Based on the real-life Tunguska eventPoint-and-click adventures may seem 'unstylish' to those accustomed to the huge range of 'fashionable' action titles on the market, but the demand for games within the genre has stood the test of time and thanks to the German developers Animation Arts and Fusionsphere System, the brains behind the latest Wii adventure, Secret Files : Tunguska, they’re still going strong today.
The Wii has gifted the genre with a new opportunity, giving developers the chance to take advantage of the Wii-remote’s motion-sensing capability and make a success of adopting this style of game to console, something which has arguably never been done before. In theory, the Wii-remote should make the whole process of pointing at the screen and interacting with objects feel more natural, thus creating a more absorbing and interactive experience.
Secret Files: Tunguska was released on the PC in 2006 and the port, which is due for release on May 23 2008, is the developer’s first title on Wii. I was fortunate enough to have played the PC version in its entirety, so even without completing the Wii version, I can tell you that the game’s main strength is its intriguing adventure tale, which grows with expectation the further you delve into it, and does deliver with an inventive, albeit far-fetched, finale.
The story follows the real-life Tunguska event of 1908, in which a massive explosion, said to be 2,000 times the strength of the Hiroshima bomb, occurred in this remote area of Russia. Strangely, the explosion, caused by an enormous fireball, didn’t leave a crater and ever since that day conspiracy theories have been running strong, including the hypothesis that the Russian secret service may have been involved.
Admittedly, the intricate tale, in which the developers have used ‘artistic license’ to expand on the theories, will probably be lost to the younger audience that Wii is mainly intended for, but mature gamers should be intrigued by its tale of a mysterious reality.
Secret Files: Tunguska is virtually a straight port of the PC version. The story is identical and despite some of the English dialogue being poorly translated into broken-English subtitles, possibly thanks to a German translator from the development team, the game features some convincing voice acting and the dialogue is written with the skill of someone who has experience writing sci-fi and someone who knows exactly how to keep the viewer hooked.
Graphically, it’s an excellent port of the PC version and it hasn’t lost any of the clarity and richness of the environments, with locations, such as the Irish castle and a military train station boasting high levels of detail and impressive shadow and lighting effects. The high quality cut-scenes are also amongst the best I’ve seen on the Wii and coupled with the atmospheric soundtrack do a fine job at building the ambiance of this suspense-filled adventure.
Of course, having a game with a great story-line and suitably elegant graphics is all well and good, but unless the game-play can compete with it, it’s all been, well, not really worth the effort. Despite being the best game of its kind on Wii, Secret Files: Tunguska doesn’t quite get the Wii-remote implementation right, choosing to over-complicate things rather than keep it nice and simple like its PC counterpart.