Review: Pandora’s Tower (Wii)

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Console: Wii
Player: single player
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Action/RPG

So here I am with the review of my newly beaten game Pandora’s Tower.

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Story:
The game is set on the continent of Imperia, a land once divided into ten kingdoms (during the course of the game there are nine, because one kingdom was taken off the Vestra (its people) by the king of Elyria).
It is the year 511 of the Unified Era, which began after the War of Unification ended. A new war, the War of Independence, is occurring between Athos, Certes and Thena against Elyria and the other Kingdoms for independence from Imperia.

The game is mainly set in the Wastelands of Okanos in the Kingdom of Elyria. In these Wastelands, there is a large chasm called “The Scar”, which is only stopped from growing bigger and engulfing the world by the Thirteen Towers, suspended in the middle of the valley by twelve chains connected to the surrounding cliffs. These Towers are where Aeron must collect the Master Flesh required to cure Elena of the curse. But how did this all happen it is up to you to find out!

To find out you play as Aeron. The story starts at the city of Elyria, where Aeron’s sweetheart Elena is singing for the harvest festival. Suddenly something dramatic happens leaving the city in chaos and Elena cursed. It is up to Aeron to save her. Travelling together with the old Vestra, Mavda, they head out to the Wastelands of Okanos, a place known as the scar.

The curse Elena has gotten is the mark of the beast. The only way to stop this awful curse is to retrieve the master flesh. Aeron must use the Oracles Chain (a weapon) and dive into the 13 Towers to stop his beloved from changing into a monster.

Gameplay:
The game controls are simple, you control the game with the Nunchuck and the Wii Remote. [A] for attack and [B] to dodge. You have to aim with the Wii Remote at the screen to cast your Oracles Chain at enemies or objects.

You can access the in game menu with the [+] and [-] buttons on your remote. Hold in the [A] button for a more powerful attack. If you aim with your remote at the screen you enter a zoom mode where you can aim your chain better. If you aim your chain at a monster, you have to pull it with the [thumb stick] and pull the controller towards you, in such a way that it seems that your character is holding the chain tight for a longer time. This is required for most combat. Waiting untill the chain power bar has been filled up will inflict some serious damage to your foe. But be careful, the enemy can also use your chain to attack back at you. The interface itself is well designed and easy to use.

Now we understand that Elena is cursed and the old Vestra “Mavda” tells our hero he must gather master flesh from all the towers right? But there is more. Once you enter one of the towers you will see on the bottom left a timer which exists of three colours. Grey purple and red. That is the timer telling you how far Elena’s curse is before she slowly starts to transform. Grey is safe, at purple she slowly transforms, with red she is looking slowly like a monster. If the timer runs out you hit the game over screen.

Don’t panic, even though the timer slowly moves to the purple and red locations, there is a way of filling this bar up again. Simply gather bits of the flesh; the higher the quality of the flesh, the more your time bar will filled up. Return to Elena and feed her the flesh to fill up your time bar. The more the bar gets filled up, the more time you have to explore each tower. Also while you progress through the towers, you will find more shortcuts inside them to find an exit quicker towards where Elena resides. This makes it fun to explore the towers as you don’t have to worry to visit the same boring long way over and over again.

Keep in mind you can level in this game. Once you level your character, your character can wear more equipment, so he can wield more trinkets, also the chain gets more powerful and you gain more health.

So you are in the towers to find your way to the master flesh, but your path is blocked by chains that keep the final door in the tower sealed tight. It is your job then to locate the starting points of these chains and destroy them. Once the chains are destroyed you can proceed to the boss to kill him and to get your master flesh. On your way you can gather valuable items that boost your hero.

Keep your eye open for old unreadable texts that Elena can translate. Scattered around the towers is a bit of lore about the world and towers which can prove to be quite useful. Every boss has a different way to be defeated. You have to use your chain to damage the boss.

The more pulling pressure you have on the chain, the more damage you will inflict on the boss. When you have defeated the boss, you will be able to extract the ‘Master Flesh’ from him.
The boss battles themselves are very well done. You will need to use your creativity to kill them. Sometimes help from the environment can get you a long way.

Once you return to Elena you give her the master flesh which she has to gobble down and you see some videos playing. I won’t tell you what that is, since I don’t want to spoil anything.

When you are with Elena at the observatory you see another golden bar on the left of the screen (vertically). This is your affection with Elena.
The higher your affection is, the better ending you will get in the game. There are six different possible endings to this game. To increase Elena’s affection, you talk to her, be nice to her, spend time with her or give her gifts which you can find throughout the game or buy from Mavda. In return, Elena will end up giving you helpful items or translate texts and books. It is worth the hassle.
Sometimes you have to choose if you want to use the items to upgrade your hero or to give them to Elena to make your bond grow, so choose wisely.

This game has as well a crafting system where you can upgrade your weapons or create new items, healing potions, trinkets, gifts and armour etc. The crafting interface is simple to use and the created items can help you in your journey.

Every tower has unique items you can gather for crafting. For example: The Treetop Tower has a rare plant that only appears at dawn. Keep a look out for rare items as they are a great aid in this game.

The scripts Elena translate, you can sell to Mavda to gain extra Leots (the currency). You can as well sell any remaining flesh to Mavda for some extra coin and sometimes she also accepts items.

Music:
The music in the game blends well with the theme and environment. It’s beautifully put together, giving a good feel whether you are in a battle situation, exploring the towers or at the boss. The music never gets boring.

Graphics:
You can clearly see the emotion on the characters during the dialogues.

The visuals are looking good too and the environments have an interesting look and feel. The themes of the towers never get boring. The character animations are smooth and enemies have very detailed creepy looks to them. Enemies have sometimes huge animations during their fights with you (especially boss fights).
This is definitely one of the better looking games for the Wii. I would even say that the game is on the very edge of possibilities with the Wii as I experienced sometimes slight lag from the console.

Difficulty:
The games difficulty scales over time, making it challenging enough. Some beasts can really hit a hard punch. It is strongly recommended to upgrade your weapons to inflict more damage on the beasts. If you are stuck on these fights, try creating some armour. It is always handy with more defence and some useful buffs on your armour. The enemies are no push over, they are smart and they can defend themselves. They can take your chain and hit you back. Or they will simply ram you down if you anger them. Some enemies will attack you from behind or corner you. No enemy is the same they have all different tactics in taking you down or to be taken down by you.

Good points:
– The game keeps you busy for about 20+ hours,
– It has different elements of game play, giving you plenty to do,
– The exploration is deep you can find hidden chambers giving you good rewards,
– The fighting mechanism is well-thought-through. You can attack different body parts of your enemies to see different effects: stunning and confusing them and making them unmoveable or slash your chain at multiple enemies. If you damage one enemy the others which are near will also take damage. Different weapons means diversity you can choose a fast weapon for faster attacks or a slow weapon for longer range and heavier damage output.
– The timer adds a good point to the game you have to choose wisely when to return to Elena to give her flesh this makes the game balance,
– Crafting is a fun addition to the game, here you can craft valuable items and gifts to help your progress,
– No boss is the same, meaning you never know what you are up against.
– The lore you gather in the world can be actual hints. Mavda can also actually give you valuable hints how to gather rare material.

Weak points:
– The camera can be quirky, disorientating the player giving the computer an unfair advantage,
– Sometimes the camera won’t focus where you would like it to,
– Some sounds just don’t fit in the game, like Elena’s sighing while eating the flesh. It is over dramatized.
Getting Elena’s affection value to the max can be a real grind. At the last levels this is more the grinding. A serious tedious part of the game.

Conclusion:
Pandora’s Tower is a great game, packed with lots of emotional moments, memorisable characters, endless battles, lots of exploration and crafting. The graphics the Wii produces is a nice bonus. This game does make all the hard efforts rewarding. The player keeps continuously connected to the storyline, partly because of the old texts that you will find throughout the game. The grind for affection and the quirky camera can cause a slight frustration. The game requires some skill: sometimes you have to stop and think how to overcome your next obstacle.

I recommend this game to anyone who would love to have a Japanese adventure/ RPG game added to their collection. This game is truly beautiful!

You can find more information and see a trailer of the game at:
http://www.nintendo.co.uk/NOE/en_GB/games/wii/pandoras_tower_45558.html

The Game Mistress

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