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Joystiq hands-on: Elebits (Wii)

Julian Thomas

The world seems to have its eye on Elebits right now, hoping for another industry darling of the likes of Katamari Damacy. Sharing similar themes, Elebits is a fantasy story set in a mundane, domestic environment, collecting tiny electric creatures instead of junk-in-a-ball. It's the collecting that sets the games apart, with ball rolling replaced by shooting, only we're collecting the elebits instead of killing them.

Using the Wii-mote as a capture gun (and Nunchuk for movement), the game is part hide and seek -- you see, those elebits like to hide in nooks and crannies -- and part light gun style shooter. The novelty comes in the fact that the capture gun has a furniture moving gravity beam, allowing you to truly rummage for the little tykes.

A sense of progress comes from the gravity beam starting out quite weak, getting stronger as you collect more elebits. A typical level starts out with you rummaging throughout the shelves and cupboards for elebits, ending with your powered up gun lifting up entire pieces of furniture effortlessly, as you trash the place looking the elusive creatures.

Not a million miles away from the N64's Pokemon Snap, the game provides the fun of shooting things, but with the threat of attack entirely absent. The only feeling of urgency comes from the increasingly stringent time limits the game enforces. This may sound boring to some, but exploring the game environments with an increasingly more powerful gun certainly entertains. This formula is changed somewhat for boss battles where the emphasis is squarely set on shooting over exploration. Very much like FPS bosses, but with no risk of dying, as you don't even have an energy bar! Still, the change of pace is so brisk that you can't help but feel excited anyway.

The game is not without its flaws though, and you do get the feeling that maybe it was rushed a little to reach the Wii's launch window. The game engine is juddery at times, despite the games relatively simple graphics. The control system also annoys when you've created a mess, and you get yourself stuck. On one hand, you could argue that a more skilled player might not have made the mess in the first place, but you often find yourself shouting at the screen "just step over the chair! It's not that big!". This is made all the more annoying when the blocking items are below your point of view, and you don't even know why you're stuck.

So far, these problems are not detracting enough to ruin the fun. If Elebits keeps throwing up new and interesting challenges, it could be a winner. We'll keep you informed.

Japanese offical site: here

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