Another Code R: Gateway of MemorylikeTBC Developer CiNG Publisher Nintendo Genre Adventure Platform Nintendo Wii Release 26/6/2009 Point and Click adventures have seen better days, once a thriving genre on the PC market, they seem to have all but died out other than the odd Flash freeware game and a CSI/The Adventure Company game. One of the genre's main problem was the fact that it just failed to innovate itself to keep up with the needs of the gamer and as games became more interactive spaces, the need for point and click became obsolete. Well, obsolete be damned. CiNG -- an unfortunately little-known Japanese developer -- knew exactly what was wrong with the point and click genre and decided to fix it. Their first point and click game with Nintendo, the 2005 DS game; Another Code: Two Memories was an innovative use of the DS' primary features which would only really be overshadowed by CiNG's second DS game; Hotel Dusk: Room 215. A lot rides on the Wii Another Code's shoulders to continue CiNG's sage-like understanding of the genre.

Ashley ponders the point of corner-shaped bookcases
Set two years after the events of Another Code on the DS, our protagonist; Ashley Robbins is on her way to visit her quite estranged father, who for most of the last game she had never met. Thing's don't get off to a good start for the girl, as she has her luggage stolen from her just as she leaves the bus and keeps getting terrible flash backs to her memories of her deceased mother and her mother's connection to 'Juliet Lake' and the 'JC Valley' corporation. Along the way, Ashley meets a whole range of different characters and acquires a tag-along; a young boy named Matthew, who has become detached from his family. Overall, the story has a sense of Deja Vu about it. The basic story is a clone of that found in Another Code on the DS, however far lengthier and padded out with a lot more characters and back-story. Despite the overall dark and sinister nature of the story, it's all told with a big happy-smiley face on it, the story itself is fairly interesting but it surely feels watered-down to appeal to kids as well as adults.

The game itself can easily be split into four segments; talking, walking, exploring and solving. For a lot of the game you'll be doing walking and talking, but sadly; never at the same time. You navigate the world on 'rails', basically. You control Ashley on a 2.5D plane, pressing left and right on the Wii Remote D-Pad or pointing the Wii Remote cursor to the left or right of the screen and holding the A button to move. At times, the path will fork off which the player will have the chance to press up or down on the D-Pad or 'click' the pathway using the Wii Remote cursor. In this type of gameplay, there's little for the player to do, most of your time you'll just find places to enter, people to talk to and scenes to interact with. It's hard to really get lost in the game, since the game does give you a map. The game also has no real difficulty in finding locations you can interact with, as the whole controller rumbles as you walk past something of interest. That includes paths, interactive scenes and people.

Once you've found something to interact with, the game shifts into one of two 'looking' modes. If you enter a building, you'll be presented with an area where you can look around on pre-set locations by swivelling around a 360-degree area. Here you can inspect items or trigger the 'second' looking mode by clicking on something with the Wii Remote cursor. You will hardly miss anything, as once again the controller vibrates when you hover over something and the item itself turns orange (quite Hotel Dusk-ish). Once in the second view mode, you are on a static viewpoint but have the same basic functionality as the swivelling camera mode (minus the swivelling). In both modes you'll find items, activate flash backs or find hints to puzzles. To initiate some puzzles in the game, it's as simple as clicking on a scene or item, other times you may have to use an item on a piece of scenery. The even rarer event is that you combine two items together to use within the puzzle.

I was walking in the woods one day...
Puzzles are always signified by a special jingle, puzzles utilise the Wii's motion controls and some will make you think, others will annoy. The game is very clever in it's use of motion controls, such as pouring liquid by tilting the Wii Remote and then swirl the Wii Remote in a specific manner to mix the water and a chemical together. You don't have to be overall accurate with your gestures and use some very clever ideas, most of which I haven't seen used in Wii games so far. Puzzles never get too difficult and the solution is usually always at hand or in the close vicinity of the puzzle. Other puzzles in the game are more annoying, with unclear controls or even without hints on what you're supposed to be doing at any one time. What's worse is that puzzles late into the game don't give you hints at all, instead you have to just flail your arms about and hopefully clock onto what exactly CiNG were thinking of at the time. It is actually a very good example of just how sensitive the Wii's controls are and the possible gestures the Wii Remote can take advantage of.

Talking is where most of your game time will go. There's hours of dialogue in the game, a lot of it is simply uninteresting. However, is quite a believable script. The game has a quaint little "good/bad" response feature which is used sparingly through-out the game, responding in either way usually does little to alter the conversation and usually just ends up with the 'real' answer coming forth anyway. Almost every conversation is broken up by some player interaction, this is usually a question to ask. These questions pop-up automatically as other people speak, it's then just a case of waiting until they stop speaking and selecting another question from the list. Sometimes you also have to hand over items to people, error isn't a problem as the characters in the game do not take anything else other than their required item off you. So even if you have no idea what these people want, you can basically tempt them with everything in your inventory until you find the right one. Talking scenes can be backed out of when selecting a question to save the game (good in later stages of the game where talks seem to be endless).

McGuyver would have a fit
There's also little side-features in the game which are presented as bigger features than they actually are. For instance, the Camera. Now upgrading the DAS from an original DS with a camera in it to a DSi which has a camera in it anyway, you can take snaps of just about everything in the game much like in the DS game. Unfortunately, it's use is much more limited in the Wii version than the DS with some little Easter Eggs found by taking pictures of objects or scenes. There's also the RAS device which is shaped like a Wii Remote which is used to unlock security doors in the game by pressing buttons or holding the Wii remote in a specific way. There's also a CCTV camera style interface you can access later in the game which is just another story telling device rather than a practical gameplay mechanic. Other time-wasting features to be had in the game are collecting cans to recycle and gain medals which can be used in exchange for gum balls.

Visually the game has a distinct art style, cell shaded yet not quite in the vein as many cell shading games before it. It doesn't stride to be an interactive animation, it instead seems to consider itself more a moving 'pop up book', as when moving from two different locations (say from Juliet Lake to the Resort next to it) you have a little animation where the world seems to spring up from the ground. Character design is believable, each character having their own animations, not just generic ones. A wide range of facial expressions for a lot of characters help give each one a unique personality. The game is one of the prettier games for the Wii, most definitely. It's hard to appreciate from still images as the game surely does look 'blocky', with straight edges to character models all over the place. However, in motion the game is a wonderful treat for the eyes.

Science! It's imaginary!
Audio is a bit of a let down, there's no voice acting in the game. Thus means everyone speaks in little 'bip' sounds. Sure, to anyone who's played CiNG's DS games this will seem like a bit of fun and does eliminate the possibility of bad dubs in other languages (see: every Square Enix game since 2002) but on the other hand makes it just a bit more boring for those not too keen on reading a novel when playing a game. Music in the game ranges from 'catchy' to 'downright cheesy', all of which can be played back in-game at any time after hearing it once. Music is rarely ill-fitting though, so at least the game makes best of a badly conceived soundtrack. The game also borrows music from the first, DS Another Code game, however even that feels poorly executed with old music not looping at all, just fading out to start again.

The game's length is nothing anyone should be concerned about either. For a point and click adventure game, you're looking at 26 hours of gameplay on your first run. 26 hours. Of course, like all games of this nature, if you use a guide or walk-through the game will be considerably shorter, however you're looking at a minimum of 13 hours gameplay even if you know what you're roughly doing. Replay value isn't much there, however. The main story doesn't really branch at all like it did in the first (which wasn't much to start with), everything in the story is presented to you as you progress through normally. Just remember that like the first DS game, there's a point-of-no-return at the end of the game. So get all those Easter Eggs and what-not done before then.

Another Code R: Gateway of Memory is a good game, but far from perfect. The game is an innovative use of the Wii Remote and has a somewhat engrossing story, however that only really comes from the mystery surrounding Ashley's mother and not the actual main plot itself which I couldn't have cared less about, quite frankly. Puzzles tested my concentration, observation and sometimes patience, it's a mixed bag of good ideas and bad execution. However, as a spiritual successor to CiNG's adventure games, it succeeds. Anyone who likes a good point and click game will enjoy Another Code R, others may not. If you enjoy reading your way through games and are an avid fan of puzzles, this game is for you. Everyone else's mileage may vary.