Consumption of the rather appetising sounding “beast flesh” is the order of the day in Pandora’s Tower.
At least that's the fate facing Elena, a cursed girl who will turn into a monstrous fiend if hero, Aeron, isn’t able to harvest enough of the sinuous looking meat for her by slaying said beasts.
Central to his quest are the twelve towers known as Pandora’s Tower, constructs of stone and chain magically secured over a chasm known as the “Scar”, a tear through the world only kept in check by the presence of the towers.
With such a plot device in place it’s perhaps hardly worth mentioning that this is a Japanese role-playing game and, like many J-RPGs before it, expect much posturing and emotion from its characters, and weird and wonderful sights from its world – of which the vista of a young girl consuming raw, dripping, pulsating hearts on regular occasions is but one.
Key to her ultimate survival is “Master” flesh, the meat of the guardians which dwell amongst the towers. Getting to them forms the game’s bulk, as our hero explores the labyrinth that is the towers’ depths and heights in order to confront the walking leviathans.
The twist is that you’ll be battling said Masters against the clock, for at the bottom left of the screen dwells a timer which represents how close Elena is to mutating into the rather fetching tentacle-laden freak her body seems hell bent on transforming into.
Leave it too long without returning to her with flesh and it’s game over, leave her in the pangs of monstrousness for too long and she’ll stop talking to you – your hard efforts meaning you might save her, but you’ll fail to win her heart. It would seem being a hero is something of a thankless task these days.
To aid Aeron is his hook chain, a tool not unlike the hookshot so effectively used by Link in The Legend of Zelda. With this he can chain foes up, tear chunks from them, reach high up ledges and even grab items which would normally be inaccessible. That it’s aiming via the Wiimote is a nice touch, as is the magnified view it casts as you look to make that perfect shot.
An early stage for example features a sentient plant which burrows into the ground on the approach of a potential hostile. By chaining said plant to a nearby object however the plant can flee no more, so allowing its destruction and so opening up a whole new portion of the tower.
For those looking for one last RPG of note to play on Wii then Pandora’s Tower, with its pressure cooker approach and deftly put together puzzles is well worth considering. Be aware however that, as with all Wii games nowadays, those visuals are beginning to look markedly dog-eared.
Not a game breaker by any means, but in conjunction with a clunky equipment interface and far from streamlined combat system, it’s yet another detraction in what is, at its heart, a rather novel experience.