If you're looking for a game that demonstrates the kinds of crazy gameplay the Wii is capable of producing with its motion sensing controls, Elebits may be right up your alley. Functionally it's a first-person shooter for younger audiences, and the goal is less to shoot and more to capture. Think of it like Ghostbusters, except that instead of ghosts, you're capturing teensy creatures called elebits. Each world in the game is littered with tons of elebits, and many of them are hiding from you. You use a unique capture gun to not only snatch up the little buggers, but also move objects around the environment. It's as though someone at Konami got hold of Half-Life 2's gravity gun and concocted a fairy tale around its technology. The result is a slightly repetitive but oddly engaging mix of shooting and puzzling that isn't challenging but is pretty fun.
They're cute, they sound like kittens, and we farm them out for slave labor to create energy. Nope, can't see anything wrong with that.
You're on the hunt for the titular elebits because, according to the game's lore, elebits are the sole source of power for the world. These cute creatures give off a unique type of energy that renders nuclear power, natural gas, gasoline, coal, and just about every other power source obsolete. Evidently, the elebits are cool with us siphoning off their energy to drive cars and power lamps--at least until one fateful day, when all of the world's power shuts down after a powerful lightning strike. Enter Kai, a whiny brat whose parents happen to be some of the world's foremost elebits researchers. When the power outage occurs, Kai's parents take off to discover the cause, leaving Kai home alone. Kai's parents generally ignore him in favor of work, and he's pretty bitter about it. This event is the last straw, and Kai is determined to figure out what's going on. When he realizes that all the elebits have gone rogue, he snatches up his dad's capture gun and sets off to save the world. This story is told through some periodic bits of narration that pop up in between story missions. These scenes are done with still-frame art that looks quite nice, but the voice acting is horrendous. As if Kai weren't whiny enough through text dialogue, hearing him speak is like a needle through the eardrum. Granted, the story is rather incidental in the grand scheme of things, but there was an opportunity for some Katamari Damacy-like craziness here, and the game doesn't take advantage of it.
To recapture all those wayward elebits, you'll be using the capture gun to search through various areas around Kai's house and town. The capture gun itself is capable of lifting objects in the environment and moving them. If you notice a desk lamp or a trash can shaking a bit, that probably means there are some elebits hiding underneath. Just move around with the Nunchuk's control stick, aim your targeting reticle via the Wii Remote, press A or B to fire, and hold the button down to use the energy beam to grab hold of the object. From there, you just fling the object wherever you like and reveal those precious elebits. Once they're revealed, you fire off quick shots at them to collect them. Of course, if all you did was pick up objects, shoot tiny creatures, and repeat, the game would become monotonous extremely quickly. It's good, then, that there's a touch more strategy to it than that.
The game measures the number of elebits you collect in electrical wattage, and you need to achieve a certain number of watts to clear a stage. You're also under a time limit, ranging from five minutes to 20, depending on the level. One of the better tricks the game has is the way it forces you to not only collect overall watts, but also collect power for your gun. Certain types of elebits provide power exclusively for your capture gun, but the only way to access them is to power up certain types of appliances found in a level, like a flat-screen TV, a phone booth, or a branded Epson printer. You need to boost your gun's level to pick up heavier objects (and reveal more elebits), but you also have to hit a certain overall wattage target to be able to power up these objects, so what you end up with is a nice balancing act between achieving the main wattage target and working to level up your gun.
Elebits hide in everything, so it's best just to shoot or break every object you come in contact with.
It's the same balancing act throughout nearly all of the game's stages, but occasionally the game throws in some seemingly arbitrary rules for certain stages, such as limiting the number of furniture pieces you can break or forcing you to keep your rampant destruction to a quieter noise level. There's not much explanation for why these rules are in place. Being loud doesn't scare off all the elebits, nor is anyone around to yell at you if you break too many vases. The rules are seemingly there to try to add some variety to the objectives, but they just get in the way.
That's mainly because the best thing about Elebits is its ability to let you run amok. This is probably the best "make a mess" simulator you've ever played--you can throw junk all over the place and lay waste to any environment. Granted, making a mess is less a priority than collecting all those cute elebits, but as you power up your gun and get the ability to pick up bigger objects, you can really have a field day, picking up cars, buildings, and just about anything that isn't nailed down in the later stages. All these objects sport full-on physics, so there isn't much you can't grab onto and throw about. Of course, those physics aren't always spot-on. There are some goofy movements to some of the larger objects in the game. Everything looks like it has the same weight and consistency to it when it hits the ground, whether it's a plate or a semitruck. Certain smaller objects break apart, but a lot of them don't. Also, having to use the capture gun beam to open doors is beyond annoying. There's just not a lot of realism to the physics, but considering the fantasy vibe the game puts off and the fact that it's more about making a silly mess than it is moving objects around realistically, it's easy to forgive the occasionally wonky physics.