Wii

North America

Pandora's Tower

by Neal Ronaghan - April 15, 2013, 8:41 pm PDT
Total comments: 11

7

Defeat a giant monster, make a girl eat its flesh, rinse, and repeat.

The opening moments of Pandora's Tower, the last of the fabled Operation Rainfall games to come to America, set the tone for the entire game. During a ceremony, monsters curse the teenage Elena and turn her into a beast. Shortly after her resulting rampage, the player character, a young man named Aeron, finds her. With the help of a disturbing merchant named Mavda, who carries what might be her dead (?) husband on her back, you try to break the curse.

The manner in which you break the curse is the premise of the entire game. By journeying through 13 towers filled with combat and puzzles, you defeat bosses that give you crucial pieces of Master Flesh that the vegetarian Elena must eat so she can avoid transforming into a disgusting beast permanently and eventually reverse the curse. Pandora's Tower features a lengthy backstory that explains the fabled curse, but for the most part, it is centered on Aeron being a dutiful hero, Elena being a whiny girl with a terrible fate, and Mavda being super creepy but often helpful. This is not a world-spanning quest; this is a personal story about a boy and a girl.

The towers are fun dungeons with enemies and environmental obstacles. Primarily, you fight and maneuver through them by using a magical chain, which has multiple uses. You can use the chain to bind enemies, making it easier for you to slash them with your sword, or use it to throw them around the room or remove vital items from their dead corpses. In other areas, usually bosses and puzzles, the chain is used in more depth, whether you're playing tug-of-war with a boss or tweaking the chain to unlock a door. Unfortunately, the 13 towers repeat themselves part way through, with the threadbare excuse of some representing the male god and others representing the opposite yet similar female god.

The unique towers have interesting art direction, but the execution of that is poor. Some parts, primarily the three main character models, look great, but the enemies and the world around you are muddled and rough. Throw in a lackluster frame rate and Pandora's Tower is more often unimpressive than remarkable.

Early on, you can usually complete towers in one go, but as you progress, you need to be smart about how you go through towers, as there is a constant time limit. Wait too long, and Elena turns into a beast forever and the game ends. You have to return at different junctures to feed her beast flesh, making her temporarily revert back to normal.

Your relationship with Elena is a crucial part of the game. If you give her gifts and talk to her, your relationship becomes stronger, which can lead to beneficial items and elongated tower time limits. If you constantly let her go deep into her beastly transformation, then your relationship with her worsens, negating those bonuses.

While the towers can often be nerve wracking, the Shadow of the Colossus-esque bosses are tense, entertaining affairs and a just reward for getting through each tower with time to spare. While the comparison to Team Ico's classic isn't quite on the nose (the bosses are less daunting and impressive), they are still fun struggles to slaughter increasingly powerful beings to save your love.

While I played the game primarily with the Classic Controller Pro, it seems more geared for the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. You aim the chain by using a cursor on the screen, which is better suited to the pointer instead of the second analog stick on the Classic Controller. Likewise, yanking out the flesh from enemies is done with a gratuitous flick on the Wii Remote. The Classic Controller is by no means bad (the only real drawback is that the cursor aiming is a bit clunky) but the Wii Remote and Nunchuk is definitely the way to go.

In some respects, Pandora's Tower shares similarities with Shadow of the Colossus, and while it doesn't ascend to the high barometer of that game, it is worthy of the comparison. Pandora's Tower's greatest triumph is its off-kilter story and premise, but the gameplay backing it up, which is a fusion of Zelda, Castlevania, and the aforementioned Colossus, is still strong. If you can put up with some technical limitations and have the stomach to see a crying vegetarian teenager eat grisly beast flesh, this parting Wii salvo is definitely worthwhile.

Summary

Pros
  • Interesting premise and progression
  • Stellar boss design
  • Unique combat mechanics
Cons
  • Repetitive level design
  • Woeful technical issues

Talkback

GKApril 16, 2013

"see a crying vegetarian teenager eat grisly beast flesh"

Kind of want to play it for that alone now.

Kytim89April 16, 2013

Believe it or not, I would really love to see a sequel to this game for the Wii U, and possible the 3DS as 2D side scroller.

If this game was a 2D game on 3DS, it'd probably be better than Castlevania LoS - Mirror of Fate...

KisakiProjectApril 16, 2013

Yeah I'm picking this up for 2 reasons.  Spite NOA and cause my GF is a veggie.  So this game brings me some kind of sinister enjoyment.  :P:  Plus it just looks awesome even if its flawed.  Looking forward to proudly having all 3 in the op rainfall trilogy.

Kytim89April 16, 2013

Quote from: NWR_Neal

If this game was a 2D game on 3DS, it'd probably be better than Castlevania LoS - Mirror of Fate...

I certainly see potential for a sequel. It could be like the Zelda series where there are multiple games in the series. The games could be connected like links in a chain. Lastly, I would love to see a 2D version of this game for the 3DS. How would it work?

OblivionApril 16, 2013

Stupid Gamestop didn't get their shipment in today.

Pixelated PixiesApril 16, 2013

Quote from: Oblivion

Stupid Gamestop didn't get their shipment in today.


hmm...or did they conspicuously lose it because this game, unlike it's Rainfall sibling, is not a Gamestop exclusive? Perhaps this is their retribution for not being made sole gatekeepers of the hallowed Rainfall Three.

Oh no! The Prophecy has come to pass!

Vrgin XApril 16, 2013

I wasn't notified that PT wouldn't be til tomorrow til I got my text from GS... which was a good half hour before I made it there to pick up 2 other games.

OblivionApril 16, 2013

Quote from: Pixelated

Quote from: Oblivion

Stupid Gamestop didn't get their shipment in today.


hmm...or did they conspicuously lose it because this game, unlike it's Rainfall sibling, is not a Gamestop exclusive? Perhaps this is their retribution for not being made sole gatekeepers of the hallowed Rainfall Three.

Oh no! The Prophecy has come to pass!

The same thing happened with TLS. I think it's just Xseed.

Mop it upApril 16, 2013

The theme is kind of a turn-off, but the game looks like it could be fun. It doesn't sound up to the same quality as the other famous RPGs, so I'll be passing on getting this one on day one, but will grab it sometime down the line.

ResettisCousinApril 18, 2013

Awesome game, and the voice acting of the old woman deserves a mention. It might be my favorite voice acting of any Wii game. I'm also really only distracted by the choppy framerate when using the 'zoom' function. I won't single out this one score, since I think the score numbers thing is passe (and yes I know that criticizing numerical scores is by contrast extremely trendy), but if this game came a little earlier in the Wii's life cycle (which it did... just not in NA) and / or came first to NA of the trilogy, it would have a Metascore more like 80.


(and... not playing for review with the wiimote... when the player character's signature item is a chain he flicks?)

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Pandora no Tou: Kimi no Moto he Kaeru Made Box Art

Genre Action
Developer Ganbarion
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Pandora's Tower
Release Apr 16, 2013
PublisherXseed Games
jpn: Pandora no Tou: Kimi no Moto he Kaeru Made
Release May 26, 2011
PublisherNintendo
Rating15+
eu: Pandora's Tower
Release Apr 13, 2012
PublisherNintendo
aus: Pandora's Tower
Release Apr 12, 2012
PublisherNintendo
RatingMature

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