Opoona Wii Review
Opoona, with its random battles, item collecting and levelling up business, is unmistakeably an RPG, but to just call it so would be an injustice. Much of Opoona’s earlier stages have an heavy emphasis on exploration and mini games, that and the fact that there’s not one spike of hair in sight and in lead character Opoona’s case, there’s actually not even a single hair to be found on that head of his.
Being an RPG, there’s a story to be told too. The premise has the titular Opoona’s ship coming under a spot of bother and resulting in him and his two siblings, Copoona and Poleena, ending up on an unfamiliar planet, whilst Mummy and Daddy are badly wounded, leaving it up to their children to gather enough resources to save their lives. It’s a simple narrative that chugs along at a slow pace, nothing much happens and it doesn’t really get going until the games latter moments, of which is when a more typical save the world aspect comes into play. The story isn’t completely without its charm, but is largely weak and certainly not helped by its horrific translation work, which is peppered with errors and blandness, there’s also a bizarre absence of voice-acting, which surely could have given the characters an extra layer of charisma.
To be able to save his parents, Opoona must fulfil his quota on the planet of Landroll, through traditional RPG aspects and some mini-games. The mini-games are simple in nature and aren’t wildly enjoyable to play, but do serve as a serviceable enough activity and a welcome contrast to the more traditional RPG facets.
Much of the earlier chunks of Opoona have you wandering around domes, chatting with people and obtaining licences and new jobs. All of which consists of lots of backtracking, which could be jarring to those that want to be continually taken to new areas in their epic quests. Though at least such people can seek out secret codes (of which is one of three means of buying things) hidden around each area.
When you do head out into dungeons and such, you’ll of course be searching for items and fighting monsters. Enemy encounters in Opoona are random and on occasion there’s quite a volume of them to contend with, though most battles are so short and snappy that they never really become too much of a nuisance. The combat system itself has you using the Bonbons (thinking of them as just simple balls will do) of Opoona and company, by holding the Nunchuk stick in any of four directions, then pushing it in the opposite direction. The direction you push the stick will determine the flight path of the bonbon. By holding the stick in any direction, you can also increase the clout of the impending hit. It’s all very simple, but results in enjoyable, if largely effortless encounters. There’s all the usual magical abilities too, but fights are usually so easy and a bit too chaotic, that many will just stick to bonbon whacks to overcome most of their enemies.
Bonbons can be upgraded with items purchased and of course found lying around (these RPG people are a messy lot) and by beating enemies. Such items allow you to attach status altering properties, amongst other useful upgrades to the weapons of your crew, this is really about as complex as Opoona gets. There are no weapons and armour to equip, there’s no complicated character growth system, it’s quite simply as simple as RPG’s get and depending on who you are this is either going to be a very good or a very bad thing.
If you do happen to die in Opoona, it’s not quite the disaster it is in a lot of other games. Much like Dragon Quest, you’ll be taken back to the closest town, with all gained experience and money still intact. There’s pocket-taxis too, a rather handy item which will more often than not, take you within close proximity of the dungeon that left you badly bruised for another try. The dungeons themselves are largely relatively small too, which means you’ll rarely have a long trek ahead of you to get back to the place where you became a cropper.
The game is notable in the fact that the developer ArtePiazza have made no effort to make use of the Wii remotes capabilities, so of course it could quite happily function on a regular controller, and indeed the classic controller is compatible with the game. It’s also notable for the fact that it’s the only Wii game that can be solely played with the Nunchuk (it obviously still needs to be connected to the remote) and it does work adequately when played in such a way and what’s more, it’s accessible to people with certain disabilities, which is a rarity for a game.
The visuals are somewhat basic, but it all looks rather charming with simple cel-shaded character designs that could have quite easily been dreamt up by your average five year old, whilst the environments are well crafted, making Opoona’s world a satisfying place to be transported to. Hitoshi Sakimoto’s musical score is also a treat and offers a nice level of variety, even if pieces do have a tendency to loop too often.
Opoona has some nasty flaws, such as its average story, awful translation effort and the fact that many an avid RPG fan, will find it lacking the complexities that they crave, whilst a lot of Wii users will be disappointed at the bizarre absence of any form of motion control. But alongside its flaws, Opoona also has much in the way of highlights. resulting in a very enjoyable game that doesn’t quite do enough to be anything truly amazing.