Still playing my DS all the time? Damn straight. After I positively devoured Kirby Mass Attack, I expected to get to jump right into the second of the three DS games I am anticipating this fall, Solatorobo. Unfortunately, for some reason Amazon did not ship the game until Thursday, though it was released on Tuesday. No big deal, but I don’t pay for Amazon Prime to get my pre-ordered games a week after they come out. (Actually, I don’t pay for Amazon Prime at all, but that is beside the point) During the interminable wait, I had to play something, so I broke out Elebits: The Adventures of Kai and Zero, a game I picked up out of a bargain bin, probably during one of GameStop’s “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” sales.
I am enjoying it much more than I expected. There is no escaping the fact that this is primarily a kid’s game, what with the childish graphics — by which I do not mean 2D, but that the sprites are large, simple and big headed — and complete lack of difficulty, but there is enough substance under the candy coated exterior to keep me playing. Elebits is a rather clever mix of Pokemon and The Legend of Zelda tied around an annoying central mechanic. I cannot fathom why the game is built around tapping the DS’s bottom screen constantly, over and over and over. In order to power special skills and various contraptions around the game world, the player must collect charge. This is done by tapping on little creatures, the titular Elebits, which pop out from under rocks and out of trees. It isn’t hard, but it is tedious. It is like a Zelda game that is half collecting Rupees that try to run away from you. This stupidity drags the first hour or two of the game to an anti-fun halt.
The rest of the game has been fun. Easy but enjoyable nonetheless. Despite not having actual dungeons, Elebits plays like a Zelda game. That is a huge compliment. The biggest difference is that instead of finding new tools and magical items, the player finds Omega Elebits. These Omegas function identically to Zelda’s tools, with each one having a unique puzzle-solving ability. The Fire Omega, for instance, can spew fire clearing away path-blocking brush and the Ice Omega can create ice platform to let the player cross rivers. To further add to the Pokemon-ness is the fact that the player can evolve most of the Omegas, provided you feed them enough charge, that is.
You will be constantly interrupted from your pleasantly easy Zelda-clone to poke at the little Elebits on the bottom screen. The emphasis on charging does lessen as the game goes on. Your collection tank gets bigger, evolved Omegas cost less to use and the game start providing you with more high charge creatures to capture. Still, front-loading tedium is never a way to hook players. I put Elebits down when Solatorobo arrived in the mail, but one I finish that, and probably Professor Layton 4, I will be back to take on the last third of Elebits.