The following review was written by James Loone (YouTube CloudRazielHD). If you are interested in submitting a review to possibly post on Gamester81.com as well, please send an email to [email protected].
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat. Pandora’s Tower should not be compared to its two “Operation Rainfall” brothers. Because of the fact that it’s more of an action orientated game, the characters aren’t as likable, the story isn’t as wonderfully crafted as The Last Story, and there is nowhere near as much customization or variety as Xenoblade Chronicles. That being said, Pandora’s Tower is by no means a bad game. In fact, it stands tall as one of the most unique, fun, and engaging titles on the Wii, and I’m exited to tell you the reasons why it is an essential purchase for any owner of the “soon-to-be-dead” console.
Pandora’s Tower follows hero Aeron, a seemingly emotionless fellow who is tasked with the mission of venturing forth into The Scar. The Scar a large chasm formed in the land, bound by chains preventing it from expanding any further. In the midst of this chasm is a gigantic castle, inside of which are twelve towers, guarded by twelve masters. As Aeron, you must conquer these towers and bring back the flesh of the monsters you kill to your beautiful lover, Elena, in order to free her from a mystifying curse and save her life before she is transformed into a gruesome creature.
Whilst traversing these towers you will come across various environmental puzzles and foes to challenge, which are both fun and at times challenging to take on. In order to solve these puzzles you must use your chain given to you by Mavda, a mysterious old woman who helps you along the way in your quest, selling you items and buying any spare monster flesh you may have in your possession. This chain is a mystical artefact that can also be used during fights with enemies’ and can help you traverse the environment. However the chain becomes essential when taking down the fantastically designed boss battles. Most of the puzzles are easily solved with little thought, despite being really well designed, and the enemies lack decent variety throughout each tower.
The aim of the game is to defeat the twelve masters atop the twelve towers, bringing back their flesh each time you defeat one, and feeding it to Elena to nullify the curse. However, because of the rapid speed in which the curse is affecting her, you only have a certain amount of time to do this before the game is over. This is where the next mechanic of the game comes into play.
The whole game is essentially set on a timer. If you find yourself running out of time you will need to head all the way back to the beginning of the tower and to the Observatory where Elena is resting along site Mavda to feed her some more monster flesh to slow down the curses progression. When you do this however, none of the puzzles are re-set and all the doors you have previously opened are still unlocked, making it no problem to get back to where you were before. Racing back to Elena in the middle of doing something in the Tower gives the game a sense of urgency and reminds you what you are really fighting for. You will find yourself looking for shortcuts and faster ways to return to the beginning of the Tower when you are progressing, as well as attempting to memorise the route back, just in case you run out of time. The way the different Towers are designed makes it easy to swiftly return to the begging without it feeling like too much of a chore.
At the begging of the game the combat may seem simple. You have one weapon, a sword, in which to take out any enemies you encounter and simple attack and roll/block buttons. However as you progress through the game you do acquire a couple more weapons. When you get the chain early on the combat immediately becomes more in-depth as you can use the chain in numerous ways to take out anyone standing in your way. An on screen pointer, similar to the one found in Twilight Princess and the like, shows the direction you are aiming the chain in and with a tap of the B button you can execute different moves by aiming at different things. In addition you can zoom in to make more accurate shots whilst the game slows down allowing you to do this with ease. Even with these different techniques the combat can start to become repetitive around halfway through the game and you will find yourself fighting groups of enemies praying that you are drawing near to another boss encounter.
I find it important to note that although I wasn’t able to try it out myself, the game does support Nintendo’s Classic Controller.
Now, onto those Masters. These large bosses are designed in a way that you cannot harm them using normal attacks. Instead you have to use your chain to hook onto their “master flesh” in order to weaken them. As you might imagine, it’s not as simple as merely throwing your chain at the beast, pulling its flesh and repeating. For example, one boss has you mounting its back after taking out its legs and aiming at the weak point on its head. Another has you swiftly evading its fire breath attacks and waiting for the most opportune moment to strike. The bosses have great variety and are a good mix of everything building up to it whilst fighting through the tower, including both puzzle and combat aspects. Whilst the bosses are very well designed, they can be problematic at times due to the troublesome camera angles and the speed at which you are required to aim at some of the weak spots. Even with these small flaws the bosses are very memorable, exciting, and taxing, but at times unnecessarily frustrating.
The soundtrack of the game is brilliant, including numerous reworks of classic well-known musical masterpieces including the Dies Irae from Verdi’s Requiem.
Visually the game is nothing special. The textures lack detail and the environments sometimes look a little uninspired and dull. On top of this the voice acting is average, with no performances that really stand out as being fantastic. The character models are exceptional, matching their personality and situation perfectly. Elena is a vulnerable looking beautiful lady, where as Mavda is a scary, mysterious old woman. Aeron is a brave, bold knight, sporting great looking white armour, with gold trimmings.
Overall, Pandora’s Tower is a great game, with an illustrious soundtrack accompanying the exiting and sometimes challenging combat. A great narrative that keeps you fighting on will make you want to see this game to the end, even with it’s many minor flaws and repetitive nature. The fifteen hour story offers almost no replay value however, and even with it’s five different endings and “New Game + mode”, you will not want to play through the game any time soon after you have finished it.
The small gripes I had with the game weren’t enough to detract from the overall experience, and I recommend purchasing this game to any Wii owner.
Pandora’s Tower Gameplay:
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