What Not to WiiWare - escapeVektor: Chapter 1 & Horizon Riders
I don't think it's much of a secret that I'm the "Nintendo guy" here at GameZone. Up until earlier this year, the only current gen console I owned was the Wii, the only handheld I play is the DS, and even now, I continue to game persistently on my Wii. Oh, I'm also frequently reporting on the latest Nintendo news, and I constantly check out WiiWare games and provide reviews for them here on the site.
Yeah, I'm definitely the Nintendo guy. But hey, that's not a bad thing, because it's gotten me my very own weekly column here on GameZone. So without further ado, I would like to gladly present our latest weekly feature, What Not to WiiWare. Join me as I dig through the latest downloadable titles to land on Nintendo's online shop, and get the honest verdict. Are the latest WiiWare games any good? Find out here. It's going to be a scary journey (I mean, look at all those bad games!), but it's one I'm willing to take part in.
escapeVektor: Chapter 1
When I first saw screnshots of escapeVektor: Chapter 1, I thought it looked like a poorly crafted title that probably wasn't even going to play like a real game. Then I saw some gameplay footage, and I thought it had potential. Of course, I try not to get my hopes up too high when it comes to WiiWare, so I immediately told myself that escapeVektor was going to blow. Upon playing it I realized how wrong I really was to have misjudged this clever little download so early.
You must guide the titular Vektor through 30 digital levels across a computer CPU, where countless AI threats await him. In all honesty, the main objective of the plot in escapeVektor is to give a narrative to this stylish download. Thankfully, though, it's nothing overly pretentious or stupid. It mainly gives you a character to care about as you explore the virtual world in escapeVektor.
Speaking of exploring, you do so by guiding Vektor through geometric stages, filling in white lines with color as you progress. After you've filled in the entire level, it is your job to reach the newly opened goal. It's not as simple as it seems, though, because the entire time you're traveling across the geometric field, you must dodge and in some cases outrun enemies. One hit and it's all over for you, so you need to utilize your upgradable bombs and speed boost to their fullest potential. The game gets pretty challenging, but it's definitely fun exploring the CPU and taking on the sinister AI.
Visually, escapeVektor looks pretty stylish in a minimalist sort of way. The background grid, polygonal enemies, and geometric stage design all combine to create an aesthetically pleasing experience. Adding to the game's presentation is an impressive collection of themes that should appeal to fans of chiptunes. The music is memorable, and it adds to the overall vibe of the game.
With a good assortment of levels, hidden exits, secret stages, good visuals, and great music, it's impossible not to recommend escapeVektor: Chapter 1. And at just $5, this one's definitely worth a download. Bring on Chapter 2!
Wow, it's the first edition of What Not to WiiWare, and I already find myself in a bit of a conundrum. Horizon Riders is, for all intents and purposes, a game that poses an awesome concept. Simply put, it's a rail shooter that utilizes both the Wii Balance Board and the Wii Zapper, two of the console's long forgotten peripherals. The game makes both of these accessories relevant, but if you don't own the Balance Board, there's no use in downloading this game.
You take on the role of a mercenary who must restore peace to the planet after an evil entity threatens to take over. The story isn't anything special, and the text-based narrative doesn't do it any favors. Thankfully, you can skip through the story sequences and get right to the action. Horizon Riders plays just like you would expect, throwing waves of enemies at you and forcing you to dodge their fire. It's a rail shooter through and through, and it's a lot of fun.
Of course, Horizon Riders is only fun if you're playing with the Balance Board. Shifting your weight from side to side causes your character to strafe, and it works incredibly well. Using the Wii Remote or Zapper, you aim at your enemies, and holding down on the B button fires your projectiles. The whole setup is pretty neat, and it's great to see such clever use of the Wii's ignored add-ons.
Unfortunately, if you're not playing with the Balance Board, Horizon Riders just isn't as fun. You strafe by tilting the Wii Remote left and right, you aim using the controller's pointer, and you jump by giving it a quick flick. With so many actions mapped to different motions, it's impossible to have full control of your character, and you're likely to find yourself forgetting to aim as you tilt the controller to dodge enemy bullets.
The presentation in Horizon Riders is pretty good. The visuals are colorful yet simple, and the music can be catchy at times, though it's largely unremarkable. The use of the Wii's peripherals and enjoyable on-rails gameplay make this title worth the $8. That said, if you don't already own a Balance Board and don't plan on ever owning one, you can skip this download entirely.