Image: Elebits
Konami
In "Elebits," a whimsical and addictive new game for the Wii, players take on the role of a 10-year-old boy named Kai, who sets out on an adventure to capture tiny, colorful creatures that provide power to his world.
By
msnbc.com contributor
updated 1/5/2007 8:37:47 PM ET 2007-01-06T01:37:47
Review

As everyone knows by now, it's the motion-sensing controllers that make Nintendo's new Wii the standout gaming machine that it is. What this little white box lacks in the way of visual oomph and processing kapow it vows to make up for by providing innovative game play through the use of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk.

But the question remains: Will game developers be able to create titles that fully capitalize on the machine's unique controllers and, more importantly, use them in truly ground-breaking and gratifying ways? One thing's for sure, if they don't, the Wii will go down in history as something of a novelty toy rather than a serious console contender.

Thankfully, Konami's first offering for the Wii — "Elebits" — is a sure sign that developers and publishers are, in fact, rising to the challenge. This whimsical, original and surprisingly addictive game has players on a mad hunt for tiny, colorful creatures known as Elebits, and has them utilizing both the Remote and the Nunchuk functionality in some truly creative and entertaining ways.

In this game, Elebits give the game world (one that's a lot like our own) the clean energy it needs to run pretty much everything that, in our world, we use electricity, gas and nuclear energy to run.

The story goes that Elebits have lived in harmony with humans for a long time until, one day, lightning strikes, the lights go out and the little devils start acting rather peculiar. (Speaking of the story, you'll have to wade through an opening fairy tale sequence that's cheesily executed and unnecessarily long, but after that the game immediately kicks into gear.)

Once the action gets under way, you play a 10-year-old boy named Kai who's decided to collect as many Elebits as he can using a Capture Gun that not only zaps Elebits but also picks up and manipulates objects around him.

Image: Elebits
Konami  /  Use the Wii Remote to lift and manipulate objects in "Elebits."
Using the Wii's controls, it feels as though you can physically reach into and manipulate the world itself as you try to find Elebits hiding in drawers, under beds, in closets and outside on city streets, too. They're tricky things, and so you must use the Remote (which controls the boy's gravity-defying gun) to push, pull, lift, turn, twist and shake various objects on the screen and thus uncover the Elebits' secret hiding places and zap them back to where they belong.

Need to open a door? Just turn the Remote in your hand as you would a door knob. Want to pull books off a shelf? Grab hold of them with a click of a button and then yank the Remote backwards as if yanking the books with your hand.

Capture certain Elebits and your gun levels up, becoming more powerful and enabling you to lift ever larger items (a table, a bookshelf, a car) and toss them aside with ease. You quickly find that there's something terribly satisfying about the way in which you can totally ransack a room with a few flicks of the Remote.

And that's the great thing about this game — the controllers feel remarkably good in the hands as you move about and interact with this world, all of it seeming immediately intuitive. For those who do struggle to find their footing with the unusual controls, "Elebits" offers a tutorial, and a rather in-depth one at that. You won't have any trouble playing the game after you've walked through this extensive how-to.

Meanwhile, "Elebits" offers both a single-player story mode, a multiplayer mode (up to four people can compete against each other at one time) and, in a nice bit of added depth, an edit mode that allows you to create and customize your own game levels to play.

Here you can fill a room with objects to search and hidden Elebits to find and then share your creation with other players via Nintendo's online WiiConnect24 service.

No, the game's graphics are not exactly stunning. But again, that's not what the Wii is all about. Instead, thanks to the way "Elebits" incorporates the functionality of the controllers, the game is hugely fun to play, a truly unique offering and one of those titles that manages to keep you wrapped up in it for hours longer than you ever intended.

In short, it's exactly the kind of game that allows the Wii to shine.

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