What Not to WiiWare – Anima: Ark of Sinners

WiiWare has been a weird mixed bag over the past couple of months. Solid releases such as the highly ejoyable MotoHeroz and incredibly awesome escapeVektor: Chapter 1 have had the distinction of bringing some quality to Nintendo's download platform. Falling block puzzler Fish Tank has attempted to provide a fun experience, though it has mostly delivered a sub-par waggle-laden bore. Then there's Aya and the Cubes of Light, which really only served to stink up WiiWare even more. Now we have Anima: Ark of Sinners. The game certainly looks decent, but is it a good value at $10?

Anima: Ark of Sinners

In Anima: Ark of Sinners, you play as a female named Celia who has found herself in a dark and dreary city. In search of her friend Nemo (yes, I instantly thought about Finding Nemo), Celia must brave the haunted city with only a strange harlequin to give her hints and reveal bits of the city's history to her. The story is fairly intriguing, and because of the interesting characters, you'll want to learn more as you go along in your quest to find Nemo (see what I did there?).

Sadly, you're not going to be too interested in the actual mechanics of Ark of Sinners. The whole thing plays out like a dumbed down hack-and-slash game. Though the core gameplay elements are great, the way the game delivers them creates an experience that's far too lackluster. Now, I'm not saying this is a broken game like the abysmal Aya and the Cubes of Light, but its flaws are far too glaring to make it a worthwhile endeavor.

Celia's movement is slippery, making navigating treacherous platforms a chore. Her jumps are decent, but controlling their height and Celia's midair movement can be cumbersome. And the actual combat is a terribly boring exercise. Hack-and-slash games aren't known for their variety, but Ark of Sinners is too monotonous, and the wonky controls make battling enemies as you progress through levels a bit tiresome.

The graphical presentation in Ark of Sinners is pretty good, which makes the fact that the gameplay is so dull even more disappointing. Though you won't see anything too extravagant here, the game does a good job of providing a solid atmosphere with dark backgrounds and crumbling foregrounds. The music in the game is also good, though it tends to repeat too often. It's a shame that these elements are actually enjoyable, because a game with this visual vibe and haunting soundtrack deserved better gameplay design to round out the package.

Anima: Ark of Sinners isn't a terrible game. It's merely a game that could have been so much better but sadly failed to live up to its potential. If this was a $5 download, I would say it's a decent distraction and a saddening glimpse at something that could have been great. At $10, though, there's no way I could possibly recommend this WiiWare game.

Skip it!