It's time for some point and click plundering!
We're taking a trip way back in time for the No. 2 game of NWR's Top 10 Third-Party Wii Games. Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure came out in the first 12 months of the Wii's life in most regions. Its style, genre, and feature set represented much of what Nintendo fans desired out of the young console. The motion controls breathe new life into an old and often forgotten genre. The art style oozes charm and isn’t afraid to break the mold of earth tones and realism so many "next-generation" games fell into. It's definitely a must-play game.
Zack & Wiki was a huge part of the early Wii hype, specifically among the traditional gaming crowd. The editors at IGN went so far as to organize a campaign designed to get as many people to buy a copy of the game as they could. While the grassroots effort felt contrived and potentially unethical to many people at the time, looking back shows it came from a genuine desire to encourage fresh thinking and third-party support on the young platform. Sadly, the campaign didn't really work. Zack & Wiki was not commercially successful and struggled to reach 100,000 in sales in the first several months of its release.
Obviously, sales weren't taken into account when formulating this list, as Zack & Wiki flew all the way up to No. 2. I put it extremely high on my personal list, not necessarily because it was an astounding game. What makes Zack & Wiki stand out are the memories the experience evokes. I was graced with the review copy, so I played through the game franticly in those early days of the Wii. I gave it an 8 and summed it up with the following paragraph:
"Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure is one of the best single-player experiences on Wii to this point. The basic gameplay is so strong that it easily overcomes a bland story and sometimes frustrating gestures. This game is just begging for a sequel, full of the same point-and-click animal changing fun. The characters are great, and they deserve to have more stories told about them."
Sadly, it's pretty obvious that a sequel isn't and won't ever be in development, but the quote does a good job of taking me back in time. While some of the gestures were extremely frustrating, others showed the potential of the console. The characters were easy to love but the story needed some help. What's not to like about a pirate crew made up mostly of rabbits, and a villain that draws a scar on her face with pink lipstick? If only the story wasn't a trite collect-all-the-pieces affair.
The mechanics of the game are simple and engaging—exactly what the Wii facilitates. Each stage features a unique environment. Pointing and clicking with the Wii Remote controls Zack, the main character. Click on an open area and he walks there; click on an object and he interacts with it by prompting the player for a specific motion gesture. This smooth transition between the two Wii Remote features makes Zack & Wiki one of the best uses of the controller.
Zack & Wiki is not an easy game to come by anymore. If you missed it the first time around and are able to acquire a copy, you can't go wrong. It's a charming game that encapsulates the optimism and excitement of the Wii Launch.