Link Zappa

20 May

For being a tech demo to show off the Wii’s latest peripheral, Link’s Crossbow Training has a surprising amount of potential. Unfortunately, it doesn’t live up to much of it. To top it off, the Wii Zapper isn’t all that great either. Still, for twenty bucks, this isn’t a bad deal.

Preparing the Zapper can be confusing at first since it requires you to store the Nunchuk’s cable within the handle and then feed the slack through two small holes. Once you have it set up, you’ll notice that you can’t really aim it like a gun by looking down the “barrel”, i.e, the Wiimote. Within the game, there is an option to calibrate the Zapper, but all it lets you do is adjust the height of the crosshair by no more than a couple inches and increase the speed at which the crosshair moves. At first, this pretty much renders the Zapper entirely useless since it’ll be more comfortable to just aim the Wiimote normally, but you’ll find that several of the game modes utilize the Nunchuk in such a way that it’s more comfortable to hold the Zapper than the Wiimote in one hand and the Nunchuk in the other.

The game revolves around a series of levels, each consisting of three stages. Your scores from each stage are added together at the end of a level. Scoring above 20,000 earns you a bronze medal and allows you to play the next level. Majority of the game’s replay value is found in trying to earn higher medals. After bronze, there are silver (40,000), gold (60,000), and platinum (80,000) medals. Each stage uses one three game types.

Target Shooting finds you sitting still in a first-person view to shoot at wooden targets as they pop up and sometimes move about. There are regular red targets, gold targets which are worth more points than red, and blue ‘X’ targets which lose you points. Scoring bulls-eye’s and consecutive hits will multiply your score. Some Target Shooting stages take you to various areas in a location, each with assorted objects like jars and crates that you can destroy for extra points.

Defender has you behind Link in a third-person view. You cannot move Link around, but you can pivot on the spot. A radar is placed on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to alert you to enemy whereabouts. Red dots indicate enemies that will slowly approach you. If they get too close, an alarm will sound. If an enemy strikes Link, you begin to lose points. Green dots on the radar indicate special enemies that, when defeated, grant Link’s crossbow with an automatic upgrade. While regular arrows are unlimited, automatic arrows are in short supply, but can be used to mow down large groups of enemies with ease. You must continue defending yourself until time runs out.

Ranger gives you full control of Link. The controls for this mode feel very awkward at first since the direction Link faces is controlled by the Wiimote, while moving is controlled with the Nunchuck’s control stick. It’s similar to the control setup for Red Steel but much less fluid. In this mode, Link must infiltrate an area and destroy as many enemies as he can. Though it can be used in the other modes, the zoom feature, activated by holding down Z, becomes very useful, allowing you to snipe unsuspecting enemies. You can also charge an arrow into an exploding arrow which covers a wider area and deals more damage. Exploding arrows can be used to defeat armored enemies in a single blow.

There are a few boss stages thrown into the mix, but they all follow the same rules as the other modes. The game does a fair job at giving different targets or different ways to deal with familiar targets. Also, to do away with the monotony, some levels have secret endings. Just look for the scarecrows, and be sure to hit their bodies before you hit their heads.

The potential in Link’s Crossbow Training comes in the faithful recreation of areas and enemies from Twilight Princess. Though the game itself was only above average, the style is present here, and that’s definitely a good thing. The levels take you to various locales from the game including Kakariko Village, Eldin Bridge, Hyrule Castle, Arbiter’s Grounds, Snowpeak Ruins, and many more. It’s a shame though that Nintendo didn’t put more thought into the order and execution of these stages. Link’s Crossbow Training has the potential to be almost an abridged version of Twilight Princess with a cool weapon. Instead, the levels are thrown in a seemingly random order with no real cohesion between them. If the game began in Ordon Village and progressed through the same locales in the same order as Twilight Princess did, Link’s Crossbow Training would have been a delightful companion game. Instead, it will remain a tech demo that can be completed in one sitting.

Pace yourself if you want to enjoy this game. Play just one or two levels, then call it quits for a day or two. That way, it’ll take at least a week before you finish the last, unsatisfying boss. Later, you can come back and try your hand at some of the higher medals. Try to get some of your friends interested in the game if you can. There is a multiplayer mode, but you’re better off letting a friend finish the game for himself, then comparing scores afterwards.

If you played through Twilight Princess, you should be able to see the potential in Link’s Crossbow Training and appreciate the game for what it is: a decent tech demo for an interesting, albeit mediocre, peripheral.

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