This is the first ‘modern’ game, so to speak, that I’ve covered in these features, and I’m proud to do so. The game was released in 2007 in the UK and developed by Konami during a time which felt like Konami was solely interested in Dance Dance games, and putting out their yearly Pro Evolution Soccer release. Sure Metal Gear Solid 4 was out the next year but otherwise, Konami were going through a relatively quiet time where releases were concerned. The announcement of the Nintendo Wii must have ignited something within the developer however, as they dived straight into making use of the new motion sensor controller that Nintendo had developed. Eledees arrived as a launch title in Japan with next to no fanfare, and it took my world by storm. Speaking of which…
Eledees sees you, a young boy named Kai, having to deal with the aftermath of a particularly harsh lightning storm which has seen all the electronics knocked out in your home and the surrounding town. Kai takes it upon himself to fix the problem but it’s not just any old electricity he’s dealing with; the world’s power source is a tiny race of creatures known as Eledees (or Elebits in the US). They power everything and Kai feels responsible for what’s happened because he wished there would be no more Eledees and due to the storm, the Eledees panicked and went into hiding. He’s jealous of how much attention his dad, a scientist, gives these little creatures and so feels guilty after the event. Gripping stuff this, and thankfully, it’s not the storyline that makes this stand out amongst the masses.
The game is played from a first-person viewpoint, and has you starting off in various rooms of your house. You’ll be searching through these rooms using your dad’s Capture Gun to catch the runaway energy source, and restore power to the home and all its appliances. Traversing the rooms is accomplished by using the Wii nunchuk to get about, and the Wiimote will guide your direction.
The capture process is truly inspiring. Not only will you be pointing at various objects on the screen, whether it be a plate in the kitchen, a TV in the living room, maybe a bin in the bathroom, but you have to manipulate them properly using the Wii remote to its fullest. That bin you saw? You can’t just click it. You have to hold it, lift it, AND turn the Wii remote so you can pour the Eledees out of it before you snatch them up. The game is full of great innovative moments like this. There’ll be Eledees inside a microwave. You have to click on the door, and pull away towards you to open it. Some might be stuck inside an item, and you have to grab it and shake furiously to cajole them all out of it. If you ever saw the classic kids TV show ‘Finders Keepers’ back in the ‘90s, you’ll know exactly what to expect from this because these rooms WILL become a great mess.
It’s not always about simply seeking out the Eledees. Sometimes, household appliances need to be activated before you can unleash more of the little buggers. Some will be ready to use straight away while others will only operate after you’ve built up enough power to use them. Microwaves will cook, light switches will bring light to a room, air conditioners will spit out the little fellas by the dozen. You have to plan carefully how you’re going to get about the house and which chain of captures will enable you to activate those appliances which will provide the greatest benefits.
The action soon leaves the house and you’ll eventually find yourself in your gardens, the local neighbourhood, and even at a funfair. What gets even cooler is that as you progress through the game, you level up your capture gun which means you start finding yourself able to lift heavier items. You’ll start the game only being able to lift kids toys, chairs, bins, but on giving the gun the boosts it needs to progress, you’ll soon finding yourself lifting tables, cars, houses… you get a great sense of freedom, and it’s extremely satisfying just flinging things left , right and centre because you just want to. Chaos ensues and you soon forget what you were doing in the first place.
Of course, the game would get stale if it was always just about finding the creatures in various locales, so you start finding levels with certain parameters to meet. One level asks you to accumulate as many Eledees as possible whilst trying your best not to break any items. You start the level thinking this should be a piece of cake but are then presented with a room absolutely loaded with china, glass, and other easily breakable items, some stacked up on top of each other. Other levels have you trying to keep the noise down whilst doing your thing. As the Eledees are living creatures, you’re not always in full charge of what’s happening with the surroundings so you need to be very aware of what’s going on around you, as well as what those pesky bleeders are up to.
Boss levels are also mandatory, though they’re not as fun as the usual levels, often boiling down to zapping the enemy as much as possible whilst avoiding obstacles it flings in your direction. Levels can feature zero gravity conditions where the entire area looks like a frozen aftermath of a bomb going off. Even the Eledees themselves will only give so much electricity dependant on the mood they’re in. If you’ve been throwing objects with wanton abandon and the Eledees have been in the firing line, they’ll be very unhappy and sad, meaning less energy to use. If you cheer them up through the use of appliances for instance, you get bonus energy. There’s a lot going on at any one time and the constant ticking of the timer ensures you’ll be on your toes trying to figure out the right approach to take.
The audio does a fine job of settling you in to the proceedings. The voice acting is on par with most over-acted Japanese translations, but it’s fun and works for the setting of the game. The music is quirky and upbeat, keeps the action flowing. It’s what you’d expect from most arcade Japanese titles. There’s a lot of effects going on within the game which let you know what’s going on and where, and the objects you’re flinging about make the relevant sounds you would expect. It especially makes the levels where you need to keep the sound down that little bit more tense as for once, you won’t want to hear anything that’s happening. Just hope you don’t hear any smashing as you’ll get penalised for it!
Graphically, the game is a lot like a Pixar movie. Nice rounded objects, covered in bright colours litter the levels and it keeps the game fun. Had it looked graphically as sound as say, The Last of Us, with it’s highly realistic areas, it wouldn’t be the same. The game is cute, and the visuals need to be ‘cuddly’ to maintain the right mood. This may fall in line with gamers’ accusation that Nintendo is the ‘kiddy company’, but those ‘players’ miss out on the more unique titles out there. The visuals can sometimes be a little too smooth and blurred mind you, and you’re sometimes left begging for a bit more detail as the objects can be a little vague as to what they are.
The game has nearly 30 levels, and each can last between 7 to 20 minutes so there’s plenty to get through here. I’d be amazed if you manage to ace each level first time too, there were definitely a few frustrating moments for me which meant having to replay levels again but I never felt screwed over. On completion of the game, you can go back and try out the score attacks, challenge modes, and even just play an area for as long as you like in ‘Eternal’ mode for a bit of peace and quiet, free from restrictions. There’s also an edit mode which you were able to share your own levels with other players online, though I believe this feature will no longer be active with Nintendo’s focus shifted to the Wii U.
It’s a charming title that surprised me when I found myself to enjoy it as much as I did, and the reason I bought it was simple; it offered something unique. The Wii gets a lot of flack for the amount of shovelware that was released on it, but there’s also some really awesome titles that got lost in that mess, or were swept aside by the Mario / Zelda fans who wanted their usual fix. Check out titles like Zack & Wiki, Madworld, Boom Blox, the Wii had some supremely good and under-appreciated games, and Eledees is yet another hidden gem amongst the few. You can get this game second hand for £1 on the high street! If you have a Wii sitting there, please go get this and enjoy one of the most fun titles you could enjoy on that little white box, because rather than wiggling furiously (as you may be adept at already), Eledees rewards patience and manipulation instead, something criminally under-used in the Wii library.
Follow Carl on Twitter: @auto2112