Secret Files: Tunguska Wii Review
Unless you are a PC gamer, you won’t have seen many point and click adventures lately. It seems developers don’t want to give the genre a chance on your shiny “next-gen” consoles and HDTV screens. So while the consoles stand bare, the PC gets a few gems from time to time.
The Nintendo Wii seems to be slowly opening a doorway for developers to get some point and click games onto the console market. The Wii remote’s ability to be able to control the interface just like a mouse is sparking interest. Even publisher Deep Silver, the guys who are bringing the Wii port of the PC game Secret Files: Tunguska, say that the systems on the market need more adventure games, so the reasons for the port were to “Explore the control methods of the Wii and secondly because we feel the platforms deserve this kind of game.” Guess that means more on the way if Secret Files: Tunguska does well.
Tunguska might not be a name you are well known with unless you watch X-Files or read up on unexplained phenomenon. As it features in the game’s title, there’s a lot in the game that is related to the Tunguska event, or explosion would be a better way to put it. In 1908 a massive blast happened near the Tunguska river and to this day it still not known what created the discharge that knocked over 80 million trees. Man that’s a lot of trees.
The story of Secret Files: Tunguska centres around the main character, Nina Kalenkov, a Russian girl that has moved to Berlin. On visiting her father at the museum, she finds his office ransacked and “Daddy” nowhere to be seen. The poor girl is distraught and contacting the police is of little help. In typical adventure fashion she goes on her own journey to try hunt down her missing father. This will take you around the world as you try to solve the mystery of your vanishing father and the secrets of the Tunguska project.
Most people are going to be interested in how this controls. It is a game that is highly based on using mouse controls on a PC machine. It’s also the first PORT of an adventure game on the system (Zack and Wiki being made fresh up for the Wii). So what have the developers Keen Games done with the port? Well to get the disappointing things out of the way first, there are no new puzzles added to the game or old puzzles that have taken advantage of the remote’s uniqueness. That means no twisting, shaking, spinning or using the Wii remote as anything else other than a pointer. Damn! On the positive side of things the controls work really well.
The Wii remote is used just like an arrow to click on things around the screen. Clicking on a space will make the character move there. The A button functions as the pick/action command, while B is used to tell you information about the thing you are examining. It feels like you are just playing with a mouse in your hand, it is smoothly integrated and has no problems at all. The game also allows you to attach the nunchuk, so the character can be moved with the analogue stick, but just using the remote by itself is not a setback.
The original game on the PC had an appealing feature that when activated would highlight all the points of interest that can be investigated. This is still included on the Wii, but rather than clicking on a magnifying glass to initialize it, you just hold down the 2 button on the remote and the magnifying glasses will appear on the screen. It might not sound it but it really helps a lot. I’m one of these people that get annoyed as hell when I get stuck in a game like this. When you just can’t seem to find that item and you end up going around clicking on everything possible, and then 30 minutes later you finally found what you were looking for, it makes me want to rip my hair out, ARGH! This feature is highly appreciated and no doubt will be a godsend for new comers who haven’t played the genre before.
Even with the innovative system mentioned above, Secret Files: Tunguska still suffers from the same old point and click fiascos. As the story progresses you move to different locations, which will have a few rooms accessible for you to explore. This is where the problem lies. To clear something that in normal life would probably take you a couple of minutes, you’ll be spending ten times the time or more in the game. It’s always been a trademark of the genre, but with so little exploration done in the areas, it limits what can be done. Rather than getting straight to the point, you have to do other things, which do other things, then do this and then that. It sometimes feels like it is been dragged out. This wouldn’t seem so bad if there were more locations to visit in the towns you explore, just to add more variety to the game, making it get rid of that limited enclosure feeling.
Another main function is the inventory. It is easily accessible to players by clicking down on the d-pad on the remote. The inventory will be used frequently as it is your means to examine objects you have picked up and also to combine items together. There’s no doubt you’ll be pulling faces when you see some of the stuff you have to combine together. Some of them seem strange and random as hell. An early one is gluing a rubber glove to a bike tire to cover the puncture, strange eh? No doubt somewhere in the game you will find yourself mixing every combination of item in your inventory to get the solution to a puzzle because it is not too obvious. Thank goodness that the controls make it quick and easy, it would have been a nightmare having to slowly combine all the items you pick up.
It’s a shame that they didn’t change the puzzles to use some great Wii remote action, some of the puzzles are just asking for it. The game at least still has everything that the PC version has. The graphics obviously aren’t as high res as the PC counterpart, so while the backgrounds are nicely pre-rendered, the models themselves are a bit on the jaggy side of things; not as nice looking as something you’d see from a game that was built from the ground up for the Wii. This is basically a PC game running on lower settings.
However that doesn’t mean anything else has suffered because of the translation. The audio is still all there – there’s plenty of voice work to listen to as every item that is examinable will have some caption that is voiced over to go with it. I must say though that some of the voice work isn’t particularly great, the main character Nina has an annoying way of speaking, such as constantly referring to her dad as “Daddy”. It’s hard to really say what I mean about her without actually listening to it. I guess you could say that she’s an intelligent woman, but the voice just doesn’t seem to go with what you’d expect of her. She does supply some good jokes though, so let’s not be too hard on the girl. The other main characters are ok but sometimes lack emotion. One example is when a scientist is running off to the toilet for an instant bowl moment, he didn’t seem like he was in that dire a need, since he sounded so monotone.
When it comes down to it, you aren’t going to get that much of a selection of adventure games at this moment in time on the Wii. There’s Zack and Wiki, but if you’ve played the hell out of that then there’s nothing else. Secret Files: Tunguska is a more serious and story driven game than Capcom’s outing. Much of the story is kept until the end, with the rest mostly speculation from characters as to what is really going on, forcing you to play through to get more dirt on the mystery as it builds up. If you have an interest in the genre then you might what to stick your head into the world of Secret Files. It’s a solid adventure game, but that’s all it is.