Pandora's Tower: This year's strangest Wii game?
25th Jun 2011 | 19:30
You're probably familiar with Pandora's box, but were you aware she also had a tower? Well, it turns out she does, and predictably it's chock-full of hideous monsters.
Normally we'd steer clear of such an edifice, but Pandora's Tower's hero Ende will be forced to explore it, and others, to find a cure for a pox-ridden girl. (We're guessing there was nothing suitable in Superdrug.)
This is the latest action RPG from Ganbarion, creators of about 9,320 One Piece titles. Don't know One Piece? It's a series of role-playing/fighting games based on a manga about an elastically charged pirate named Monkey D Luffy and his misfit crew, called the Straw Hat Pirates. Obviously. Pandora's Tower couldn't be more different.
WOULD LIKE TO MEAT
The whimsy of Ganbarion's earlier games has been replaced with Final Fantasy-style epicness and impeccable hair - and if the box art is any indication, they may have resorted to even closer copying, seemingly borrowing artwork from upcoming PS3-exclusive Final Fantasy Versus XIII. We'll let you be the judge on that, but it sounds like all that in-game piratical activity may have rubbed off.
Pandora's Tower begins, as all the best things do, with a harvest festival. Unlike the ones at school, however, this doesn't involve donating shoe boxes containing dusty cans of sliced pineapple and minestrone soup to disinterested old people. No, this harvest festival involves singing and, of course, beasts.
Fifteen-year-old Ceres is one of the lucky few to be invited to sing at the event, but her moment of glory is curtailed when vicious monsters attack. After the battle, the army try to take Ceres into custody, but a 22-year-old soldier named Ende abandons his post to scarper with the girl into a nearby tower. On Earth, you can get arrested for that sort of thing.
It turns out Ceres was cursed in the attack, and that she's slowly transforming into a beast herself. To stave off the infection, she has to eat the flesh of other beasts - raw. That's particularly galling, as she comes from a society of vegetarians (we swear we're not making this up). Guess who has to make their way up the tower to acquire this most indelicate of meats? That's right - muggins here, playing as the daring Ende.
It seems there'll be 12 towers in total, each featuring a boss fight at the very top. Presumably Ende will chop up these monsters and turn them into boss-burgers after they've been defeated. Mmm, boss-burgers...
Said chopping looks like it might be a lot of fun. In addition to a nifty sword, Ende is equipped with a chain - sorry, the Orichalcum Chain - which was given to him by a dwarf named Graiai. (If the name's ringing a few bells, we think he might be related to that chimp from Super Monkey Ball.)
Not only can the chain rend the very flesh from beasts, it also lets you know how close Ceres is to turning into the Incredible Hulk. During the game, a timer appears in the corner of the screen. If it runs out before you stuff monster steak down Ceres' gullet, she'll transform, and the game will presumably come to a horrific end.
Eating ordinary, run-of-the-mill monster flesh will alleviate the curse temporarily, but the only way to cure it for good is for Ceres to devour the flesh of every boss in the game. That's at least 12 meals of the stuff - after all that, someone's going to have a serious hankering for red meat. Although it's a bit weird for vegetarianism to feature as a plot point, it's always nice to see originality in a JRPG.
But back to that Orichalcum Chain. It has other uses too, notably puzzle-solving. We're guessing it will function a bit like Link's hookshot, propelling Ende to distant areas, as well as pulling stuff that lies tantalisingly out of reach. He can apparently swing around like a monkey, grab enemies and flick switches too. Sounds pretty nifty - do they sell these Orichalcum Chains in Argos?
NO CHAIN, NO GAIN
In combat - which, if you'll excuse the pun, appears to be the meat2 of the game - the chain can also be used in combination with your sword. For example, you can restrain an enemy before finishing it off with your blade, or tie it up while you deal with another, more pressing threat first. It all sounds pleasantly violent - a far cry from the 'hit Slimes then run away' approach of many role-playing games.
But there are other references here: the chain-focused combat sounds eerily reminiscent of meaty Other Formats action-adventure title God Of War. Whether it will play anything like it remains to be seen.
The presence of a timer suggests this role-playing title will lean heavily towards the 'action' side of things, but the retail listing has it pegged as an 'exploration-style action RPG'. In any case, we'll know more very soon - by the time you read this the game will have come out in Japan.
A UK release is still undecided, but with Xenoblade finally on its way anything's possible...