The list of Capcom’s recognised and beloved characters is astronomical, second only to Nintendo in the rankings of all-star characters. Between every Street Fighter, Darkstalkers, Devil May Cry, Dead Rising, Resident Evil, Final Fight and Mega Man, it’s understandable that some beloved characters have been pushed to the background and forgotten. However, some otherwise forgotten from previous years have been making a bit of a resurgence recently. The announcement of the Capcom Beat ‘em up bundle, gave a revival to long-lost series like Captain Commando and Knights of the Round and laid a path for the potential revival of other long-neglected games like Power Stone and Rival Schools.
It’s in this context that I’d like to talk about the potential that lies within what I believe is the most forgotten of Capcom’s forgotten children: Zack and Wiki.
If you don’t remember what Zack and Wiki was, it was a Capcom-made, Wii-exclusive puzzle adventure game that came out in 2007. In the plethora of Capcom cult classics that are still requested to return, Zack and Wiki are never mentioned, why?
The overall premise of Zack and Wiki is pretty simple. Aspiring Pirate boy Zack and his monkey sidekick Wiki complete puzzles across multiple treasure maps to collect the cursed body parts of a fabled pirate named Barbaros so he can lead them to ‘treasure island’ and his legendary pirate ship. Like I said, a simple, but effective premise to get behind for this swashbuckling adventure (there’s a reason Steel Ball Run is basically the same thing).
I’d like to talk start off with the game’s major strengths: its art style and character design. Some people might be sick of cell-shaded art styles in 2018, but this game’s areas are still so visually charming and aesthetically pleasing to me. The same sentiment is shared with its character design. I feel like every character design in this game is a slam dunk, from the savage little enemies, to the imposing bosses, the wide and varying members of Zack’s ‘Sea Rabbits’ crew, and even the antagonist Captain Rose. This cast of charming characters in this visual splendour of an art style produce a big smile every time, but none are more charming and loveable than that crafty little pirate boy who dreams of being the worlds greatest pirate and his shapeshifting golden monkey pal (if you’re about to make a one piece comparison, let me nip that right in the bud.)
The game is puzzle-based and follows the traditional point-and-click style, using the Wii mote to point Zack where you want him to go and different kinds of Wii mote movements to solve the puzzles. The puzzles are well balanced in terms of their difficulty, sticking around the Professor Layton level of difficulty. Not “The Witness” levels of mind-bendingly hard but still having a couple of headscratchers in there. However, this may vary for people who are smarter than me, and trust me, that is many people.
So the game is a visual wonder with a good range of fun yet challenging puzzles. Now onto my only gripe with the game, the controls. I know it’s a bit played out to rag on about motion controls in 2018, and I would like just to preface this with the fact that I’ve always been a Wii apologist, as I’ve always thought the Wii’s motion controls were at least passable. But this is the motion control straw that broke the motion control camel’s back (nailed it).
I’d like to make clear that the motion controls in this game are for the most part fine; a bit jittery here and there but mostly fine. However, there is an optional minigame where Barbaros’ personal musician, named “Bonelich,” plays a little tune and you have to ring a bell in rhythm with the song, in a rhythm game style.
Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Except I am pretty sure that this game is 100% impossible. Ringing the Wii mote like a bell in rhythm with what is displayed on screen never seems to work, no matter how accurate or careful you are. This means having to repeat it over and over again, which also gives you a sore arm as well (this game hurt me, I’m suing). This may not seem so bad, but this optional minigame unlocks upgrades for Wiki and extra treasure maps, so if you want to 100% the game, look forward to a sore arm, either from repeatedly playing the minigame or punching a hole through your TV like I almost did.
So do I think it’s likely, or even necessary for this game to get a revival via a sequel? Honestly, no. As much as I’d love to see Zack and Wiki get another game to nail the concept without the motion control issue, I don’t see it happening and I don’t know if a sequel is what is really needed. However, I think these characters are pure gold (heh), and it would be a huge waste for them to not be used like this.
However, I believe I have a proposition that could work. One Capcom property that fans have been dying for a revival of is Power Stone, the 3D arena fighting game that originally appeared in the arcades and on the Dreamcast. Fans have been waiting for a new Power Stone since the PSP re-release from 2006, and if that new Power Stone happens, I know a certain duo who would absolutely fit right in.
Whether this is what brings Zack and Wiki back to us, or if it is any other capacity, I’ll be waiting, Capcom, waiting by window, staring at the moon, waiting for you to come back into my life, with my favourite pirate and monkey duo.