Secret Files: Tunguska Wii, DS Review

May 29, 2010 by Simon Wigham  
Filed under Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, Reviews

PC point-and-click adventures have been previously ported over to consoles, though they were never really suited to the controllers and were clunky in comparison to the keyboard and mouse control scheme of the PC. That was, of course, until the age of the magical Wii remote, of which, with its pointer function, has plenty in common with a mouse, thus is obviously well suited to the genre. Secret Files: Tunguska is the first of such a port and proof that the remote is very much up to the job of pointing and clicking.

Adventure games live or die based on the quality of their narratives, so it’s a good thing that Tunguska’s is a relatively good yarn, that is plagued by voice acting that ranges from average to awful, but still manages to be intriguing and one of the primary driving forces behind advancement through the game.

Tunguska follows the story of the not at all grubby motorbike mechanic, Nina Kalenkov, who is searching for her missing father, who disappeared whilst investigating (the real life) 1908 Tunguska explosion, which was the largest recorded explosion in history and about 1000 times as powerful as an atomic bomb. Despite her Berlin upbringing, Nina sounds as American as could be and worse still this extends to all the other non American characters too. None of this cast are as likeable as say Dreamfall’s Zoe and April, or Lucas and Carla of Fahrenheit fame, but they’re hardly detestable either.

To play, you basically wander around lovely prerenderd backdrops, each of which are small in size but usually possesses a large puzzle, of which must be solved before both the story can advance and you can move on to the next lovingly detailed area. The controls are wonderful and simplistic just as they should be. Clicking on items of importance will either command Nina to pick them up or trigger her thoughts on them, which typically for the genre can often be amusing, this makes even the inspection of the most utterly useless items somewhat fun.

The puzzles are a bit inconsistent in their quality and trickiness, some of them are as clear as a particularly nice summers day, but others are as obscure as existence itself, some are clever, whilst others are generic. On occasion because of the many items Nina carries around on her travels, which often can be combined with others to make a new item, it can be tricky and a bit of an exercise in trial and error. People with more experience (I’m more of a console gamer you see) with the genre may find it to be less taxing.

Some of the smaller key items can be difficult to spot in each area, which can all too often leave you well and truly stuck, that’s unless you use the handy clue highlight feature, which will display all of the areas items and objects of interest on the screen. It does feel like a bit of a cheap way to make progress and even if you don’t want to, for many, the temptation is always there to use it and there’s no option to turn it off either to stop those damn wandering fingers.

A more experienced adventurer may be less tolerable to the flaws than this rookie point and clicker. But as far as consoles go, Secret Files: Tunguska is a fine addition to the genre and one that the more cerebral minded gamer is likely to enjoy.

8/10

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