Release Date: September 18, 2007
Have you ever played a game that, from the ground up, seems as if it's meant to annoy every last target audience, a game with design elements that are far too kiddy for a core gamer, but which ends up being far too difficult for an average child to find really fun? That's a pretty accurate summary for Konami's new Wii offering, Dewy's Adventure. It manages to combine so many annoying elements that it ends up being of little playable value to just about anyone. (When the interesting-but-average Elebits is listed as "award-winning," you should first ask, "Which awards?" and be very cautious.)
Dewy's Adventure casts the player in the role of Dewy, an animated drop of water and character in a storybook narrated by several children. Long ago, Dewy was pretty much single-handedly responsible for saving the world-defining Tree of Seven Colors from your everyday monochrome big bad. The antagonist is back, has more color in his cheeks, and he's successfully ruined just about everything, so Dewy has been revived and immediately makes one wonder how on Earth he was useful in saving the world last time.
See, Dewy can only jump and change the temperature around him. He can attack using his jumps and, when heated up, shoot lightning bolts, but he can't jump when heated, so it ends up evening out. The only way Dewy can move around is by following gravity, which forces the player to tilt the stages using the Wiimote. You can also shake the Wiimote to spark earthquakes and wave it up and down to make a gust of wind. It's really simple, and that's about all there is to it.
Somehow, Dewy's Adventure manages to make reasonably smooth, well thought-out controls extremely frustrating by treating the Wiimote like the PlayStation 3 SixAxis controller. This worked for Sonic and the Secret Rings because you didn't need to tilt the remote forward or backward precisely, but the tiny, stick-like Wiimote simply doesn't rotate forward or backward as easily. Even on the levels that require you to tilt the controller from side to side, you'll need to move toward or away from the screen just enough to cause repetitive-motion strains, making the game physically painful to play as time goes on.
Anyone who's played Super Monkey Ball will feel like he's in all-too-familiar territory, despite Dewy's Adventure not even being in the same league as SMB. Dewy's is basically a stack of gimmicks added to the Monkey Ball control scheme, and only the jumping ability adds to the gameplay. Admittedly, you hold the pad like an NES controller instead of like a joystick (as was done for the Wii release of the Monkey Ball series, Banana Blitz), but this ends up feeling derivative of the oldest versions, instead of anything new. As if admitting this, several of the additions to stage environments in Dewy's Adventure are actually referenced in the manual as "Gimmicks!"
An annoying control scheme is only the beginning of the litany of problems in Dewy's Adventure, as "imaginative" environments grow old far too quickly for their admittedly well-made (though usually not creative) designs, which are colorful enough to hold a child's attention but not loaded with pastel doom. The problem comes when the same stage layouts, with few to no new elements, get used in five stages in a row. Each stage is just long enough that the end result keeps you in the same theme for an hour or two, which is enough time for even the best designs to lose interest. The repeated elements across the game's eight worlds make things really annoying really quickly. Additionally, the same tips play between levels — with Pac-Man-esque interim animations and ads for Aquapod, a Nestlé brand that sells water in oddly shaped bottles — with little to no variety, adding another grating element into the mix.
Dewy's Adventure is further plagued by one of the most annoying soundscapes I've heard in a long time. The sound effects and voices are practically pulled from unimaginative children's adventure game trope sets, and the soundtrack sounds like it was modeled after the Teletubbies or Barney theme. Somehow, the title manages to be even more annoying to anyone over the age of five, in part because of recurring off-key humming by the characters, including the Dadaist voice of Dewy. While the soundtrack is trying to fit into the "imaginative" gameplay theme, it mostly comes across as shrill and frustrating, encouraging one to lower the game's volume.
Fortunately, the title manages to mildly redeem itself with the multiplayer functionality. Goody mode allows people to write their own stages by moving parts, which can be found in the main game, around the system, with a reasonably simple, if limited, implementation. It includes the nice touch that, even though there isn't online multiplayer, you can send stage data to anyone on your Wii friends list via WiiConnect24. Actual play consists of choosing a stage from a short list of defaults or an array of created stages, moving around and then racing to collect stars around the level. The end result is enjoyable, if unexceptional.
Overall, Dewy's Adventure is a very annoying and superficial piece of work. It tries to paint an imaginative, child-friendly image but promptly wrecks it with derivative gameplay, frustrating and painful controls that make exceptionally poor use of the Wiimote functionality, annoying implementation of in-game advertising and a general lack of ways to hold a player's interest. It's unfortunate that Dewy's Adventure is probably one of the most kid-friendly-looking, third-party games currently available for the Wii because the game's issues will even prevent kids from finding it very enjoyable.