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a good enough game with a really likable main cast of characters that unfortunately doesnt utilize its cast all too well in its most important segments. id go into more detail but i, just dont like writing nevative reviews so uhhhh, i like trucy a lot!
the early days of basically any console ever are very experimental, with most launch titles being more or less tech demos for whatever the hardware was, and i dont think ive seen any more experimental launch era than the wii. with the gamecube apparently not being that much of a success, itd take a little more than just familiar titles to draw an audience, and the motion control gimmick opened the floodgates for a ton of games that practically assumed kids would flock to them for the controls alone. i remember for a LONG time my parents would start up a game like smash bros and immediately point the control at the screen and be disappointed that it didnt work because the wii had basically been known as the "motion controls console". nowadays, the wii has become kinda infamous for just how much "shovelware" made it on, games that thought that just being able to point at the screen and move things was enough, and they were never gonna compete with the aaa backed games that barely even used motion controls at all like smash bros or mario galaxy. but i think i realized that all these gimmicky shovelware games werent trying specifically to be like mario galaxy or anything like that, but they were trying to be one game maybe without knowing it: elebits.
elebits was a launch title for the wii, and id says that it's the quintessential wii launch title in a lot of ways. it's a light gun shooter, and while home console light gun shooters had been done before, there was some novelty in just being able to play one with a small all-purpose controller rather than needing an entire peripheral for it. more than that however, it was a physics based light gun shooter, one focused on flicking your wrist around to move objects and THEN point at ai with your controller. it's very much the kind of game youd give to a 10 year old to show them what a motion controlled console is capable of, just putting the player in a big sandbox and letting them manipulate everything with a little pointer.
if there's any game this game reminds me of, it's katamari, but not just because of its similar progression style of starting out moving small objects around before progressing to bigger ones, or its adorable creature designs, or even its fanastic soundtrack. no, what really gives it that katamari vibe to me is how simultaneously serene and DESTRUCTIVE this game is. the entire game is just you flinging junk, light posts, trees, and even entire buildings around and yet it never ends up feeling like anything you do is with malicious intent because you're rarely punished for just making a huge mess. there are levels where you arent allowed to break anything or make too much noise, and there are unique enemies that spawn in high concentrations of junk, but things will still be strung around cattywompus because thats just the goal of the game, to move around stuff and find more elebits, not to act orderly. moreover, it's CATHARTIC to be able to lift entire cars or homes to zap up more elebits scurrying underneath. a lot of players have an innate desire to live out a power fantasy of destruction, especially among younger players, and elebits being an entire sandbox with an end goal makes tearing apart the town addicting since there's an added layer of going on a scavenger hunt instead of just destruction for the sake of it. heck, the very first level involves making a mess out of a young boys bedroom, something young children are trained not to do, and yet the game encourages the player to do so without guilt.
also the sound design! it's just an AORABLE and cozy little game, with a really nice soundtrack accompanied by the wails and squeaks of elebits. just hearing an elbit go "burmy!" as i zapped it was a little reward of its own.
all in all, elebits is the kind of game that reminds me of the charm of low stakes games intended for younger audiences. elebits is a wonky game sure, and it isnt very long, but it isnt really the kind of game to be dissected critically among other video games. its just, a really sweet little game that makes me happy, and i cant really ask for more than that.
i love just, so much about this game. i havent played any of the original punch-out games before this one, and i got into it late in 2014, but i remember just being immediately drawn in by its pure arcadey and cartoonish energy. like, this is is just through and through a perfect revival of the retro arcade boss battle experience, not especially long, but more than made up for by how much joy i feel going up against a colorful cast of bosses and committing all of their moves to muscle memory. the contender path took only about 45 minutes at most, but the difficulty spike at the second half of the game felt like a much needed difficulty spike, with the player having to change up their strategy to deal with faster, more versatile versions of characters theyve fought before. with how hard this game gets in its last couple fights, it makes sense for it to be this short since i feel like too much more would just burn the average player out. in terms of gameplay, its just a really sweet and succinct package.
that being said, ive started thinking about the future (or lack thereof) of this franchise. it's had 4 games total, 3 of which were on console, and no games in 13 years as of writing this review. you would think that it would be simple to pump out a title for each console, but i feel like maybe there really wasnt that much steam to the franchise past the snes era. the wii was a perfect little excuse for a new reimagining with motion controls, but im not sure if nintendo would allow a "true" punch-out game to happen on a new console. the closest we got was Arms, but im not sure if id count it since it focused a lot more on movement and being a competitive fighter. even putting aside the abundance of racial stereotypes that i doubt would fly today, im just not sure that an ip based around this particular type of arcadey gameplay focused mainly on just dodging and ducking would get another shot, at least from nintendo. i dont think this is epitomized more than in this game's ending, showing a very brief cutscene quickly stating that mac doesnt have the energy for more than just a few extra fights. this game just is exactly that, an excuse for little mac to get back into the ring only to retire again and fade into obscurity.
i do wonder if the indie scene will ever give the format another shot since pure boss battlers made a brief comeback with cuphead and furi, and the style is distinct enough from typical fighters to potentially get a bit of attention. it's not a lost cause for the punch-out spirit to come back in some way, and im willing to wait to see what happens next with the series' legacy.