Code Lyoko: Quest for Infinity Review
Who here remembers the basics like Tiny Toon Adventures, Rocko's Modern Life and Rugrats? I remember watching these cartoons and then playing video games that didn't make too much sense -- they were no more than platformers with cartoon characters tossed in. Some would argue cartoons have gotten worse, but I'd argue that they have shifted thanks to anime gaining popularity here in the states. One of the cartoons that seems to be getting popular is a French import, Code Lyoko. Naturally, the cartoon has given birth to a video game franchise, one in which the second game, Quest for Infinity, has appeared on the Wii.
Code Lyoko, for the unfamiliar, is a cartoon centering around five characters -- Aelita, Jeremy, Ulrich, Odd, and Yumi. The group is trying to stop XANA from taking over the real world. They do that by 'virtualizing' -- much like the gimmick in the TV show, Jeremy sends the other four characters into the virtual world to do battle with XANA's forces. While the idea does sound pretty neat, and can be entertaining at times, this is a game definitely not made for those that aren't fans of the series.
First of all, this game does quite a few things right. Oddly enough, the biggest of them comes into play with the use of the wiimote. One of the characters, Ulrich, uses a sword as his weapon when in the virtual world. You can use the Wiimote to swing the sword, with the neatest part being the ability for the game to determine vertical or horizontal swings. While it isn't revolutionary and has been done before, it is nice to see this kind of touch in a game that kids will definitely play (and be happy that they can imitate one of their favorite characters that much more accurately). The tracking of the cursor also seems to be spot-on when using the projectile weapons of the other characters -- I didn't notice any jittering at all, even with sunlight streaming in from the window. Also, the levels where you're piloting your ship through the Digital Sea are pretty neat. In these scenes, you simply turn turn the Wiimote to shift your ship around, and lock on to/shoot enemies with missles. It is simple, but a pretty nice use of the Wiimote that doesn't feel too forced.
Back to the characters for a moment, though. In a strange twist, each of the characters feels distinct in their own right -- not something you'd expect from a kid's game. You can also switch between them with relative ease, as you only have to tap the character's direction on the Wiimote. Ulrich, as mentioned before, is a master of the blade. The other three characters have distinctly different projectile attacks, though. Odd shoots lasers, Aelita has chargeable balls of energy to toss and Yumi has fans that she can lock onto enemies with before firing. Each of these abilities can be powered up in a very rudimentary RPG-style system. As you gather 'data' through your time in the world, you can have Jeremy re-program these abilities for your characters. In other words, you buy the abilities with in-game money. Basic stuff, but a nice touch none-the-less.
The bad part comes in when you check out this world that you're going to be playing in. Now, the 2D sequences aren't that bad. Cartoon images of the characters appear on the screen, and fully-voiced characters speak lines. However, the main gameplay will take place in the digital world. First things first -- this world is pretty authentic to the show. However, the graphics are not really all that great. You can be authentic all you want, but if the game looks drab and boring in these virtual worlds that are such a focal point, where is the motivation to play through them? This element right here is going to be a chief factor in keeping the game away from anyone but die-hard fans of the show.
Something else that I feel is severely missing would be multiplayer. On the surface, this sounds like the perfect way to get a four-player, kid-friendly, teamwork-based game onto the Wii, right? the four kids from Code Lyoko all jump into the virtual worlds together, journey together, and solve problems together. So why can't four kids in the real world pick up Wiimotes, hit a button on the directional pad and join in? the game's premise seems ideal for it, but there wasn't a way to do it. Having been a young kid at one point and having two brothers, I know how a fight for a single player game on a console can go. A grand opportunity was missed here.
Overall, Code Lyoko is not a horrible game by any means. On the contrary -- it seems to be a near-perfect rendition of what you're going to see in the television show. That, however, is going to be both the game's biggest selling point and its weakest one. While fans of the show will get a kick out of the game, tooling around virtual worlds with Ulrich and friends, non-fans of the series will be missing out. The story assumes a lot of basic knowledge is already had from the show, the digital world graphics are really boring and the gameplay gets pretty repetitive after awhile. If you're just after a quick rental, though, this can be worth checking out. And if you're a parent with a kid who likes Code Lyoko, put the 40 bucks down and grab this game -- they're sure to get a kick out of it.