Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
|Zack & Wiki:
Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
|Genre(s)||Point-and-click adventure, puzzle|
Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure, known as Takarajima Z: Barbaros no Hihō (Japanese: 宝島Z バルバロスの秘宝, lit. "Treasure Island Z: Barbaros' Secret Treasure") in Japan, is an adventure/puzzle video game published and developed by Capcom for the Wii video game console. It was first released in North America on October 23, 2007, and was later released in Japan, PAL regions, and as one of eight Wii launch games in South Korea. The game stars the aspiring pirate Zack and his monkey friend Wiki. Shortly after joining a pirate gang called "The Sea Rabbits", the pair discovers a talking skull belonging to the pirate captain Barbaros. In exchange for helping find all the pieces of the captain's cursed body, Barbaros promises to lead Zack and Wiki to the coveted "Treasure Island" and his legendary pirate ship.
Inspired by traditional graphic adventure games, Zack & Wiki features a unique way of puzzle-solving by coupling a point-and-click interface with gesture mechanics using the Wii Remote. In each level, the player is tasked with reaching a treasure chest by guiding Zack with an onscreen cursor and then interacting with objects to solve puzzles leading to the treasure. The Remote is used for mimicking actions such as pulling levers, turning keys, and pouring liquids. Shaking the Remote also rings Zack's companion Wiki like a bell, which transforms any nearby enemies into usable tools for solving each level's numerous puzzles. Zack & Wiki enjoyed a very positive reception from major news and gaming publications. However, the game suffered much less enthusiastic sales worldwide.
Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure is presented as a third-person perspective adventure game. In each stage, the player is required to overcome obstacles by solving puzzles and advance towards a treasure chest. The player controls the actions of hero Zack through the Wii Remote by pointing to objects on the screen, identified by an onscreen cursor, and having Zack move about the level and investigate objects and contraptions. Creatures and enemies in the level can be transformed into practical items by holding the Wii Remote vertically and shaking it left to right, causing Zack to shake his ally Wiki like a bell. When the player has Zack interact with a usable item, the game shifts to a first-person view and the player is prompted to mimic the operation of the item with the Wii Remote. For example, in one of the game's earlier puzzles, the player must create a bridge out of a tree. This is done by ringing Wiki to change an enemy centipede into a saw, then using the tool to cut down the tree by holding the Wii Remote horizontally and moving it back and forth in a sawing motion. The game contains over 80 different gestures, which range from pulling levers to playing a flute.
Successful actions award the player a set amount of "HirameQ" points based on the cleverness of the action, how many attempts it takes to perform the action correctly, and its difficulty level. After reaching a treasure chest, the player must exorcise the evil spirits covering it by ringing Wiki. The game then tallies up the total number of HirameQs in a level and gives the player a grade based on performance. Zack's reputuation as a pirate will improve with a higher HirameQ total and as more treasures and items are found throughout the game. While not exploring levels, the player has the opportunity to return to Zack and Wiki's pirate hideout to access a treasure library, send fellow pirate Maddy out to search for secret treasure, and purchase "Oracle Dolls" and "Platinum Tickets" using money found in each stage. Platinum Tickets allow the player to continue if they die during a mission. Oracle Dolls can be traded for a hint at any time during a stage.
"Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure" details the adventures of the titular protagonist, Zack, whose dream is to be the greatest pirate in history. He, and his enchanted monkey sidekick, Wiki, are the newest members of the pirate gang, "The Sea Rabbits". On their flight to the Sea Rabbits' hideout, Zack and Wiki, along with Johnny, the Sea Rabbits' pilot, are attacked by a rival gang of pirates called "The Rose Rock Pirates", led by Captain Rose, a young, spoiled girl who believes that the world's treasure is hers for the taking. She shoots down Zack and Wiki's ship with the help of her goons, and they crashland on a tropical island where they discover a treasure chest containing the golden, talking skull of the infamous pirate captain, Barbaros. When they first meet, Barbaros seems to recognize Wiki, referring to him as "the one who turned him into gold". Wiki, however, does not seem to remember the captain. He promises to lead the two to the famous "Treasure Island" and give them his legendary pirate ship if they will help restore his cursed body by collecting its various pieces that are scattered around the world.
Zack and Wiki search through several locations, each one containing either a missing piece of Barbaros' body, or a treasure map leading to other areas. They start in the jungle, where they soon encounter a group of hostile beings called "Growlin' Goblins", a group of natives that are cannibals, who feed on nothing but stew and are, strangely enough, worshippers of fire. After a few encounters with these creatures (and a close encounter with a monstrously sized fish named Gulppy), Zack and Wiki meet the "King of the Jungle", an enormous Growlin' Goblin that the smaller Goblins worship almost like a god, who serves as the boss of the first area. They find out he, unlike his people, is not very smart and is afraid of fire, so they trick him into running away. Eventually, the King meets his demise after a long fall down a pit, which Zack survives with help from an umbrella.
Their second stop is a frozen ruin, where they find Captain Rose and her Goons trying to excavate some of Barbaros. However, the local creatures (along with a mechanical, time-controlled street-sweeper and the fact that the Goons themselves are not very clever) have led to their defeat or being trapped in a dangerous situation. After several encounters, they finally run into Captain Rose, who captures Wiki to unlock the chest (having deduced that Wiki is the key to the treasure she is after). However, before she can even use him, she inadvertently awakens the boss that guards the treasure: a giant head of a lion that breathes freezing breath known as Chillion. Using a complex light refraction system (of which Captain Rose becomes an unknowing part of when she becomes frozen by Chillion's breath), Zack uses its power to melt Chillion and free Wiki. The melting, however, also frees Captain Rose, who is extremely agitated for being used as a part of a monster-slaying mechanism. Zack and Wiki, however, escape with the treasure.
The third point in their journey is a massive, dormant volcano. The Rose Rock pirates (once again) try to take the treasure, but are (once again) hindered by local dangers (such as giant spiders and mechanical walkers that patrol the volcano). Through several struggles, the duo enter the core of the volcano and meet a cute baby dragon. They try to make friends with him, but when Zack accidentally scares him with a funny face he made, he incurs the wrath of the baby dragon's mother: a full-grown wyrm (named Swellosaurus) that is not friendly. After dodging several of the wyrm's fireballs (and the use of several Goons to solve the area's puzzles), Zack uses a giant hammer to break a giant chandelier, full of water. Seemingly, the wyrm is killed when it is doused with water, but a cry from her baby reveals the creature was merely stunned. The map to the last of Barbaros having been acquired, Johnny (in his new plane) takes the guys to the next area so that the treasure hunt can be finished.
Unfortunately, Captain Rose (having become tired of the Sea Rabbits getting the treasure first) promptly attacks them and has her Goons steal the map. With no other choice, Zack and Wiki enact "Operation: Take Back!". Sneaking onboard Captain Rose's ship, they succeed in defeating many of the Goons and scare Captain Rose with a frog that somehow got into the ventilation system.
Finding the last piece of Barbaros in a chest in the captain's own castle, Zack rings Wiki in order to return Barbaros to his former self. This restores Barbaros' humanity, but also reveals his true intentions, that he never planned to give Zack anything and wishes Treasure Island all for himself. It is also revealed that Wiki was the one who originally cursed Barbaros, of which Wiki had lost memory. Barbaros then casts the duo into a pit and departs for Treasure Island.
Zack and Wiki give chase and join forces with the Rose Rock Pirates to trail Barbaros to Treasure Island, which seemingly floats in a gap at the center of the earth. There, the heroes outsmart Barbaros and escape Treasure Island with his ship. During the getaway, Barbaros attempts one final assault using a large mechanized creature called Gigaros. Zack is able to repel this attack in the end, but at the cost of losing Wiki to the collapsing Treasure Island. The epilogue details life soon afterwards, with a despondent Zack in the Sea Rabbits' hideout. He hears a familiar ring and rushes out to find a chest washed onto the shore. The game ends as Zack opens the chest.
Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure was directed by Eichiro Sasaki and produced by Hironobu Takeshita. Sasaki had previously worked on other Capcom titles such as Power Stone and Resident Evil Outbreak; Takeshita had previously worked on titles in the Breath of Fire series and Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins. Since joining Capcom, Sasaki had wanted to design a point-and-click adventure game, having been inspired by such titles as Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom and Dezeniland. The idea of creating such a game came about before the Wii console's announcement. Development began in autumn or winter of 2005 with an early version of the game created within a six-month period using a trial-and-error approach. At the production's peak, a total of around 55 people were working on Zack & Wiki, and it had decreased to 40 people near its completion. Five individuals were primarily responsible for creating the game's puzzles; programmers and other staff often submitted their own ideas and suggestions for the puzzles.
According to Takeshita, the Wii Remote lent itself well to this kind of gameplay: "We wanted players to be able to enjoy the puzzle solving aspects of the game without getting bogged down with complicated controls." One of the team's goals was to successfully combine cognitive puzzle solving with the physical gestures using the Wii Remote. They had technical difficulty fine-tuning this gesture system to be used by anybody, as all players gesture differently. Although Zack & Wiki was initially designed for players in their early teens, Takeshita was confident that the game could be enjoyed by players of all ages. The game's inclusion of both logically and instinctively solved puzzles, as well its colorful cel-shaded presentation and mostly traditional storyline and characters, were also designed to appeal to wide range of audiences. The design team decided in the early stages of the game's development that if the player dies, he or she must start that specific puzzle over from the beginning. Because many people complained about this aspect in the game's testing phase in America, they added the ability of the player to buy his or her way back to life. From the project's start, Zack & Wiki was designed as a single-player video game. About midway though development, the design team decided to include the "guide cursor system", in which additional people may use their own Wii Remotes to aid the player by drawing and pointing out elements with cursors. Takeshita emphasized that this system would create a kind of "party-style atmosphere" for those wanting to enjoy the game with friends. Although Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection support was announced for the game when it was first revealed, this feature was later dropped.
The pirate theme of Zack & Wiki was decided in its conceptual stage. The game was first announced by Capcom under the working title "Project Treasure Island Z" in March 2007 and was officially unveiled at Capcom's San Francisco Gamer's Day that April. The title was changed in the English localization shortly thereafter due to international copyright conflicts relating to the similarly themed novel Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. The developer went through nearly 200 names before settling on the final one, which Takeshita explained was descriptive of the main characters and plot and, in order to appeal to children, a name one may associate with a kids cartoon series.
Leading up to its October release date, the newly titled game was featured at several gaming conventions and tradeshows including Japan's annual World Hobby Fair, San Diego Comic-Con International, the Leipzig Games Convention, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), and the Tokyo Game Show. In a promotional video for the game first shown at E3, Zack & Wiki featured background sounds after accomplishing certain tasks. One such sound used in the video was the Islamic prayer "Allāhu Akbar" ("God is great"), which was repeatedly used as players worked on a puzzle while tribal islanders prayed around a totem. After receiving complaints and being contacted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Capcom removed the phrase from the game.
Zack & Wiki was advertised differently in each region of release. In Japan, the game was promoted by television personality Kusano Hitoshi. A related manga titled Takarajima Z Bara Shoku no Shinju (宝島Z バラ色の真珠, lit. Treasure Island Z: Rose-colored Pearl) began publication in the premiere issue of Kerokero Ace magazine on October 21, 2007. According to Christian Svensson, the company's Vice President of Strategic Planning and Business Development, Capcom's outreach was largely "family-targeted" rather than for core-gamers. Additionally, despite prominent television advertising in the Japan, the developer wanted to rely on "word of mouth" to market the game in the United States, as it had done with the Ace Attorney series. Capcom later sent out an online reviewer's guide for the press and made a Flash demo available on game's official website. To promote the game in South Korea, Capcom included a mousepad and a tiny treasure chest containing a candy necklace with each copy preordered. One hundred of these preorders were to have a real pearl necklace in place of the candy one.
Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure has received very positive reviews, with the controls being especially praised. The game currently has an average of 86% on Game Rankings and 87 out of 100 on Metacritic.
Leading up to an official announcement on June 18, 2007, Matt Casamassina, the editor-in-chief of IGN's Nintendo Channel, and Mark Bozon had been praising the game for its originality and unique gameplay. In an announcement for the "Buy Zack & Wiki Campaign", Casamassina officially stated that the two would make it their obligation to make sure that as many people as possible will buy the game upon its release.
Zack & Wiki received a number of honors, awards, and nominations from the gaming community and by various news and video game publications alike. It received a Gold Award from Official Nintendo Magazine and an "Editor's Choice" label from both IGN and GameSpy. The game won "Best Wii Controls" for 2007 by NGamer magazine and "Adventure Game of the Year" from GameSpot. It was also included on IGN's "20 Wii Games You Should Already Own" and Gaming Target's "52 Games We'll Still Be Playing From 2007".
Zack & Wiki was named one of the best games for kids in 2007 by USA Today, one of the best family games of the year by MSNBC, the ninth best video game of the year by Fox News, and the 27th best game of the year by The Daily Telegraph. The game's control tutorial, in which the player falls out of a plane and must make a parachute out of an umbrella, was called one of the "Greatest Gaming Moments of 2007" by MTV.
Other awards, nomintions and accolades included:
- 2nd best game of 2008 (Official Nintendo Magazine)
- 7th best Wii game of 2007 (Nintendo Power)
- 11th best Wii game (IGN in 2009)
- Game of the Month, October 2007 (IGN)
- E3 2007 Runner-up Best Adventure Game: Overall (IGN)
- E3 2007 Best Adventure Game: Wii (IGN)
- E3 2007 Best Artistic Design: Wii (IGN)
- Best Puzzle/Parlor Game: Overall (GameTrailers)
- Nominee Best Social/Casual/Puzzle Game (Game Critics Awards)
- Nominee Game of the Year 2007 (1UP.com)
- Nominee Adventure Game of the Year 2007 (1UP.com Editor's Choice Awards)
- Overlooked Console Gem 2007 (1UP.com Editor's Choice Awards)
- Japan Game Critics Future Award 2007
- Most Surprising Game 2007 (Nintendo World Report)
- Runner-up Wii Best Value 2007 (Nintendo World Report)
- 26th Best Wii Game (GamePro in 2009)
- 25 Games You Shouldn't Overlook (GamePro)
- Runner-up 2007 Wii Game of the Year (Kotaku)
- Nominee Most Original Game 2007 (X-Play)
IGN's GamerMetrics had predicted that Zack & Wiki, along with Super Mario Galaxy and Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, would see a sales boost from the year-end delay of the highly anticipated Wii fighting game Super Smash Bros. Brawl. However, Zack & Wiki sold only 300,000 copies worldwide by the end of Capcom's fiscal year 2008. The game sold fewer than 35,000 units in the United States in November 2007 and continued to grow "steadily" in the following months, still yielding much lower sales numbers than other third-party Wii titles from Capcom. After several price drops, Zack & Wiki managed to sell 126,000 units in the region within 26 months of release. Capcom's Senior Director of Communications Chris Kramer described these numbers as "abysmal". The game reached number 29 in the Japanese sales charts during its release week, selling 26,658 units there by the end of 2007. Zack & Wiki reached number 17 in the UK in the all format games charts during its first few days on sale in the country. Finally, the game sold about 8,000 units in South Korea in its first month during the Wii's launch there. Kramer reasoned that the game sold poorly due to the then-current Wii market being "tough to crack" and "ever-shifting" for the third-party publishers lacking knowledge regarding Wii software consumers. Capcom Product Manager Colin Ferris partially blamed the art design for the main character Zack on the game's sales. "Well, you know, Zack & Wiki... Another one in a long line of very highly rated Capcom games that unfortunately did not sell very well," Ferris said. "We can take a part of the blame on ourselves by having it star a shirtless boy pirate. That is actually a personal favorite of a lot of people in Capcom, so don’t be surprised if you see it again but we have nothing in the works at the moment." Capcom reported in June 2008 that it would not be announcing a Zack & Wiki sequel anytime soon.
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Barbaros: Alright, it's a deal! If you can put me back together, I'll take you to Treasure Island. And give you the old girl. Yes, my legendary ship! The reward is set. I leave putting me back together in your capable hands, Zack.
- Capcom (2007-10-23). Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure. Nintendo Wii. Capcom.
Wiki: Huh? Why am I gettin' a bad feeling about this? It feels like we've done something very, very bad. Barbaros: Thank you Zack! And now for what you've been waiting for! The reward! Hoho... You wanted my ship? Hoho... I'm afraid that won't be happening. Treasure Island is mine! The legendary ship! The treasure! It's mine! All mine! HWAHAHAHA!
- Capcom (2007-10-23). Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure. Nintendo Wii. Capcom.
Johnny: That's a funny looking treasure chest. Did it just wash up on shore? Rose: OHOHOHO! That treasure is mine! Johnny: Yo Zack! Open it up!
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