It appears that the Wii has a new peripheral, and Link has a new weapon – how convenient! For a relatively low cost, players can transform their remote and nun chuck into the two handed Wii Zapper. Bundled with the Zapper is Link’s Crossbow Training, a shooting game with challenges and locales based in the world of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Does Link have room for another weapon in his already cluttered arsenal? Or is this twenty dollar piece of plastic just not worth the rupees?
The best part about the Wii Zapper is its low price of $19.99. Bundled with the peripheral is the aforementioned game, Link’s Crossbow Training, which is a mini-game collection of different target practice challenges spanning across the world of Twilight Princess. I would recommend the package for the game alone, but the fact that you get a clunky piece of plastic is a bonus.
For the Zapper itself, it is horribly designed. The gun itself is just housing for a Wii remote and nun chuck, nothing more – hence the low cost. The nun chuck sits at the back of the Zapper, allowing access to the joystick, 'C' and 'Z' buttons. The remote sits at the front where the barrel is pointed. They both lock in firmly, and there is space in the handle to wrap the wire around so it’s hidden and doesn’t get in the way during gaming.
The Zapper has two major flaws: the first is the spongy trigger that sits at the end of the barrel and activates the b button on the remote. The trigger lacks that feeling of responsiveness, especially when attempting rapid fire. It also lacks that intuitive feeling when holding a gun. Most players will naturally want to press the z button on the nun chuck as the trigger. Instead, it is an awkward and annoying realization that you are supposed to use the jagged fragment of plastic way down at the front of the barrel. It just doesn’t feel right.
The second issue is that the Zapper hurts to hold after twenty minutes or so. At first it feels relatively comfortable in your hands. The handles are made with a textured plastic which minimizes slippage as your palms get sweaty. But because the way the gun is designed, you have to hold it in such a way that really strains your wrists and hands. A normal light gun is easier to aim because it is a one handed operation and your wrist remains straight with the rest of your arm. The Zapper on the other hand causes the player to hold one arm in a bent, ‘s’ position (which is holding the back of the gun at chest height), and the other hand which is firing the trigger is also bent slightly (to follow the contour of the slanted underside of the Zapper). Basically, it is awkward to hold after a while.
A likely reason for going with this design is to cater the casual gaming crowd. Some may find it easier to aim a weapon with two hands than one. Since casual gamers tend to play for short sessions – twenty minutes or so – they will probably have less of a problem with the ergonomics of the Zapper. There is also the issue of being able to play FPS games using the peripheral. The player is really limited to the b trigger, c and z buttons, and the joystick. It’s very awkward to attempt to push any other buttons. It’s very unconvincing that this Zapper design will usher in a more accurate and fun way to play FPS games. If anything, an FPS would require a ‘dumbing-down’ process to accommodate the shortfalls of the Zapper. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
The game, Link’s Crossbow Training, is the fun part of this package. There are 9 trials, each with 3 sub challenges. Each task is over in less than 2 minutes or so, so overall the experience is short but sweet. The challenges vary from shooting bulls eyes on foot in Ordon village or aboard Epona through the fields of Hyrule; roaming the Gerudo deserts to fend off skeletons, or wiping out Skulltullas in the forests; and even the occasional boss fight.
The goal of every challenge is to get a high score. This is best done by chaining together hits. As long as you don’t miss any targets, your score multiplier will rack up like crazy and you will be the proud owner of a platinum medal. If you miss a shot, you start back at zero. This encourages accuracy and a memorization of each level – nothing too challenging for the average gamer. There are also scarecrows, fairies and coins hidden in pots that can give you an extra jolt of points.
You can zoom in using the z button which helps for distant targets. There is also an option to charge your shots which adds an explosive yield to the arrow. This is particularly useful for taking out clusters of small enemies or piles of skulls on the ground. You can also pick up a temporary rapid fire bonus for Link’s crossbow.
This game was ripped straight out of Twilight Princess, so expect a similar graphical presentation. It still holds up quite nicely, even after over a year later. The fireworks challenge is quite nice as colours and lights sparkle in the night sky over Zelda’s castle. Usually we don’t see graphics like this in mini-game compilations, so enjoy it while it lasts. The menus are little bland to look at though.
The music is right from Twilight Princess and doesn’t add anything to the mix other than the title screen. The midi style soundtrack and rhythmic songs work well for this budget title. It still sounds like a Zelda game.
Overall you can’t go wrong with the Wii Zapper. For a cheap price of $19.99, you get a peripheral and a quality game. Even though the Zapper itself is only a piece of white plastic which may cause you some serious hand cramps, it is nonetheless still functional and lets you break in Link’s new toy, the crossbow. The game is short lived, but fun; and for what you are paying, it’s hard to complain. The only hope is that either Nintendo or another company will re-examine the design of the Wii Zapper and come out with something that really works well. At this point, I still prefer my NES Zapper.
Reviewed by Brad Pritchard | 12.10.07
Anyone can pick up the Wii Zapper and become a master marksman in the quick-play shooting galleries of Link's Crossbow Training. Dozens of fast-paced stages offer a wide variety of game play, from shooting stationary targets to defending a supply wagon from onrushing hordes of enemies. Multiplayer modes let players and their friends share a Wii Zapper to shoot for the high score.
Link's Crossbow Training comes bundled with the Wii Zapper. After a few rounds of Link's Crossbow Training, players will be more than ready to pick up any of the future Wii Zapper titles, like Ghost Squad and Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles.
Using the Wii Zapper: The Wii Zapper requires the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, housing both in a comfortable and intuitive frame. The control stick on the Nunchuk controls player movement (on stages that allow player movement), while simply aiming the Wii Zapper moves the targeting reticule on the screen. Pulling the trigger fires Link's crossbow.
Link's Crossbow Training contains three basic game styles: target shooting, defender and ranger. There are 27 stages in total, and these categories represent only generally how each individual stage operates.