Kameo appearance

Kameo boxart
Kameo boxart

Title: Kameo: Elements of Power
Format: XBox 360
Release date: 2006
Obtained: 2006
Place of purchase: Gift
Price: N/A
Completed?: No

Kameo was one of the first games I got for my XBox 360 when I was given it as a Christmas present back in 2006. At the time, it was an amazing game with wonderfully colourful graphics that screamed ‘next generation’ at you and hit you over the head with their highly-defined awesomeness. Alas, coming back to play it in 2012 it did very little but annoy me. The big, big (big, big, big, in fact) problem I had with it was the camera. My God, the camera is awful. It’s almost as if the designers sat around a table in an office complete with a whiteboard which had the topic ‘How can we make the camera as dreadful as possible’ on it. After several hours of debate and diabolical-plan-hatching they tend took their heinous ideas and gave them to Timmy the work experience guy to program, thus ending up with an utter travesty.

So irritating was the camera, with its lack of centering ability, no enemy lock-on and a tendency to auto-switch to an inconvenient angle at the worst possible moment, that Kameo has become one of the very few games in recent years that has caused me to eject the disc from the console in utter disgust. In truth, I shouldn’t just blame the camera for that: the movement controls also lack precision; walking around is a very ‘floaty’ experience (even when you’re not meant to be floating) and the difficulty of aiming at enemies is unforgivable.

It’s all a bit of a shame, really, as the game has its good points. Other than the aforementioned graphics (which, to be fair, still look good), the game has enough of the humour that developers Rare are, or at least were, known for. The game’s main USP – that you can transform into various creatures with different abilities – is also well implemented. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll ever get around to finishing it because the camera and controls would just make it so annoying that I’d end up putting my head through the TV screen.

 

Kameo, just before the camera did something annoying.
Kameo, just before the camera did something annoying.

Twilight Princess, thankfully devoid of sparkly vampires

Twilight Princess GameCube boxart
Twilight Princess GameCube boxart

Title: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Format: Nintendo GameCube
Release date: 2006
Obtained: 2006
Place of purchase: Gameplay.co.uk
Price: Unknown (probably around £30)
Completed?: Yes

Warning: Spoilers contained not just for this game, but also Skyward Sword!

Twilight Princess spent longer languishing in my ‘must complete’ pile than any other Zelda game apart from Majora’s Mask (which, to date, I still haven’t got around to finishing). I finally this year made a concerted effort to get through it, and did actually manage it. TP is pretty much everything you’d expect from a modern Zelda game; in many ways it seems a kind of ‘greatest hits’ compilation, with modern redressings of settings from Ocarina of Time with a darker edge to the story and graphics that are reminiscent of Majora.

It is a brilliant game, as you might expect from its pedigree. There are wonderfully tricksy puzzles, a combat system that is really the pinnacle of the non-motion-controlled Zeldas (I’m talking about the GameCube version here, of course), and one of the best supporting characters ever in the shape of Midna. But there is a problem: it’s too long. It took me around forty hours to complete, and I didn’t really do an awful lot of the side-quests as they mostly seemed likely rather tedious collect-a-thons. For some titles, forty hours isn’t an issue, but in the case of TP it seemed rather as if the last few hours were rather tedious. Unfortunately for me I’d reached the point of ‘oh-not-another-dungeon’ around three of them before the end. It doesn’t help that the last couple of levels don’t really add anything new to the game other than some locations which occasionally lapse into exercises in frustration when you mis a jump by pixels because of the 3D camera. The final boss fight is also dragged out by virtue of taking place over four separate phases, the last of which features a Ganondorf with more hit points than you can shake a Deku stick at. It’s not hard to beat him (certainly a lot easier than Demise at the end of Skyward Sword), just rather tedious because it lasts that long.

This all sounds rather negative, though, which is unfair because for the vast majority of the game the typical Zelda excellence shines through. There are a few brilliant stand-out moments, like the battle on horseback on the Eldin Bridge against the Moblin boss, and searching for the tears of light, but it’s the general high-quality of the game that’s most noticeable. I’m glad I went back to complete it, though I don’t think I’ll be attempting it again for quite some time.

It's Midna. Midna is cool.
It’s Midna. Midna is cool.