Throughout the '90s many of our favorite PC gaming experiences were point-and-click adventures: Discworld, Monkey Island, King's Quest VI, Day of the Tentacle and Sam and Max, to name a few. Sadly, with the development of 3D graphics the old 2D point-and-click gameplay mechanic was left behind. Grim Fandango is the only game, in our opinion, to successfully carry over the formula into 3D.
Enter Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure, the out-of-left-field hit which promises to resurrect the point-and-click gameplay of yesteryear. Tucked away in the back corner of Nintendo's press-only booth stood a single Zack & Wiki display kiosk to which no one was paying any attention (having to walk past various Pokémon, Mario and Metroid stands to get there might have something to do with it). This worked in our favor, however, as we had time to play a few levels before anyone else turned up.
Controlled solely with the Wiimote, Zack & Wiki plays very similarly to old 2D point-and-clicks with one exception: everything is rendered in beautiful, chunky toy-like 3D. Colorful and cartoony, the game looks like a child's Playmobil set come to life. Zack & Wiki isn't necessarily for kids, however. The puzzles can vary in difficulty and had us scratching our heads on several occasions.
The inclusion of motion controls adds to the game's charm, allowing you to better manipulate the game world and the objects you pick up. Shaking the Wiimote allows you to grab your flying monkey sidekick Wiki by the tail and ring him like a bell. This is used for exorcising the demons from the chests at the end of each level, among other things. Often you won't be told exactly what motion to make with the Wiimote in order to solve a puzzle, leaving you to work it out from context.
Levels are split up into individual puzzles which, when completed, will give you a score depending on how well you solved it based on time and failed attempts. The final score for each level will keep you replaying the game in an attempt to max out each level. A central level select screen allows you to move on to a new set of puzzles, if you get stuck, and come back later. This prevented the game from getting frustrating or boring during the hour and a half or so we spent playing.
The puzzles and piratey atmosphere (reminiscent of Monkey Island) make Zack & Wiki incredibly satisfying. We didn't get to experience much of the storyline, but, unless the writing turns out to be a total train wreck, this title is a day-one purchase for us. Not just because Zack & Wiki is a great game, but also because we want to let the industry know that there's still plenty of demand for point-and-click adventures.