This is the best game you’re not playing right now.
There is a reason that Matt Cassamassina, the Editor in Chief of IGN’s Nintendo channel, started a campaign to get people to buy Zack & Wiki that caused other Web sites to follow suit and promote the game. This game is the epitome of “sleeper hit,” and with a little word of mouth, this game is sure to go platinum…or whatever the equivalent of platinum is for videogames. I’m sure they have something, right?
Put simply, this is a point-and-click PC puzzle game adapted for the Wii. In Shivers or Myst, you would point and click on an object and interact with it. Instead of in first-person mode, you’re in third person with Zack & Wiki, but essentially the principle is the same. So Zack, a fledgling pirate, and Wiki, a flying golden monkey, must run around the continent trying to solve puzzles to find treasures that belong to the legendary Barbaros. Turns out these treasures are actually pieces of his body that you are keeping in a coffin and resurrecting.
You are resurrecting a dead pirate by collecting his body parts? Do you see how awesome this is?
Instead of just pointing and clicking, objects also require manipulation. If you want to man a machinegun turret, you have to move the Wii-mote like a joystick, or, if you want to pour a glass of liquid, or cut down a tree, or drop a frog bomb onto a waterslide, you have to mimic the action with the Wii-mote. All of these actions are done in succession leading you to unlocking a treasure chest, and points are awarded based on your ability to do figure them out and do them correctly.
The graphics in this game really help set it apart from others. All the style is definitely Japanese in origin, reinforced by the Japanese character voices, but it’s smooth and fluid and creates an excellent visual package—you could be literally looking at a cartoon, but without all the cheap Flash work seen in most commercials (I’m looking at you, Erin Esurance).
The puzzles present a very well-balanced challenge. I find that most puzzles games are either retardely easy or ridiculously complicated, with most falling into the first category. Here, the puzzles are engaging; everything you need to solve a puzzle is right in front of you—you just have to figure out how to use it. And when you do get stuck, hints are available for a small price, as well as Phoenix Down (Can I use that? Is that a trademark?) like items that will bring you back to life just before that giant snow sweeping robot hit a home run with your face. This is a wonderful saving grace, since you have the opportunity to salvage an otherwise good run where you botched the last puzzle instead of restarting all over again.
The cast of side characters is fairly forgettable, with some of them even bordering on annoying, but completing the game allows you to go back through all the previous stages to hunt for hidden treasures that were not there before. Barbaros also challenges you to complete all your collection books, which is actually more of a drawback than a treat, probably the only negative thing I have to say about this game. In completing those books, you have to send this little rabbit on expeditions that cost you money, and he only comes back after you complete a mission. There aren’t enough missions in the game to send him out enough, and he charges out the ass the farther he has to travel. That little bastard is the real pirate in this game.
Overall, I don’t really have a bad thing to say about this game. There could be a little more voice work, but the Japanese is cute in small doses (ZAKU!) and runs the risk of becoming annoying if over used. The cast of characters is well designed and looks fantastic, as with all the other graphics in the game. The gameplay is executed exceptionally well and makes using the Wii-mote to solve puzzles fun and innovative.
Buy the game and then tell a friend; this game will not disappoint you. It’s not Super Mario Galaxy, but this is definitely a title you should own for keepsies. In the years down the road, when this title is next to impossible to find, you’ll be glad you had your own copy. I’ll keep Zack & Wiki on my shelf next to my golden colored Legend of Zelda NES cartridge and my SNES Chrono Trigger cartridge.