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Despite continuing to sell like hotcakes year after year, the Wii is still dogged on and picked on by many gaming elitists and fanboys. Without a doubt, the largest complaint toward Nintendo’s moneymaking-machine is the lack of hardcore games. Furthermore, third party developers have jumped on the side of elitists because it is the third party developers who’s games sell abysmally. In spite of all the criticism, I am here to prove you wrong. Well, just on the point about the Wii not having any hardcore games. So this week, I dig way deep into the archive of my many games and reach for Zak and Wiki:Barbaros’ Treasure.
Upon viewing the box art, it may initially seem laughable to call the Capcom developed gem a hardcore game. In fact, when I discovered Zak and Wiki in a bargain bin at my old job and bought it, my co-workers never let me live it down. Fortunately, Zak and Wiki proves true the saying; “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover“, because underneath the child-centric, anime inspired art style, there lies a truly remarkable gaming experience.
Gameplay wise, Zak and Wiki is comparable to point and click adventures like Lucasart’s Monkey Island series which proliferated yesteryear. However, as opposed to just pointing, clicking, laughing and hoping everything comes together, the neglected Wii title has a bit more to offer.
For one, the game is level based, meaning it’s not one whole elaborate playing field, but many elaborate playing fields, making the replay factor much higher. Secondly, the interactions between the Wii remote and television screen such as turning, twisting and lifting are utterly engaging. Surprisingly, the game is no slouch in the difficulty department; you will die a lot and you will get stuck, I assure you. Unfortunately, unlike the click-centric games before it, Zak and Wiki does not have a particularly gripping story. On the other hand, genre conventions such as hilarious death scenes, witty dialogue, and the overall wonderful sense of humor deliver in spades.
Of course, the praise I just bestowed upon this game is nothing unheard of. Zak and Wiki is universally loved by critics everywhere and probably by everyone who owns it. As for the bad news, Zak and Wiki sold horrendously. After a 26 month run, including price drops, Zak and Wiki only sold 126,000 units. Chris Kramer, Capcom’s Senior Director of Communications, is quoted as calling the sales “abysmal”.
So why do games like Zak and Wiki matter? Well, ultimately consumers, such as us, vote with the almighty dollar. When we do not buy games, sequels and similar games will not be produced. Likewise, games that generate sales usually receive sequels and create trends or niches. Complaints geared toward the Wii’s lack of hardcore games will fall on deaf ears; buying games in the ever-shrinking core market will yield results.