Sans Peter Jackson.
There were myriad analogies and fancy writing techniques I was going to use to get the message across in this introduction, but I think it’s easier if I just come right out and say it; Kong: 8th Wonder of the World is boring. It’s not necessarily broken – not in the sense that one of its features is underdeveloped, at least. It’s a fully-functional action / adventure game that does exactly what it promises. The big problem is that, while everything works, it’s tedious, dull, and lacking any sort of excitement that the console game is supposed to have.
You take on the roles of Jack, Carl, and Ann, who arrive on Skull Island to make the movie of their careers. Something goes awry when Ann is captured by natives and you’ve got to go out and save her. As the screenwriter, Jack, you’ll have a machete and a shotgun, so you’ll probably be using him the most. For some reason or another, Carl is incredibly strong, so you’ll use him to move boulders to solve puzzles. When Ann is finally rescued, she’ll be able to heal members of the team and, of course, call out the star of the show, King Kong.
The game is divided into two parts. When you’re part of the film crew, 8th Wonder of the World plays out as a dungeon crawler with small spurts of shooting. Along the way, you’ll be able to collect items, which you’ll fuse together to make useful tools. Most of the time, the ingredients that you need are in plain view, so making your grenades, rafts, and such is generally pretty simple. Just as easy to solve are the puzzles placed throughout the various temples and dungeons, since the target audience seems to be younger gamers. And in that sense, King Kong is frustration-free.
Every once in a while, fortunately, the game switches over to Kong, and you’re finally given some entertainment in the form of side-scrolling, brawling levels. Crush your way through hordes of dinosaurs and other beasts as a huge ape on a rampage. As you rip through enemies, your rage meter will increase. When you max it out, the screen becomes red in hue and all of your attacks will become much more potent. While these levels are brief, they’re a breath of fresh air compared to Jack, Carl, and Ann’s storyline. Unfortunately, this is really the only redeemable trait of the entire experience.
For starters, the visuals are hopelessly dated, looking more like an impressive Game Boy Color game. Character sprites have a complete lack of detail and environments seem to be reused on a consistent basis. To put it simply, 8th Wonder of the World is an ugly, ugly game.
As for the audio, I mostly played it muted, since the accompanying music sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard and the sparse voice acting sounds like something from the NES. With such low production values, I can’t help but think the developer saw the presentation as an afterthought.
In the end, Kong: 8th Wonder of the World is a quick cash-in on a property that was supposed to be one of the good licenses to use for video games. Perhaps that was only the idea for the console title, which is probably why Peter Jackson didn’t want his name on this one.