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Critical Reception: Konami's Elebits

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Konami's Elebits for the Nintendo Wii, an original action/puzzle title that has drawn comparisons to past hits like Half-Life 2, Pikmin, and Katamari Damacy.
This week's edition of the regular Critical Reception column examines online reaction to Konami's Elebits for the Nintendo Wii, an original action/puzzle title that has drawn comparisons to past hits like Half-Life 2, Pikmin, and Katamari Damacy. For many gamers, Elebits has been one of the Nintendo Wii's most anticipated titles outside of its original launch lineup. In the game, players use a tractor beam (said to be similar to Half-Life 2's Gravity Gun) to dismantle a series of environments in order to find and capture the Pikmin-like Elebits, tiny creatures who supply the world with electrical power. Critics have been intrigued by the game's premise, noting that Elebits' whimsical setting and gameplay progression are both reminiscent of Katamari Damacy and its sequels. These same critics, however, have in the past expressed worry that Elebits' unique control scheme and status as a first-generation title could result in a game that was more of a demonstration of gameplay concepts than a satisfying, full-fledged gaming experience. The final product seems to have met with a warm reception, though, currently earning an average review score ratio of 74% at Gamerankings.com. Alex Navarro of GameSpot scores Elebits at 7.5 out of 10, noting that the title's novel gameplay is its biggest asset. "If you're looking for a game that demonstrates the kinds of crazy gameplay the Wii is capable of producing with its motion sensing controls," he writes, "Elebits may be right up your alley." Though he mentions that the game is fun for the most part, Navarro feels that this fun is sometimes limited by unnecessary restrictions. "Occasionally the game throws in some seemingly arbitrary rules for certain stages," he says, "such as limiting the number of furniture pieces you can break or forcing you to keep your rampant destruction to a quieter noise level." Navarro continues: "There's not much explanation for why these rules are in place. Being loud doesn't scare off all the elebits, nor is anyone around to yell at you if you break too many vases. The rules are seemingly there to try to add some variety to the objectives, but they just get in the way." "You'll come away from Elebits with an interesting mix of reactions," Navarro concludes. "The motion controls are nicely done, and the puzzle nature of the levels can be quite addictive. But as cool as Elebits can be, it's rarely the game part of it that really stands out. Elebits' technology is what drives it--the combination of the motion controls and the hearty physics engine turns what is, in essence, a pretty simple kids' game into something greater than the sum of its parts. "The Watcher" at GamePro also has mixed feelings about Elebits, noting that, "Much like the creatures themselves, Elebits the game is a cute creation that, for all its minor annoyances, that you can't help but like." Rating Elebits at a 4 out of 5 in fun factor, "The Watcher" feels that the game's positive points outweigh the negative. In particular: "The Wii's control scheme along with cute central characters and an equally charming soundtrack take a relatively simple idea and endow it with a sense of depth and tactile interaction." "The game can be annoying at times," he summarizes, "and the limited time you have to find the Elebits makes things a little hairier than necessary but this is still one of the more original and fun titles available for the Wii." IGN's Matt Casamassina is equally positive. "Elebits is in a rare class of Wii titles that genuinely capitalize on the functionality of Nintendo's controller, promoting its strengths," he asserts in his 8.3-out-of-10 review. "As a result, it is oftentimes incredibly entertaining and fun." "The fact that just about every object and item in the various Elebits stages can be manipulated means that you will have more fun than you probably should just creating messes of rooms and hurling everything from buckets and tables to beds and cabinets around," Casamassina said. "It's a very engaging and satisfying process." Despite some minor complaints regarding Elebits' graphics, Casamassina is otherwise full of praise. "If you're looking for a visual stunner, Elebits is not for you," he warns. "But if you just want a really fun outing that's every bit as original as it is engaging, I think Elebits is your game." Though many critics expected Elebits to suffer from the lack of depth that plagues many first first-generation offerings, several reviewers so far have come away impressed with what they have played. If future Wii games can strike a similar balance between gameplay novelty and depth, Wii owners could soon end up with a library of well-received titles like Elebits.

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