E3 2007: Hands-on with Dewy’s Adventure

I think I was one of the few people that was actually looking forward to checking out Dewy’s Adventure for the Wii at this year’s E3.

Sure, the game is so ridiculously cute that it actually hurts my eyes (and ears) a little bit, but I thought the art style looked great and I was interested in checking out how the semi-original game mechanics would play out. I love platformers, especially ones that try to offer something new!

Since there were not a lot of people hanging around poor Dewy’s booth (sad!), I got to put a significant amount of time into this little pastel-wrapped ball of saccharine kitten kisses.

Check out my impressions after the jump.

Dewy’s Adventure is played only with the Wiimote (held sideways, like Excite Truck). By tilting the controller around, Dewy the water drop rolls in whatever direction you want him to. You basically don’t move Dewy, you move the world around him (and then gravity takes over).

The good news: this part of the control scheme works well. Feeling very much like Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, the tilting of the Wiimote is very responsive. Having broken base controls in a game like this would instantly destroy the experience, so thankfully even the slightest movements of your hand are transferred perfectly to the screen.

The problem I had with Dewy’s Adventure, though (oh no, my first disappointment!), was that once you add in the myriad other pieces of gameplay, the entire package feels a little awkward.

I get the tilt controls, and I really think they work well. In Super Monkey Ball or Kororinpa: Marble Mania, all you have to do is basically move a ball around the screen by moving around the Wiimote (occasionally jumping or using a power-up). But in Dewy’s Adventure, the basic tilt controls are coupled with all the trappings of a modern platformer and the result is jumbled and confusing.

On top of basic movement, Dewy can run, jump, punch, pound, attack, spin, and use a wide variety of special moves (more on those in a second). In a normal platformer these would be second nature, but when you are trying to jump on a small enemy by tilting the controller it becomes almost a task, and a frustrating one at that.

Seriously, in the opening tutorial level I even had trouble attacking the first set of enemies. All I had to do was jump on them once, but trying to line up my shadow with a very sensitive control scheme was way harder than I expected. I kept missing by a hair and getting hit by the seemingly simple monster until I died. Multiple times.

At first, I chalked it up to the learning curve, figuring that the whole point of this game was to offer something new and have the player experience a platformer like never before. But when I noticed how easy other parts of the game were to control and navigate, I realized that there were certain mechanics that just didn’t work in the presented environment.

Even putting battling aside, one of the major focuses of Dewy’s Adventure is the fact that he is a water drop and can turn really hot (boiling Dewy) or really cold (frozen Dewy) to help fight enemies and solve environmental puzzles. You can activate each of these modes using the d-pad, but, to be honest, even after all this play time, I still don’t really know how the upgrades work. Sometimes hitting “right” on the d-pad would activate boiling Dewy and “left” would activate frozen Dewy. That’s great. But then a few minutes later, “up” would activate boiling Dewy and “right” would trigger the frozen state. Huh?

And not only that, once I was in these modes, there were so many complicated moves involved that I had no idea what was going on. When you are boiling Dewy, for example, you can hit the “2” button while jumping in the air (with “1”) to perform a raging lightning bolt attack that stuns and hurts some of the enemies on-screen. But your regular attack of hitting “2” without jumping is disengaged so all you can do to fight monsters is use this time-consuming super move over and over again. Throw in the fact that your lightning storm doesn’t even harm some enemies, and … argh! Trying to master the controls is hard enough, but to switch them up every time you use one of your highly utilized power-ups just feels strange and counterintuitive.

On a better note, graphically, each world looks great, resembling kind of a more linear Super Mario 64 (forest stage, ice stage, lava stage, etc.). In fact, the depth of focus used in each stage (blurring the stuff in the background) is some of the best I have ever seen. Also, the art style is top-notch, offering widely varied worlds and gorgeous Elebit-esque cut-scenes in between the game’s many levels.

Maybe once I sit down for real with Dewy’s Adventure the experience won’t feel so foreign and mismatched, but, for now, I am worried that trying to play an entire game with the current controls could get old very, very quick.

The game is harmless, though, so I am given it the benefit of the doubt until I can try out the final product. There is definitely some fun and different stuff to be had, but after my mixed time with it I have to force myself to remain cautiously optimistic.

Chad Concelmo