Life has been much easier since the Elebits were discovered, centuries ago. The cute and slightly creepy little guys provide power and friendship to humanity, never asking for much, apparently happy just to be of service. But what would happen if, one mysterious and stormy night, they disappeared? How would we survive a world without lights, TV, and internet? The thought is almost too terrible to bear.
It's bound to happen eventually, though, and that's how Elebits begins. All the elebits in town have gone missing and only a plucky 10-year-old boy armed with his dad's capture gun can get them back. He may not like the little electric sprites very much due to his parents seeming to be more interested in them than him, but finding them beats hanging around alone in the dark. And so young Kai sets out to figure out what on earth just happened, starting off in his house and eventually turning the entire town upside down (sometimes literally) in his quest to get the lights back on. It's a cute story that would have been much better if only the voice acting wasn't so incredibly, ear-meltingly awful. As lovely as the paintings used in the cut-scenes are, it's hard to appreciate them when your ears are bleeding.
How would we survive a world without lights, TV, and internet? The thought is almost too terrible to bear.
Fortunately, the visually lovely but aurally painful story sequences are short and infrequent, and 99% of the time is spent ripping apart levels looking for the elebits. Played as a cross between a first-person shooter and hide and seek, Elebits really shows off how accurate the Wii remote can be. While the nunchuk is used for movement, the remote aims the capture gun and controls all the action on screen. Whether it's zapping the elebits or picking up boxes, furniture, and even trucks and houses, the capture gun does it all. Elebits could be inside or behind anything, so it's necessary to pick up, shake, and fling everything in the game to find as many of them as possible. Certain items have simple puzzles associated with them as well, and solving them will yield a good-sized pile of the little guys to capture in a bout of rapid-fire zapping. Throwing a basketball through a hoop, lining up books on a shelf, or putting the seats back on a carnival ride can throw out dozens of elebits at once. While the physics of moving items can be a bit dodgy, the aim provided by the Wii remote is precise enough to nail a grapefruit-sized creature from a hundred feet away, assuming you've got a steady enough hand to make the shot.
There are several species of elebits hiding out in the world, but they can be divided into three basic types. The most common variety adds watts to the meter on the right side of the screen, and each timed level needs a certain amount to clear it. Getting watts also powers up various electric items throughout the stage, and activating them yields the second kind of elebit. Capturing the second type powers up the gun, allowing it to lift heavier items, which in turn hide more Elebits, which power up the gun further to activate newer and more powerful machinery, etc. It's an enjoyable cycle of constant upgrading; fun and oddly relaxing. While it's certainly possible to fail a level by not getting enough watts or being knocked out by one of the few threats (like the last kind of elebit, which has spikes and can't be captured), the pressure never really gets to the point of sweaty palms and bulging vein on the forehead.
This is mostly because the action is taken at your own pace. Sure, the clock is always ticking to level's end and there's a goal to reach before then, but the only thing failure means is another try armed with a better idea of the area's layout. The bulk of the levels clock in at 10 to 15 minutes, so it's hardly a huge time investment if things go wrong. Elebits is also as difficult as you want it to be. Anyone can get through the game with a bit of practice but there's a wealth of content for those looking for a greater challenge. Getting an S rank is just the start, as there are also three special pink elebits in each level that, when captured, open up a challenge mode that will take some very fast and accurate zapping to complete. There are 25 levels to play through (plus four boss fights), meaning 25 challenges to both earn and complete for the obsessive-compulsive ninja gamer.
If that's not enough content then you can make your own with the Edit Mode, and even trade your levels with friends. It would have been nice if Konami had provided a web site where users could upload and rate them, though. It's like the lessons taught by games from Doom to Trackmania and beyond have fallen on deaf ears.
Despite a few oversights, there's a lot to like about Elebits. While a few issues bog it down there are no major deal-breakers in there, and it can get surprisingly addictive once you start aiming to max out the score. Though Elebits never becomes mind-blowingly fun, it still provides a pleasant, low-key round of enjoyable gaming that's great for unwinding with at the end of the day.