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Review: Pandora's Tower

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Sometimes in life, the only way to nurture a relationship is with the power of meat.

Just when you thought that the Wii has sang its last song; the system breaks free from the chains that control its life. Formally known as the last piece of the Triforce in Operation Rainfall’s goal, Pandora’s Tower has achieved its link with North America! Despite the game being part of the group’s goal, I doubt that XSEED’s decision was affected by their actions, due to XSEED's amazing track record in localizing many great niche titles.

Interestingly enough, Pandora’s Tower is also one of Ganbarion’s first original titles, since they were mostly known for making the JUMP Stars fighting games and a couple games based off of One Piece – such as the Grand Battle games and the Unlimited series. With that introduction out of the way, let’s venture into the Thirteen Towers to save a young girl from a deadly curse.

Aeron really knows how to drag.

Pandora's Tower (Wii)
Developer: Ganbarion
Publisher: XSEED Games
Release Date: April 16, 2013
MSRP: $29.99 [Buy]

After being inflicted with a strange curse, our hero’s love interest Elena is slowly losing her humanity with each passing day. With the help of an old lady named Mavda, the main hero Aeron must venture into the Thirteen Towers to extract the flesh from the Masters that reside in the highest areas of each dungeon. Armed with the Oraclos Chains, Aeron is ready to obtain the tasty morsels that are needed to cure Elena’s curse. Too bad for Elena, she has to go against her principles as a vegetarian for the sake of recovery.

For an interesting premise, Pandora’s Tower starts off rather slow. While the game’s story has to do with Elena and Aeron’s relationship, I didn’t feel any sort of attachment to the game’s romance themes. It doesn’t help that Aeron isn't that expressive, since his personality gets in the way of the love story's great potential. Thankfully, the story has other great aspects, since part of Pandora’s Tower’s premise has to do with the mystery behind the Thirteen Towers and the strange curse that changes people into beasts. Overall, the plot outside of the romance was the real meat of the game’s storyline. Even though the bond between both characters starts off weak, things do pick up in the later part of the story, as you start to see some strange occurrences after the first half of the game.

Elena is very happy.

During your interactions with Elena, players can give her presents to make her happy, which includes items that can change her appearance – such as clothes or jewelry. Depending on your bond, you’ll be able to trigger different events between Elena and Aeron. I will admit that I found them annoying at first, but the exchanges between both characters manage to grow on me after things picked up in the story. As you’re exploring the Thirteen Towers, players have to worry about the state of Elena’s curse, so you’ll have to return to your base to feed her the flesh of regular enemies to keep her from changing. At first, the whole process can be a little tedious, but each area ensures that you can create some shortcuts to lessen the blow of traveling back and forth between locations. Since you’ll have the option to interact with Elena during quest, the motivation to move forward will grow with each passing hour.

While you’re working your way to get to each boss, Aeron is capable of using his chains to work his way through the floors of each Tower. The chain have some useful features that include throwing enemies and objects, binding things, and extracting flesh and items from the corpses of your slain foes. Other than combat, the same features with the chains will be used to solve the puzzles in each Tower. If you’re in the mood to get up close and personal, Aeron has access to some melee weapons that can be used to create combos with the A button. When enemies aren’t going down too quick, players will have the ability to do a charge attack to speed things up. However, the chains still play the bigger role, as they are the main weapon against the Masters that dwell in the Towers. Each Master has a core, and it is up to the players to use their wits to exploit each boss’s weakness. In a way, the battles are like a mix of Zelda and Shadow of the Colossus, due to the puzzle-like elements that players must go through to reach the cores.

Gotta keep dragging.

Since the chains play a big role in the game’s system, I found the Wiimote and Nunchuck to be the most effective controller, since it’s easier to aim the chains. While we’re still on the topic of controls, the Z button on the Nunchuck (Or the L or R buttons on the Classic Controller) will allow you to block or dodge attacks from you enemies, which is an important skill to master. Not only do you receive damage from enemy attacks; your items have a chance of breaking in the heat of battle. Despite the slight drawback from this system, the broken items can be repaired at Mavda’s place. While it sounds like a bit of a pain, Pandora’s Tower is a bit forgiving in regards to its checkpoints and death system. As long as you fail in a manner that doesn’t involve Elena changing into a hideous monstrosity, players will be sent back to the last area where a checkpoint was triggered. Before you label the game as being a cakewalk, you’ll actually be grateful for this feature when you realize how useful it is when a certain boss is giving you trouble.

With an intense scenario present in Pandora’s Tower, you would think that the game would have a phenomenal soundtrack to go with your adventures. Sadly, the music is very limited in the game, as the level themes for each Tower remains the same, which can get a little repetitive at times. There are even a few times when the stage themes go silent while you’re exploring the Towers. Besides the level themes, the battle themes have a bit of a Jaws vibe, due to the buildup that occurs with each verse. This actually works well with the tone of each fight, since it can inflict a bit of panic to players who are having trouble with certain enemies. Once you reach the boss, you’ll be welcomed by an intense orchestrated theme that has a glorious chanting that will make your spine tingle as you’re trying to figure out the weakness of each boss. This theme is perhaps one of the strongest in the game, and it really sets the mood for the fights against the Tower Masters. You’ll also encounter some soothing tunes when you’re relaxing at the observatory with Elena, which acts as a balance to the songs found in the Tower.

It's flesh grabbing time!

Pandora’s Tower may not be pushing the Wii’s limits in the graphics department, but the modeling and texturing found in the game still holds up. The architecture within each Tower goes well with the elemental themes, and the Tower Masters were given some creative designs. Perhaps the only downside is that a good number of the Towers are palette swaps of the previous ones, due to the recurring theme that’s shared between the Masters. While the room placements are different, the puzzles and basic structures are recycled in each swap. Despite the lazy development behind the later Towers, the bosses were at least given their own unique designs and patterns.

Despite the fun times that I had with saving Elena from her curse, the North American version of Pandora’s Tower is filled with a few glitches. Other than the freezing glitch that was reported a while back, the game kept freezing when I would select the 11th or 12th Tower from the observatory. Based on the way how the last two Towers work, the glitch might be associated with their design, since I never encountered this issue during my adventures in the previous Towers. At the moment, the closest remedy that I found was to wait a few second between each loading segment in the level select screen, which prevented the issue a good number of times. Luckily, the glitch doesn’t mess with the game’s date, so you won’t lose anything if this problem occurs – unless if you didn’t save beforehand.

The observatory is the key in this battle.

Putting that glitch aside, Pandora’s Tower is still a good adventure to overcome. You might have to deal with the slow pacing during the early stages of Aeron and Elena’s relationship, but the reward will come to those who put their time into strengthening the bonds. For a game that was developed by a company that worked on games based off of One Piece and Weekly JUMP, Pandora’s Tower is a fine piece as an original title by Ganbarion. The system with the Oraclos Chains plays out in the manner of how a chain should work, and puzzles still manage to give off a sense of accomplishment. As long as you have the patience to deal with the game’s early problems, you’ll be able to exit Pandora’s Tower with a big smile on your face after you achieve the true objective. With that being said, Pandora’s Towers still deserves the rightful title of being the final game to close off the Wii’s excellent lifespan. 

7 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)

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Pandora's Tower reviewed by Salvador G Rodiles

7

GOOD

Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.
How we score:  The Japanator reviews guide

 
 
 

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Salvador G Rodiles
Salvador G RodilesSenior Editor   gamer profile

Salvador's an average bystander who took his first steps towards a life-changing goal. During his journey, he's devising a way to balance his time with anime, manga, video games, and tokusatsu in... more + disclosures


 


 


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