XSEED recently announced it will publish Pandora’s Tower in North America by Spring of 2013. The game’s confirmed US release marks the arrival of a long awaited trilogy of Wii RPGs, for which fans have been campaigning to bring to the system for months, even years.
The first game from the trilogy, Xenoblade Chronicles, hit North America April 6, 2012. Published by Nintendo through a partnership with GameStop, the latter was the only brick and mortar retailer to stock the game (besides the NYC Nintendo Store, or course). Amazon, however, sold the game online. It went on to moderate success.
Next came The Last Story, which was published by XSEED on August 14 the same year. It became XSEED’s most profitable game of all time. This was thanks mostly to the astronomical Amazon pre-orders, which earned early adopters a collector’s edition of the game.
Last to launch in the trifecta is Pandora’s Tower. There’s no concrete release date or price (save for a GameStop listing), and no any inkling of a collector’s edition. It will be the only title of the trilogy to launch in the states following the Wii U’s launch. The move may seem a bit risky for XSEED, but seeing how well Last Story performed — as well as the dearth of quality, original IPs for the Wii U — the niche publisher may end up more than mere goodwill brimming in its war chest.
Internationally, the game has garnered mixed — though mostly positive — reviews from critics. Yet, all seem to struggle when trying to fit the game neatly into a pre-defined genre. Pandora’s Tower has been called a JRPG, an ARPG, a RPGINO (RPG-In-Name-Only), pure action game, and — our favorite — “a combo of Castlevania, Rygar, Zelda, and ICO.”
There is no consensus of classification when it comes to Pandora’s Tower, likely because it is so unique. There’s not another single game like it on the system. And seeing as the Wii has reached the end of the line, there never will be. Thus, the game may very likely go down as the cult-classic swan song for Nintendo’s little console that could. Here’s why we think it deserves to.
The Oreichalkos Chain is main character Ende’s base tool. He’ll use it to attack, grapple walls, and wrap-up and stun enemies. While the Wii has earned a stigma of sorts for the predilection of games to implement waggle controls under the guise of Wii Remote support, Pandora’s Tower is a game that actually makes good use of the controller’s unique capabilities. While waggle attacks are still present, they make up only a part of the game’s motion-support. The main benefit of using the Wii Remote / Nunchuck combo is the ability to aim attacks by pointing the controller at the TV. An on-screen reticule will float wherever you aim, and can be zoomed in upon to issue attacks with precision. Doing this with the Classic Controller is less than ideal, making Pandora’s Tower one of the rare occasions when traditional controls are not the optimal way of playing (i.e., Xenoblade Chronicles).
The Oreichalkos Chain may be Ende’s go-to gadget, but he can do a whole lot more than whip his chain back and forth. The combat system allows for players to adopt a variety of play styles, whether opting for defense and patience or evasion and speed. Enemies quickly ramp up in difficulty as Ende progresses to new towers, and there are a slew of boss fights that demand use of the game’s unique battle mechanics. While Xenoblade and Last Story both do away with turn-based battles for real-time control, neither truly achieve the kind of action-heavy, fast-paced combat system found in Pandora’s Tower, making it more akin to 3D Zelda adventures — at least combat-wise — than both Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story.
While not known widely in the west, developer Ganbarion has a good history with the Big N. Mainly, they are responsible for creating the best 2D fighter to ever hit a Nintendo handheld — Jump Ultimate Stars, as well as its predecessor Jump Super Stars. The games have a spot-on battle system that blends Smash Bros. style mayhem into a tiny 2D space, with tight controls and a wide array of attacks for each character. It comes as no surprise, then, that Pandora’s Tower is the most action-heavy title of the Wii’s farewell trilogy of RPGs.
Quirkiness can go a long way in garnering a cult following for a game, and Pandora’s Tower has got it in spades. The story revolves around Ende’s quest to cure his lover of a cursed disease. The only remedy is the flesh of evil beasts (yum!), which Ende must collect from 13 towers. Thing is, she needs her gruesome doses of evil meat stat. Taking a cue from Majora’s Mask, Ende is in a continual race against time, and will fail if he takes too long to harvest and deliver the next round of medicine. Oh, and there’s a chuckling demon who lives in a back pack, too.
Since each segment must be completed within a set period of time, Ende will frequently fail and be forced to attempt towers again and again. The enemies themselves pack quite a punch, but it is the various boss fights that will likely give Ende the most greif. These big baddies don’t take kindly to having their hides turned into medice, and as such put up quite a fight. Add to this some action-oriented gameplay that demands a balance of speed and precision, and you’ve got a recipe for a seriously steep challenge.
So, are you excited for the long-awaited release of Pandora’s Tower in the US? Or is this too little, too late? Let us know in the comment field at the bottom of the page.