kai, the 10-year-old son of Elebits researchers. Kai has some issues and ultimately reminds me of many American teenagers – he dislikes his parents for (supposedly) putting the Elebits ahead of him, watches television to block out his real problems, and is spiteful of other beings. He's kind of a jerk, but he's also 10 years old so I won't hold it against him. Equipped with his father's Capture Gun, Kai aims to gain back enough electricity to watch his favorite television show, but he ultimately stumbles upon something much larger (and, of course, more sinister).
Elebits revolves around the use of the Capture Gun, which you control with the help of the motion-sensing Wiimote. By twisting, turning, and zapping with the Wiimote, you can open doors, throw tables and chairs, and zap up dozens of Elebits. Elebits offers up one of the best examples yet of how the Wiimote can be used to create unique gameplay experiences. It's as easy as grabbing an object with either the A or B button, and then manipulating it in the environment by moving around the Wiimote.
The Nunchuk attachment also serves a vital role in Elebits, as you must use the analog stick to move Kai through the environment. The shoulder buttons on the Nunchuk allow you crouch or stand on your tiptoes, both of which are necessary moves when trying to locate hard-to-find Elebits. For the most part, the control scheme works pretty well, and whipping around huge objects is a blast. Occasionally, the system would lose track of the Wiimote pointer during a frantic search or boss fight, which is extremely frustrating when you are trying to avoid attacks or locate the last few watts needed to finish a mission. Opening doors also proved to be a regular annoyance, as they would often snap shut before I could even enter.
The main goal in each regular mission is to obtain a certain amount of watts by sucking up the Elebits, though you may also need to avoid breaking fragile objects or causing too much noise. Everything starts small in Elebits; the first stage takes place in your bedroom, with subsequent stages stretching out only as far as your living room and backyard. As such, your Capture Gun can typically only grab hold of lighter objects, such as toys, plants, and dishes. Later missions take you out of the comfort of your home and into your hometown and a local amusement park.
As you zap up more and more Elebits with your Capture Gun, the on-screen Watts meter increases, and reaching certain amounts allows you the ability to activate nearby electronics. Turning on a television or an arcade machine will cause the object to spit out specially charged Elebits, and sucking up the whole bunch of them will typically upgrade the level of your Capture Gun. As you upgrade the gun, you can pick up and fling much larger objects, including park benches and cars. Elebits is most enjoyable when chaos is king, and that happens much more in the later stages, when you are not confined to a single room or hallway.
Elebits features four boss fights, which vary a bit in style and presentation. The first boss splits itself up into several smaller versions (which you must zap), while later bosses must be picked up with your Capture Gun and slammed against the ground. The two-part boss fight that caps off the game is surprisingly inventive, though it, like the rest of the game, suffers from a lack of challenge. Most missions can be completed well before the time limit, which is typically generous as it is. Should you botch a mission the first time around, chances are that you will nail it without issue on the second attempt.
The Story mode in Elebits is comprised of 29 missions, including the four boss fights, and it lasts for roughly eight hours. The lack of variety in the environments and missions makes the game feel rather repetitive, even after a few missions. Things pick up a bit once you make it to the amusement park, but in the end, you are still doing essentially the same thing over and over again: moving inanimate objects with the Capture Gun and zapping up any Elebits that you find. While some stages offer additional objectives, Elebits does not do nearly enough to keep things interesting from start to finish.
As you might expect, Elebits does have an intriguing visual style and uses storybook-style still images (with the occasional bit of CG) to present the storyline between missions. However, the in-game visuals are rather unimpressive and lack detail or variety. This would not be a huge issue if the game ran smoothly, but sure enough, when several items (or Elebits) are in motion, the graphics engine chugs like you wouldn't believe. Drab and choppy isn't a combination that will fly on next-gen systems, even if the Wii is considered to be less powerful than its competitors.
Elebits does offer a lot of additional content, including an enjoyable multiplayer skirmish and a robust Edit mode. Four players can sync up their Wiimotes and Nunchuks and zap for supremacy in any of the levels unlocked in Story mode. Unlocked levels can also be modified in Edit mode, which allows you to place Elebits, items, and power-ups wherever you please. Additionally, you can use the WiiConnect24 service to trade levels and screen captures with friends who also have the game.
Elebits definitely has its moments, but they are few and far between, often buried between lengthy spurts of tedium. This may be difficult to believe, but picking up books and trash cans in the pursuit of mythical creatures really may not be the stuff of brilliant games. Though Elebits certainly does a great job of displaying the possibilities held within the Wiimote, the final product is too dull and shallow to truly impress. Many of us are dying to get more use out of our Wii systems, but Elebits is not the must-play, post-launch title we so desperately wanted it to be.
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