Earlier this year I reviewed Game Factory’s Code Lyoko game for the DS, an adventure/platformer hybrid based off the popular TV show. Game Factory has continued work with the franchise with a version for the Wii, and they fixed a lot of problems that plagued the DS version. Code Lyoko: Quest for Infinity on the Wii is a marked improvement over its portable brother, yet it retains the same gameplay style.
Code Lyoko is still primarily an action platformer. You control the four main characters—Ulrich, Yumi, Odd and Aelita—within the virtual realm of Lyoko, as they try to stop the evil computer Xana and rescue their friend William. The fifth main character, Jeremy, is unplayable but acts as the other characters’ support. Most of the action takes place in Lyoko, which is played in a number of linear platforming levels. The point-and-click adventure mode from the DS game has been radically scaled back; instead of exploring the kids’ high school for clues to the next level, you only talk to various side characters to develop the story. In fact, the “2D” portion of the game isn’t much more than the game’s main menu, with a few other interactive features thrown in.
This choice to focus on the platforming gameplay streamlines the game a lot. While it would’ve been nice to have a better made adventure portion, the one in the DS version was clunky and slowed the pace considerably, so I can see why they removed it altogether. Through the menu and various conversations, you get a good picture of the kids’ normal life. The exposition is very similar to the Trauma Center games, and it works well enough. The developers understood that fans of the show play the game for the cool part: Lyoko.
The bulk of the game is spent in the virtual world, and each of the kids becomes a digital superhero when they’re in Lyoko. In the Wii version you can swap between characters on the fly, a welcome change from the DS version’s hub system. This also lets you shift tactics between characters, depending on what the current situation calls for. Ulrich’s laser sword is the only weapon that can penetrate some enemies’ armor, while Yumi can use her fans to lock on to multiple targets at once. The characters also gain special abilities as the game progresses, which let them reach new areas of the different levels. For Example, Odd can wall jump in narrow spaces, while Aelita can freeze enemies and use them as platforms. Most of the powers and weapons used by the characters can be upgraded with points accumulated in the levels.
Even with their varying offensive and puzzle-solving abilities, all of the characters control the same. The control stick moves them through the areas, the A button jumps, the Z trigger blocks, the B button attacks and the C button activates special powers. The remote’s cursor lets you target enemies and objects at will, which is much more comfortable than the DS’s cumbersome lock-on. The cursor also turns the characters’ orientation, so the whole thing feels like an FPS control scheme in an adventure game. The lack of camera control makes the setup feel a bit limited, but with the linear nature of the levels it’s never really a problem. The special abilities use the Wii remote’s motion sensing, which adds Wii functionality without making it gimmicky or annoying.
The levels themselves are pretty similar to the ones in the DS version, but bigger and with more variety. You’ll typically fight it out with cyber bugs and other virtual creatures in a large open area, and then proceed to some platforming or a puzzle. Each major area has a checkpoint at the beginning, so dying doesn’t send you back to the beginning of the level. The battles are also much easier than the frustrating ones on the DS, and health powerups are a lot more common. The addition of character-specific puzzles and the more balanced combat make Quest for Infinity a lot more fun to play.
The one exception is the rail shooting gameplay. In these levels you pilot the Skid, a small hovercraft that flies through the digital sea of Lyoko. These levels are rather simple, and involve shooting down flying robots and dodging obstacles. The combat works okay, even if it is very vanilla, but avoiding the large vertical columns is a hassle, because your ship is moving fast and has very little room to maneuver. These stages only serve to connect levels and aren’t much of a challenge, but I found myself getting pretty bored with them. Some more intricate level design and more imaginative enemies would have helped these rail-shooters out.
For a licensed title, Code Lyoko has modest graphics. The DS version managed to render attractive virtual environments, and the Wii version does about the same, just with better effects, crisper textures and higher polygon counts—the level structure is better and more involved as a result. Lyoko’s Tron-like levels are easy to create with the Wii hardware, because most of it is abstract colors and basic geometry—it’s supposed to look like a computer rendered it. The “real world” sections are all done in traditional 2D animation, but all of the Lyoko cutscenes are pre-rendered CG that look like the ones in the show. In this way the game looks a lot like the TV series, which gives it more synergy with the source material.
As for the actual story presented in those cutscenes, you probably won’t understand much of it unless you’re a fan of the show. I got the basic gist of the plot, but there’s a lot of back story already established in the series, so the game works better as a continuation of the show than an introduction. This rather abrupt presentation of the story will probably leave newcomers confused, but this game is really meant for people who already know the characters and watch the series on a regular basis. Fans will be happy to know that the voice actors from the show reprise their roles, and most of the music and sound effects carry over as well.
In fact, that’s pretty much what Code Lyoko is: a good game for the fans, but an average action platformer at best. Being a fan of the show will determine how much enjoyment you get out of the game. If you don’t know any of the characters or care about what happens to them, you won’t have much motivation to play through the game and find out what happens next. Code Lyoko: Quest for Infinity is a solid game that doesn’t do anything noteworthy—it’s entertaining and fun throughout, but if you don’t like the show then you might want to play something else.
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