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access_time June 21, 2021 at 12:33 AM in Features by David Poole

Bring it Back | Zack & Wiki

Hope everyone had a great Father’s Day, and welcome back to another Bring it Back Sunday! Last week, we called for a new Mario Strikers title, and we unfortunately didn’t hear anything from Nintendo’s E3 Direct. Regardless, we’re putting the spotlight on Capcom yet again for this week. We’ve covered several classic Capcom franchises, from Final Fight, to Power Stone, and even to Remember Me. This week, we’re giving the retrospective treatment to a classic Wii title that’s a true gem. Of course, we’re talking about Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure, the pirate themed puzzler with oodles of charm.

Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure was a labor of inspiration for the development. Director Eiichiro Sasaki, who worked on games like Power Stone and Resident Evil: Outbreak, wanted to make a point-and-click game like Hudson Soft’s Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom. With this idea, the developers began conceptualizing it before the announcement of the Wii. Development went fully underway in 2005 as puzzles were designed and the team adjusted in size. Thanks to the Wii’s innovative remote, it became the perfect fit for the gameplay of this new adventure. It did take some additional time to fine-tune the controls, but the Wii made it much more accessible.

Announced as Project Treasure Island Z, the game was officially unveiled at Gamer’s Day in 2007. Due to copyright with the novel, Treasure Island, the game name had to be changed. Settling on a title that was descriptive, the game finalized the name of Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure. Featuring colorful cel-shaded graphics, the game was made to be intended for all ages. The game would release in late 2007 as an exclusive Wii title, gaining critical acclaim. It was one of the earlier Wii titles to really explore the possibilities of motion controls.

Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure tells the story of a young boy named Zack who dreams to be a legendary pirate. He, along with his monkey pal Wiki, are members of a pirate crew known as the Sea Rabbits. After crashing on an island, the two discover a treasure unlike one any have seen: Barbaro’s skull. Barbaros offers the two a chance to claim his treasure as a reward for recovering the rest of his body. This starts a puzzling adventure of a lifetime as Zack & Wiki combat various monsters, explore ruins, and uncover glorious treasures.

Over the course of the game, Zack & Wiki will encounter Captain Rose. The character is sort of like Tron Bonne from Mega Man Legends, commanding an army of pirates that do anything she wishes. While starting out as a rival, she’ll also be a key character to the plot of the game. Without spoiling much, there’s plenty of twists and turns, with Wiki being the key to many secrets. It’s a fun story, and it really gives a sense of a swashbuckling adventure.

The gameplay is a point-and-click style where players would point the Wii Remote to where they want Zack to move. As they navigate each stage, there will be various objects to interact with. There will also be many dangerous hazards to come across. Players will have to utilize the magic of Wiki’s transformation to help out with many of the hazards. The main ability would be to transform creatures into tools by transforming Wiki into a bell and ringing it. Threatened by a centipede? Ring Wiki’s bell and turn it into a saw to solve a puzzle.

Many of the puzzles would involve using certain tools to perform various gestures. These gestures could be using a mallet to whack a mole, returning a fireball with a tennis racket, rocking a dragon to calm it, etc. Capcom even has their infamous crank in the game. There was over 80 of these gestures, and they really utilized the Wii well for the motion controls. Pioneering motion controls into mainstream gaming, this was the perfect platform for the game.

While Zack & Wiki was a single player game, it did have a multiplayer mode. With additional Wii Remotes, players could use the “guide cursor system” to help out the player controlling Zack. This included pointing to things on the screen and even drawing to create clues. Many games utilized a “helper” mode on the Wii, but Zack & Wiki was definitely one of the earlier titles to do so. As a game for all ages, this feature would make things easier for younger players. Even though the game targets younger players, that doesn’t mean there weren’t still dark moments. Despite the colorful aesthetic, the game would often find creative ways for portraying Zack’s demise.

Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure released back in 2007, but it was their only game. Zack and Captain Rose would only make one more appearance the following year with Camelot’s We Love Golf! In those games, the characters Leo and Marissa have unlockable costumes for Zack and Captain Rose respectively. Since then, however, there hasn’t been much reference to the game, which is unfortunate given the critical acclaim it had. With the point-and-click genre thriving these days, we think it’s about time to Bring it Back!

With the motion controls of the original, it would only make sense to release a remaster on the Nintendo Switch. Rework the controls and presentation, and you can easily make this a Switch classic. For handheld mode, it may even be a good idea to add touch screen controls. The original game was in standard definition, so the game could definitely use a facelift with high definition visuals. Capcom could easily release it as a download title with a budget price tag, and they can even release a demo to entice players. Of course, the true point of this article is to give these characters a future.

We hope to see a sequel to Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure. While the motion controls are important for the original game, perhaps a new game could be more open, allowing other platforms. The original game definitely leaves options for continuation, and we would love to see more of these charming characters. We don’t need state of the art graphics as long as it keeps things colorful and in a higher resolution. It seems that Eiichiro Sasaki might no longer be with Capcom after working on Resident Evil 6. If a new Zack & Wiki project were to ever happen, it would be great to have him back in the director’s chair.

These characters deserve more time in the spotlight, especially with the options available today. They shouldn’t be doomed to forever be remnants of the Wii. What do you think? Should Capcom revive the Zack & Wiki franchise for a new game? Let us know in the comments below! Also feel free to tune in next week for our next feature as we look at a classic Sega RPG.

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