Kameo: Elements of Power Xbox 360 Review

I want to start right off the bat to announce that Rare is back to top notch form. No more Grabbed by the Ghoulies disappointments (even though I did find enjoyment with Ghoulies at time) or Star Fox Adventures’ deadening storyline. Rare has emerged from its long hibernation and delivered an excellent game that is a brand new IP (Intellectual Property). Kameo not only serves the players excitement but the quality of this title promises that Rare will keep stepping it up with each and every game.

Kameo is sort of the standard bad guy versus good guy story but happens to be much more involving than anything offered currently at launch. Your sister has turned her back on the family and has released the evil Thorn, dictator for the malign trolls, to team up with her to take over the castle. Right from the beginning Kameo is robbed of her magical transformation skills that her sister is envious of. Kameo’s adventure begins right after that and is out to reclaim all the elemental warriors to battle her sister and Thorn.

It isn’t your standard action game either. There are puzzles to solve and figure out with each individual warrior. The elemental warriors are the biggest draw to Kameo. Rare originally promised over 60 warriors at one time but that dwindled down to 20 odd some warriors. Rare finally committed to only 10 warriors to prioritise on their abilities. The 10 warriors they selected are diverse and each has their own unique personality.

From the very beginning you’ll be sent to gain Pummel Weed back from the Shadow Trolls. The Shadow Trolls are spirits that the element warriors inhabited after they were sent back to the spirit world. When you regain the characters back, at first they seem to look like small innocent creatures but once you absorb them into Kameo, look out, vicious monsters they are (Yoda talk). Pummel Weed looks harmless sure but once he grows, immediately he’s out to knock someone’s lights out with his boxing glove hands.

One after another, you’ll recover your warriors in no time. The game effortlessly kept me entertained and never once had a dry spell. Within the first hour and a half (two if you take your time) you should have three warriors for your own personal use. Each warrior has their own unique ability to help you solve puzzles and travel around the worlds in a fast time. Ash, the crimson dragon, can unleash three fireballs into a direction to ignite lanterns in the distance to open up doors. With Rubble, he can fire rocks into a statue’s mouth to free up creatures that are trapped underneath the statue.

You can assign up to three warriors to your face buttons for hotkeys. At the tap of the button, you can morph without any hesitation to perform combos to increase your score for the levels. You are graded by your performance within each level and can gain achievements for your GamerScore online but I will cover that later in the review. You have three attacks to your use for each monster (Kameo is also useable for combat too); one is assigned to the Left Trigger and one to the Right Trigger. If you press both Left & Right Trigger at the same time, you’ll perform their special which uses their blue spirit bar.

With the blue spirit bar, you can upgrade it to have more for your attacks. Upgrading is easily as you have to find fruit scattered throughout the levels and gained from sub-quests. You don’t necessarily have to upgrade your power bar as you can use the fruit to upgrade for new attacks for your warriors. Kameo’s health bar too can be upgraded by drinking elixirs.

The sheer size of some levels are at least three times bigger than some of the levels currently on the Xbox. They can not be done on this generation. If you are wondering about the load times…short and brief. You won’t be waiting around playing with your thumbs counting down the time. The game actually allows you to play again. The maps are visible on the screen at the bottom right hand corner. You can easily toggle the map on and off by tapping the Left Thumbstick in.

The Badlands are an excellent example of how the Xbox 360 is the next advancement in graphics. When you first enter the badlands early on, you’ll encounter thousands of trolls ready to storm the castle. What better than to jump on horseback for the first time and blaze through hundreds on top of hundreds going down the hill. After you head down the hill you might as well turn around and head back up the slope since there will be hundreds more just around the bend waiting for you to fight. The onscreen character count is phenomenal and Rare put some effort to using the 360 power to impress at the launch.

The graphics just in general are outstanding. The character art itself stands out alone as an incredible achievement. The environments are to die for, especially the Badlands. The grass waves with the wind and you can see each individual blade of grass moving. The water is excellently displaced as you step in and creates waves when objects are thrown into the water. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to play it on a HDTV since, well, HDTVs are dang expensive. What I have heard from my colleagues is that the HDTV makes a huge difference. I can see at times where it would help since the character faces are small and smushed in the dialogue boxes. That would obviously be fixed on an HDTV.

You’ll also notice that Kameo is still visible within every single warrior. It helps show that Kameo is in control of herself and the warrior. Switching between the warriors is attached with an effect that is pure white as the new warrior you selected comes into the screen. There was only a few times when I thought the graphics were somewhat unsatisfying. When using Deep Blue, heading underwater just makes the screen a sea blue colour and takes away from the beautiful visuals Kameo usually displays.

Rare put together an excellent musical score for Kameo. It only enhances the moments and makes it that much more exciting. Voice acting is above anything else heard on the 360. Every separate character is eccentric and vibes with quality. A few times I did become bored with Kameo’s voice but it was nothing drastic to propel me away from playing the game.

You’ll be back more than once to play Kameo too. Improving your score for each level will be a must since Rare is saying there will be benefits for players with the high scores online. On Xbox Live there are 26 individual achievements to win for your gamer card totaling up to 1,000 points for your GamerScore. Disappointing though is the fact that it only lasts for about ten to thirteen hours. You can increase the total hours you play by seeking out all the side quests to finish.

The co-operative mode isn’t astonishly fine. If you have a small screen, I advise you not to play co-op. Too much is happening on the screen at one time to play the co-op. The moves you can perform are taken off the HUD and if your co-op partner is new to the game, they won’t have any idea what to do when it comes to actions. You won’t be playing the puzzle parts of the adventure either, just the action and it will be split into sections as you’ll warp into a new area. The co-op obviously wasn’t a major focus and was a last minute addition. It’s at least available and something to work towards improving next time.

If you find Kameo too hard (I don’t think too many will), just press the start button and ask for advice from your Wotnot book. Through the Wotnot book you also are able to upgrade your warriors, check your objectives and such. The advice is simple and straight to the point. If the advice doesn’t help, there are at times hints scattered throughout the levels with signs and NPCs there to aide you.

Here’s the equation for Kameo if I had to compare it to other titles.

The Legend of Zelda grand adventure
+
Beyond Good & Evil amazing artwork and characters
+
Monster Rancher in general.

Kameo is an all around feel good game. It has charming characters, humor in all different sizes, graphics that can impress at any moment, and co-op thrown into the mix for good measure. Riding a horseback hasn’t felt this great since days of the N64 when Zelda dominated. Rare definitely didn’t let me down with Kameo.

Rare is back and if you can’t admit it, you must have a grudge. Sure this isn’t Zelda, but I am glad it isn’t since it’s a brand new experience that will see the daylight in comic books and movies. Yup, if you didn’t know, there will be a Kameo animated movie and comic books in the future. Now let’s just hope a sequel is already in the works since this game delivered a pleasurable twelve hours of play.

9 out of 10
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