The Kore Gang: Outvasion from Inner Earth|
I have to admit my Wii didnít get much attention this past year until recently thanks to a few good titles. Oddly enough, one of them is The Kore Gang: Outvasion from Inner Earth, which features plenty of 90s platformer action and cartoonish charm. Itís the kind of title that I would have expected from developers back in the golden years of Rare. After a bit of research, I found out that The Kore Gang was originally meant to release back on the original Xbox. As it goes with the gaming industry, delays happen and we find the odd trio of heroes on the Wii with plenty of good moments and a few problems along the way.
The story starts out with three weird looking brothers rather humorously getting the captured Dr. Samuelson to tell them which way is up, all so they can escape from their home in the center of the Earth and conquer the surface world starting with Manhattan. We are introduced to the first playable character Pixie as she is climbing the side of a skyscraper, before being knocked off the building from a seismic shift into an open manhole. As crazy as her survival from that fall is, she discovers a magical suit that alters to the users skills.
Pixie is the acrobatic one of the team utilizing the ability to jump higher and move slightly faster than Madboy. She also has her most useful ability which is a grapple hook to get her to higher locations or out of reach platforms that require the grapple and swing approach by targeting specific orange objects throughout the 30+ levels with the remote. Sheís the go to character for navigating the levels and my favorite character. She also gains the ability to pirouette across long gaps as well as tricking enemies to aid you by holding the remote vertical and spinning it around. It took me a while and several deaths to get it down, thanks to either my inability to hold a remote straight up or control issues. But sheís only one part of the equation and there are a slew of enemies to get in her way.
This is where Madboy comes into play as the suit dons a pair of big fists to deal out damage to the various oddities of creatures. Madboy, as you can imagine, does all the dirty work as you use one of his four main skills. Most of the time you will hit the attack button to dispatch foes, but by waving your wand to the left and right you can do a whirlwind attack that not only dishes out damage to multiple enemies but can save you when surrounded. He also has the ability to deflect bullets and bombs by using the B button at just the right time. He can also lay out heavy hits by charging a punch with the A and B Buttons and then releasing. This attack is useful but effective only if the enemy is right in front of you when you let go. My favorite attack is his ability to throw objects at enemies or switches if you have the ammo to do so by turning the remote sideways. But Madboy wouldnít be a useful ally if it werenít for Rex, his best friend and Chihuahua.
The robot takes on a four-legged stance making Rex the fastest moving of the trio which really comes in handy in one chapter that is fun and annoying at the same time since he is harder to control, especially on narrow pathways. Rex's strong suites make him the detective of the game as he puts his nose and ears to work. His enhanced hearing allows for the player to eavesdrop onto conversations that reveal what the player needs to know or find to progress in the story. You do this by using the nunchuk's analog stick to dial in the right station to listen in. The cool part is that the information is broadcasted through the Wii remote's speaker. You can even hear the resistance group's song "Weeba" play on the radio of you set the radio to a random station. Rex also uses his ears to crack safes, which in itself puzzled me on how you actually did the safe cracking at first based on the gameís visual cues. In the end, itís a simple matter of rotating the analog stick slowly like you would with a real combination lock and listening for the tell-tale clicks from the remotes speaker. Donít worry, the game lets you know when you get it right. Rex can even aid in combat by emitting a loud howl that will stop any enemy in their tracks allowing you time to switch to Madboy for the real fighting.
There was plenty of fun moments to be had with The Kore Gang. The biggest of these is the game's design and feel. I spent most of my time waiting for the next zany musical number or off-the-wall character all the while thinking that Iíve seen some of these locations before. Fortunately, The Kore Gang features original locals, save for their take of a view of Manhattan, that had probably would have made Tim Burton proud. Each of the 30+ levels had a look that is hard to describe but a welcome treat. I have to say that I like how the inhabitants of the invading ship have levels that make you think that you are outside on a floating mass of platforms and islands when in fact youíre inside metal spheres most of the time. The only thing that really subtracted from the cool level designs, much to my frustration, is the camera controls and limitations.
Players can adjust the view around their current hero by using the D-Pad to see where they are headed and for the most part that works pretty well. The only issue I ran into is when you hit the boundaries of the cameras radius or fall behind something youíre not really supposed to. There is also the option to hold down the Z Button and moving the wand towards the edge of the screen for more free looking capabilities. This is great and much faster than using the D-Pad but is annoying when you go to look straight up. The camera just spins if you try to see anything almost directly above you, requiring you to be a little distance away for you desired elevated target. This is particularly true when collecting the set numbers of Zeeks scattered around these levels.
Yes you heard right. It wouldnít be a 90s style platformer without having to collect some things along the way. The Zeeks are little floating energy creatures that can be collected to unlock extras in the Compendium, but more importantly replenish your suits health should you take damage. There are hidden purple ones aptly called Zeekrets that, like their name implies, are not that easy to find as I walked away with probably less than half of them. The fun doesnít stop there as you will be tasked with doing things like finding metal bananas, stinky sausages and even some ammunition to fuel the machine gun turrets. As you can also guess you will have to find every last item to make it through roadblocks such as gates, locked exit doors and my personal favorite, a timed door puzzle though a dark cactus filled room.
The most challenging thing about The Kore Gang besides avoiding some of the later environmental traps are the bosses found periodically throughout. You eventually have to fight each of the Krank Brothers to continue and some more than once, and in true 90's Rare fashion there is a trick to each fight. Itís usually a process of learning the pattern and attacking when thereís an obvious weak point and repeating several times. I died several times getting the patterns down on every major fight, but it was totally fun doing it. I thrive on actual boss fights since they are sort of rare these days, and it will take a combination of all three heroes to defeat most bosses.
If you thought that a dark cactus filled room sounds weird then you're in for a surprise with the rest of The Kore Gang. All the levels are contained within a giant drilling machine called the Krank Tank and half the time I forgot this fact due to how well the levels are designed. The environments will vary from toxic looking junkyards full of failed robots, to a mechanical desert fortress, and even a colorful madhouse that could leave you insane until you figure out its secret. But with over 30+ levels there are just too many to talk about. There is plenty of bright and eerily cheerful looking levels complete with almost calming music despite the fact that youíre trying to save Earth from three crazy brothers. There are also levels that have a decidedly less friendly look such as the prison levels and even my favorite cactus filled hourglass level. Even though the levels vary in style the same cartoony almost cel-shaded look makes The Kore Gang appealing to the eye. The only downside is that this same art style gives The Kore Gang a dated look, even by Wii standards.
The sound design was a bit better as the use of the remoteís speaker and the overall mix of cheerfully creepy music and pleasant music make up for the visuals. I really enjoyed the music as it once again gave me the feeling that I was in a Tim Burton production. The random moments of bursting into song by the enemies and the inhabitants of the Krank Tank only solidify that feeling. I did like the use of the remoteís speaker as I havenít played many titles that use that feature lately, and it was cool to listen to a conversation through it as it kind of reminded me of Silent Hillís cell phone feature. I also liked the humerous character dialogue and the voice actors did quite well. I couldnít stop laughing as I sat there listening to one of the Krank brothers swearing up a storm while Pixie just stood there giving him looks. Donít worry they were all bleeped out which made it even funnier.
The Kore Gang was an enjoyable adventure despite its flaws. Itís actually a surprisingly long title spanning 32 levels that took me roughly about 8-9 hours to beat, not counting the number of times I died from camera issues or the bosses. There is a bit of replayability if youíre a completionist and want to collect all the Zeeks and Zeekrets to unlock the Compendium content by replaying individual levels. The Kore Gang does allow for multiple save files so no worries about overriding each otherís games.
The Kore Gang: Outvasion from Inner Earth was a nice trip back into an era of gaming that I grew up with. I liked the presentation, although its somewhat colorful but dated look doesnít really help this adventure in the long run. The characters and everything from the music to the menus reminded me a lot of movies and shows that I used to watch when I was younger and that is probably what kept drawing me in. At $20, The Kore Gang is a zany tale with an equally outlandish cast that I can easily recommend for a bit of family enjoyment.