MiÚrcoles 28 de Noviembre de 2007, Ip n║ 218

Rack Your Brain With a Thinking Person's Games
Por Chris Kohler And Lore Sj÷berg

Is your brain crying out for attention? This week's new videogames will get your synapses snapping. You won't need quick reaction time to solve these lateral-thinking logic puzzles or work out a winning strategy for a card battle. But do bring your finest thinking cap -- and a whole boatload of patience.

Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure

This Wii game would have been a sure-fire hit 15 years ago. A personality-and-humor-filled, point-and-click adventure with puzzles that delight in punishing your intellect? Sounds like 1993's game of the year. But today's adults won't go for the cartoonish packaging, and kids will get frustrated with the puzzles.

So Zack and Wiki is doomed to be a cult classic. But if you fondly remember the days of Monkey Island and Gobliins, this is your cult.

The premise is simple: Young pirate Zack and his flying golden monkey, Wiki, are on a quest for treasure. But, wouldn't you know it, every treasure just so happens to be at the end of a complicated series of item-based puzzles. Faced with a locked door, you might have to turn a snake into a grabby-hand to pull a key from a treetop, then use it to pull a chain to cause a platform to fall down, so you can walk across it. In all this, you're using the Wii remote's motion controls to mimic the actions of each item.

What makes things even harder is that your curiosity will often result in immediate death. Fail to pull that chain before you walk over the seemingly stable floor, and it'll collapse. Occasionally, the game telegraphs these traps. But more often, it does not, and you die and get booted back to the beginning. This is how you learn.

It's frustrating, maddening, infuriating and a heck of a lot of fun. Sometimes, I felt that the cheap deaths were being used as a substitute for good puzzle design: that things would have been much easier had the game not been booting me back to the beginning every few minutes through no fault of my own. But for the most part, it was the good kind of frustration, the kind that today's player-coddling games rarely feature.

Chris Kohler

WIRED: Triumphant return of an underrepresented genre; excellent use of Wiimote controls; difficult puzzles.
TIRED: While there is a "retry" option, you'll occasionally restart the puzzle at a point at which it is already impossible to solve.

The Eye of Judgment

Physical playing cards are neat, because they're portable and you can play practically anywhere. Online virtual card games are handy because the computer handles the dealing and shuffling, and you can play with strangers and be reasonably sure they're not cheating. With The Eye of Judgment for PlayStation 3, Sony manages the impressive feat of combining physical cards with online gaming, while eliminating the advantages of each.

The game includes a camera, a play mat and a mess of game cards. You play the game under the watchful gaze of the camera, and the PlayStation 3 renders the proceedings on your TV screen, turning the mundane game in front of you into, well, the same game with nicer graphics. You can play against the computer, against another human being sitting at a table in front of your television with you, or online.

There is, when you get down to it, no good reason to have the camera. Actually placing cards down on the table adds nothing to the game but the thinnest layer of novelty. The game could easily be completely digital, and in fact the camera adds problems. For instance, cards are not always recognized, even under reasonable living-room lighting conditions.

All this might be forgivable if the card game itself were fantastic, but it's not. It's pretty good, but it's not particularly deep or strategic. If it were a free Flash game or a cheap downloadable game, without all the camera nonsense, it would probably be worth it. But as a full-blown, full-price PlayStation 3 game, with cash-sucking "collectibility" built in, it's just too much money and too much hassle.

Lore Sj÷berg

WIRED: Reasonably fun card game with goblins and elves.
TIRED: Pointless, shallow camera gimmick.

  09/11/2007. Wired Magazine.