Sept 28, 2007
Ever sipped from an innocuous mountain spring, only to find your guts afire hours later when the “refreshing purity” reveals its true bacterial payload? Like the Evian-to-be that had you hugging the porcelain that time in the Brecon Beacons, Dewy’s Adventure pledges refreshment, disguising a cruel backstabbing agenda within.
Backstabbing, you say? Okay, it’s a bit strong, but we must admit we’re disappointed. During the Wii’s wobbly training feet days, Elebits was the perfect crutch. Picking out just one of the Wii’s unique features - the pointer - Konami crafted a delightful, domestic rummaging game. It was short, sweet and, most importantly, was able to forget the old way of doing things, and fully embrace the alien experience that is Wii.
It’s just so “game-y.” Six worlds with four stages each, sub-bosses and a self-contained boss battle - we’d be forgiven for thinking we’d slipped into the mid-nineties. Back in the day we would have chided a game for having such sparse aspirations, but with so few titles falling back into this habit, Dewy makes it seem like the return of an old friend. Albeit one who was a bit of an asshole.
However, while Elebits’s concept existed to massage the ego of the Wii’s fledgling control scheme, Konami would seem to have developed Dewy from the opposite end - taking a concept and painfully grafting a control scheme on to it. They’ve gone down the tilty remote route - you tilt a horizontally-held remote as if tilting the level itself - but Dewy is very rarely a tilty game. If you look at Monkey Ball, Kororinpa or Mercury Meltdown Revolution, all three are primarily about the danger of over-tilt or imbalance and the main threat to you is the horror of, as Monkey Ball ominously puts it, “fall out.”
In Dewy’s Adventure, however, “fall out” is just one of many things that idly threaten your health bar. Slip him from the arena and you’ll suffer half an energy droplet loss. Oh have mercy on us. This is no careful balancing act, but a simple platformer with a dev team too lazy to implement the analog stick. It’s deeply telling that most of the game is spent on gigantic platforms ‘cause the control is so screwy. Way to compensate, developers!
No, the only time tilting seems to have defined the level design is during some nerve-shreddingly windy paths that more daring gamers can choose to explore should they wish to liberate all of Dewy’s pals. In terms of tilty moments specifically demanded of you, we can name only one - crossing a barrier-less rainbow path to the level exit. And that bit’s swearingly awkward thanks to Dewy’s dedication to handling like porridge.
Kudos, though, for all the heat puzzles. Cooling and warming Dewy (and the whole level around him) provokes very pleasant visual variation as the screen ices over and vegetation shrivels away, before sprouting back as you make it sunny again. It goes further than playing havoc with the ecosystem, though. Heating can raise water levels in colder levels, and cooling can harden lava, making this one game that dares do something with the obligatory ice and fire stages its traditional bent demands.
Ironically, most combat boils down to freezing Dewy and smacking the gormless foes - we counted about ten times in the whole game that a common enemy actually laid a hit on us. Sub-bosses and (admittedly ace) main bosses require more thought, as you try and combine icy and electrical attacks (courtesy of an evaporated hot Dewy) into deadly combos. Cooling a dragon’s lava breath to form a walkway to his noggin’s weak point will certainly make you smile, but it doesn’t make up for the (literal) rinse-dry-repeat monotony elsewhere.
Good bit/bad bit counterbalance runs throughout the game. Artistically we’ve little time for Dewy and his sub-Toad level mushroom chums (and that’s saying something), yet we love the solidity of the levels and all the wind-chime ornaments that adorn them. Chirpy fungi cries are cuteness in a soundwave file, yet the electro-drivel soundtrack aspires to the backing music heard in awful clubs. The map-builder is the essence of simplicity, but the four-player mode that employs its fruits is complete and utter bilge.
And as for the wealth of unlockables? These are trinkets that normally work to turn a game you like into a game you love. Failing the former criteria here, however, their inclusion seems pointless. We were so sure that Konami really “got” the Wii, and while Dewy’s Adventure isn’t offensively bad, it’s damning evidence that the Wii can baffle the best of them.