In the start of a new series of columns I am going to look over games that have been released at launch to high light games that I think are still good today, generally speaking it is always advisable to stay away from a console at launch as the list of titles readily available will be limited, but I still think some gems do appear in such lists and I wish to draw attention to them (again). I will be starting the series off with Kameo: Elements of Power (developed by Rare).
Kameo had a long development (four years) and Rare switched its intended platform twice (first from the Gamecube to the Xbox and then on to the Xbox 360). Out of the titles available at launch (which varied from region to region) it was one of only four games not to be part of an established franchise or a movie tie-in.
The story of the game is simple and one you would expect from a typical fantasy game. The Queen of the Elves (and widow of the King) has given the ability to transform into animals to her younger daughter (Kameo) not her elder daughter (Kalus). Like monarchical succession this is something that is meant to go to the elder daughter and Kalus is understandably pissed (what is it with all the love for the younger sibling in fiction?), however she handles this in a way that justifies her mother’s actions. In order to get revenge she captures her family, tortures them and revives the Troll King (who had been turned to stone by the now dead king) and re ignites war between Elves and the Trolls. In an attempt to rescue them, Kameo barely escapes with her life and must regain the spirits of these creatures (or Elemental Warriors) if she is to defeat the Troll King and save the land.
Kameo has always been a game that I’ve enjoyed and the reason for that is why I’m glad that it didn’t make it to the Gamecube. This isn’t a dark game, most of the time you are put in bright and colourful environments, the only major exceptions being those levels that serve as Troll lairs and the occasional land of shadow that you will encounter (you’ll find out what I mean when you play). The game has
the usual locations, a castle, fire area, grass area, water area, etc. The backgrounds practically glow in places and the characters are all slightly cartoonish, I especially love this when it comes to the creature’s that Kameo transforms into as it gives them more personality and they look much more interesting than the creatures I remember seeing in Nintendo magazine.
In terms of game play you will find yourself doing one of two things, puzzle solving adventuring and fighting. The non-combat gameplay doesn’t need much said about it, it is very competent if not very challenging. The fight gameplay is fun and where you will discover which creature you love the most.
Each Elemental Warrior has a right trigger attack, a left trigger attack and an attack that is made by pressing both at the same time. They all do different things and the combat was strengthened considerably when a proper co-op option was added. In co-op you will find yourself much more able to make use of the warriors’ different strengths and find ways to combine their powers. For example, there is
one Elemental Warrior who produces oil and another one who is a dragon, I think you can see where I’m going with this.
Kameo did have some DLC but it was all costume skins (and one pack that added expert mode). That isn’t too bad as they are all quite cheap (or free) and a lot of them are quite fun (though you do get a 0 point achievement for downloading one of them, possibly the most pointless achievement yet). Such skins include the ability to play as Mumbo Jumbo, put your Yeti in a suit or replace the cannon on one warrior’s back with a globe (it is really pretty).
Kameo: Elements of Power is a fun game, it is bright colourful and beautiful. It has a
simple story and fun game play that for the most part avoids repetition or being too fiddly. I have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of it and now recommend you try it for yourselves, being an Xbox 360 launch title it is very cheap.