US Import: Eledees
11th Feb 2007 | 16:47
Perhaps we'll get used to the name. Although we honestly don't know what was wrong with Elebits. Still. However you pronounce it, Eledees always spells the same thing: Brilliant And Imaginative Fun That's Tailor-Made For The Wii Remote.
As expected, Eledees has turned out a bit like Katamari Damacy - the disturbingly happy PS2 game of rolling the entire world up into a snowballing spheroid. Because it's all about scale. Starting with an object-levitating laser that can barely lift a nail, you gradually build power until you're dragging air balloons out of the sky, throwing buses into the air - and casually swatting away giant bits of scenery that, back in the gurning-over-nails days, were the architecture that actually shaped the level. It sounds like fun - and it really is.
Make a mess
You've the Eledees to thank. You need to suck up a certain number, Ghostbusters-style, to pass each level. And for the most part, they hide. They hide good. So levels turn into a messy treasure hunt, where you move a vase and uncover a snoozing blue Eledee, or get yellow Eledees gushing from a lampshade like a fruit machine jackpot. Later levels - knowing what's good for them - play fast and loose with the rules.
So you're picking out fully visible Eledees in an eerie gravity-free world of levitating furniture, or nabbing some particularly excitable beggars before they knock a vase over and smash through a breakages limit that's been imposed on the level.
So you need to turn playrooms and kitchens upside down in Eledees. Of course you do. But, by god, is it fun making a mess. By the time a level's over, you're left with a bomb site of discarded drawers, tipped-over tellies and upturned beds. It's every kid's dream to have permission to reduce a tidy room to "looking like a pigsty" (as Mum always called it). Here, you get to turn an entire town into a knee-deep carpet of junk, tearing through the place like a whirlwind to knock tankers off their wheels and throw trees into the air.
The framerate might chug in places, but you honestly won't care. Wii remote aiming is a bit fiddly with smaller items, and door handle-twisting is a pain, but so what? It's still tummy-leapingly enjoyable, and, despite Eledees' limited number of locations, there's a decent array of challenges.
But we're not sold on all its ideas. Those zero-gravity bits outstay their welcome. The boss levels - bunging a beam at enraged, engorged Eledees - are awful. And the game could've done with moving a bit faster. It seems to take hours of kitchen sink drama (and bathroom toilet, and bedroom cupboard) for the beam to finally yank open the door to the fresh air of the yard.
Which means frustration often sets in when the clock runs down, because you got stuck behind a fallen table; or fried by the odd little tanks that litter some areas; or slowed down by a less-than-obvious Eledee hiding place.
Still, by the time you reach the later levels - where you've got the power to hand-turn a fairground carousel, and 50ft tin robots are blasting into space around you for some unexplained reason - most of Eledees' problems will be forgiven.
It's a shame the whole game is set at night, making for a slightly claustrophobic journey. But hours will have passed in the blink of an Eledee's starry eye, and you'll have formed a genuine phobia of the mutant knee-high, tantrum-liable bear-monsters that haunt the later stages.
With its messing-about-in-a-sandbox feel, and unlockable variations of each level that happily hand you a full-powered laser and no breakage/noise limits, Eledees feels like a game that's had some thought and love put into it. And nowhere is that better demonstrated than in the construction kit: a fully fledged level builder that unlocks as you play, giving you infinite - more than infinite, mathematicians are just going to have to admit it - possibilities to experiment with the game's rewardingly off-kilter physics and slightly eerie game world.
Eledees is one of those game concepts (like our beloved Super Smash Bros) that, in the hands of its clearly smitten creators, has blossomed. And it's one of the few Wii games that feels like it just wouldn't work on any other system.
Which just leaves that bloody name. Can we go back to Elebits for the sequel, please? In retrospect, we'll get used to the tantrum-bears before we get used to that new name.