Release Date: Fall 2007
Of the 10 playable titles at Capcom's Gamers Day event last month, Project Treasure Island Z (Working Title) for the Wii seemed to garner the most excitement and attention from the assembled world press. Its strategic placement next to the bar might have had a little something to do with that, though. The ability to scope out a new game on the way to some liquid salvation always comes across as a perk.
In all seriousness, I think people were glad to see and play a new Capcom game that wasn't a sequel or based on some existing franchise or license. Project Treasure Island Z is a quirky adventure/puzzle title starring a pirate-in-training who solves puzzles in environments as diverse as ancient jungle ruins and a haunted castle. By using the Wiimote, players can perform over 80 distinct actions, from turning a key to playing a flute. With colorful, lightly cel-shaded visuals that pop off the screen, Treasure Island seems destined to be an underground hit.
But Capcom would rather have it be a mainstream hit, which may be why the game tells a tale that seems to draw inspiration from the immensely popular "One Piece" anime/manga series. Pirate apprentice Zack has traveled the world in search of hidden treasure left behind by Barbaros, a legendary (deceased) pirate. When Zack stumbles upon Barbaros' talking skull, it promises to reveal the key to the hidden treasure, but only if Zack can lift the spell that has befallen the deceased legend. Along with Wiki, his golden flying monkey (seriously!), Zack must solve a variety of wacky puzzles to decipher the mystery and become the greatest pirate of all time.
Project Treasure Island Z's main hook is its creative use of the Wiimote. Without the benefit of the Nunchuk attachment (and its additional buttons), the onus falls entirely on the Wiimote, which is used for all sorts of physical activities. Over 80 total actions will be included in the final game, and in the Gamers Day demo, we were able to pick up, turn, and stack boxes with the Wiimote, as well as locate and turn a crank to progress in the level. Additional footage aired at the event shows the Wiimote being used to scoop up water and even play notes on a flute.
In another stage, Zack and Wiki find themselves on an elevated spot of land with no obvious route to the nearby ledge. After shaking a tree, a vicious centipede with spiked legs and teeth comes down from the branches. Naturally, Zack grabs onto its teeth, allowing the player to use the centipede as a saw to cut down the tree and cross over to the other ledge. With so many bizarre actions and potential solutions, some may find it tough to figure out what to do in any given situation. Luckily, the game has a generous hint system that allows for dynamic difficulty. If you need a hint, you can get it, but those who abstain from computer assistance will receive a better rating at the end of the stage.
Though Treasure Island is designed only for single-player action, Capcom hopes that it will intrigue gamers enough to solve puzzles together in teams. With seven themed worlds and over 500 interactive items, the game is expected to pack over 40 hours of gameplay. But even if it doesn't span the equivalent of an American workweek, Project Treasure Island Z looks to be one of the more innovative third-party prospects on the Wii horizon.