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Review: Kameo: Elements of Power

Kameo: Elements of Power is another title whose price has been cut in half recently. Originally this game was planned for the Nintendo Gamecube, but after Microsoft’s purchase of Rare, the game got delayed and delayed up to the point where its future was uncertain. But after a while it became clear this game was going to be one of the launch titles for the Xbox 360 console. Read on if you want to know how this turned out.

Starting off

On starting the game you’ll get a quick explanation of what’s going on. Your sister was jealous of you getting some magic powers and she released an evil monster from the past called ‘Thorn’, the Troll king. This evil duo has kidnapped your family and is trying to take over the world as is customary in most games these days. Your job is obviously to thwart their plans and rescue your relatives. That’s about all you hear and after this cinematic you’re dropped of at a level called ‘Thorn’s Castle’. Your goal in this level is to reach the exit alive. And while you’re doing that you get hindered by a large variety of obstacles like enemies or blocked paths for example. To get past these obstacles you have the ability to morph into several elemental warriors. In the first level you can only choose three: An ice spike firing yeti, a plant with boxing gloves and a round hedgehog without needles. To give you an idea of a special ability, with Pummel Weed – the boxing plant – you can move under the ground to pass under a fence which is only slightly opened. In total there are 10 different elemental warriors which you’ll gather during the game.

When you’re done with your first level you’ll arrive in the Enchanted Kingdom, a cozy peaceful place where everybody is happy. You’ll be instructed on how to rotate the view and other basic stuff you needed for the first level you’ve already finished. You’ll also get an introduction to the Wotnot book. This book has everthing in it that Kameo needs to know, there’s even a wizard called Ortho embedded into the cover. In this book you can also upgrade your elemental warriors and change which one you morph into when you press one of the colored buttons. When you’re on a quest, and you’re stuck for a while, Ortho will happily give you some advice on how to get past whatever’s in your way. His help unfortunately comes a little too soon on default settings: when you’re only looking around, Ortho already begins gibbering about what to do next. This makes the game’s puzzles way too easy even though you can choose to shut him up permanently in the game options. Sometimes there are more degrees of help available when you’re still not getting any further with his first advice.

Further into the game

When comparing the 2nd level to the first one, it’s kind of a bummer to find out it has less action and repetitive puzzles to solve. I put the game away for a couple of days before I started again out of boredom. Thankfully the game gets better as you progress. Defeating more shadow trolls who hold elemental warriors captive gives the game a big boost in variety. But I must also warn you that rushing through the game is the worst thing you can do. You won’t have any fun doing so, I realized this when I started tried out some fun stuff like getting to places where you’re not supposed to be. Once you take your time to look around and study all the nicely designed levels you’ll enjoy yourself a whole lot more. During your quest you can also gather elemental fruit to upgrade your elemental warriors. Sometimes this fruit is just lying around for you to grab, but most of the times you’ll have to do a little assignment or accomplish some tough feat. These assignments are like mini quests, for example: you’ll get a small briefing by a villager to light a couple of candles. To successfully complete this quest you’ll need a special elemental warrior which you may or may not have in your possession. So to get all of the 100 fruits you have to return to previous areas occasionally to retrieve the fruit you weren’t able to get before.

When you’re done with the solo campaign, there’s also a ‘score attack’ mode. In this mode you’ll have to gather as much points as possible to get an A rating and unlock an achievement. This gets kind of boring since you’ll just be grinding down enemies for a while and then go to the exit. With only 6 standalone levels available it won’t take you that long as well once you’ve gathered some grinding experience.

There’s also some co-op action available for this title. When the game first shipped you were only able to play split-screen. But a while ago, a patch has been made available to play this game over Xbox Live with friends living not so close by. You won’t be having much fun with this unfortunately: you’re only able to play the same levels you played in the solo campaign and there’s hardly any teamwork involved. You can clearly see the levels weren’t really designed for this type of co-op action. The only thing that makes it a little less boring are the level bosses, these can be fun to do.

Graphics and sound

The graphics for this title are very well done, it has a very cartoony feeling even though the graphics aren’t cell-shaded. The amount of characters on screen is also very impressive. At a few occasions you’re screen is filled with well over a hundred trolls and the game is still going strong at 60 FPS. Also, when you’re in a level with a dark and grey skyline there are often a large bunch of dragons flying by just to give you a nice view. The sound of this game is very well done. When walking through the enchanted kingdom you definitely feel the world is alive. Every character is doing something and makes some noise whether it be complaing, cheering sleeping, or doing their daily routine. Moving through this world with 5.1 surround sound is absolutely great. Combine this with an orchestral musical score and a you have an awesome soundtrack for this game.

Conclusion

I’ve got some mixed feelings with this game. It has a nice atmosphere, and the sound is really great. But when you’re done with the main quest, there’s just not much left to do unless you’re an achievement whore. It’s definitely not a bad game and with its price cut it’s definitely worth the money. And finally because it’s the only action adventure available on the Xbox 360 and the only one that’s next-gen worthy, I still give it a good rating.

Final Score: 8 out of 10 - Good (how do we rank games?)

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7 comments on 'Review: Kameo: Elements of Power'

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and a round hedgehog without needles

Until you upgrade him. ;)

Good job pointing out that you can’t rush through it. I finished it Friday (I think) and I think you scored it pretty well. 7.5, maybe, but we don’t use decimals. Unfortunately.

Yeah i’d give it a little less than 8 points too but it’s worth more than 7 points.

Comment by soul2soul on 2006-06-19 18:09:29 | Reply

AS far as I know Kameo is 30 fps, this game has some of the best textures ever on the X360 alsways super sharp-hi-res and nice effect, prallax mapping, bump, the whole works. One of my fav launch games.

Comment by trj156 on 2006-06-19 19:19:39 | Reply

yeah, its not 60 fps. some people say you cant tell the difference but they have no clue what they are talking about.

After some background checking, it’s hard to verify whether its 30 or 60 fps, but let’s just say it doesn’t have any slowdowns.

Unless it’s intentional like when you use the fire vortex with the dragon. :D

Comment by The M.A.R.T. on 2006-06-20 15:44:52 | Reply

Has someone seen Kameo somewhere already for around 30 Euro’s in The Netherlands? I like it for that price, and what about Condemned? Should also be cheaper but haven’t seen it anywhere yet…

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