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Nov 28

Written by: Thryon
11/28/2005 10:29 PM  RssIcon

Box Art
Perfect game for your new console
Kameo: Elements of Power
Release Date: November 15, 2005
Developer: Rare
ESRB Rating: Teen
Reviewed by: Brian Wray
The Xbox 360 launched with about 16 titles. Some games such as Madden 06 and Perfect Dark Zero gathered a lot of attention, while other games got lost in the shuffle. Kameo: Element of Power was a perfect example of the latter of the two.

Why the game was lost in the shuffle could be understandable as the game had appeared to be in development limbo. Kameo started its life as a Nintendo GameCube game. Once Rare was acquired by Microsoft, development on Kameo quickly switched from the GameCube to the Xbox console. Its turbulent life finally came to rest on the Xbox 360 platform as Microsoft felt they needed a good platformer for the debut of their new console. Kameo did fill the need for this genre quite nicely.

The story in Kameo is quite simple (most games stories are). Theena, the Elf Queen, decides to break with tradition and grant her youngest daughter Kameo her abilities to morph into Elemental Warriors and the knowledge of the Wotnot book. Kalus, the first daughter, thought that the heritage was rightfully hers and took revenge upon the entire family. She then, in all her evilness, unleashed Thorn the Troll King and his minions upon the world. Kameo, who was sparred from capture when she was knocked down and left behind, must now recapture the Shadow Warriors, save her family and stop Thorn and the trolls. What was very cool is the fact that the story is actually told as form of a playable prologue that also serves as a tutorial to the game. The prologue ends with Kameo loosing all her abilities (shame) and Elemental Warriors.

To recap; Kameo must find Elemental Warriors to kill the bad guy and save the world. This may sound daunting, but it is just another typical day for a game hero. Kameo does have a very important ability that will be of aid to her in accomplishing these tasks. She has the ability to morph into ten different Elemental Warriors at a whim; that is she HAD the ability to morph into these Elemental Warriors. The Elemental Warriors have since escaped and returned to the world as Elemental Sprites that will need to be recaptured before she can take on her evil sister and Thorn. Each Elemental Warrior come with a different skill set that can be used in both offensive and defensive situations. Some skills can also be used to access previously unavailable areas. Each warrior may also be upgraded by finding hidden fruit that will provide the character with new or upgraded skills. To rescue the Enchanted Kingdom will require Kameo to gain mastery of all ten Elemental Warriors and to learn how to quickly change from one form to the next, sometimes while in mid-air.
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Kameo allows the Xbox 360 to flex its graphical muscle. Simply put, the game looks incredible. The game does not look as “next-gen” as I wished it did, but it definitely looks better than previous offerings on the Xbox console. The main character and elemental warriors all look great. What stands out in the game the most are the various game environment. The Enchanted Kingdom is divided into four distinct zones. All usual gaming clichés are present; the water, fire, forest and ice areas are all here. These zones are all connected via the Badlands, a middle area in constant conflict by warring parties. It is populated by hundreds of trolls and a perfect place to amaze friends that have come over to see that fancy new console in action. Also equally impressive is that the various area are filled with flowers and butterflies, mountains with blowing snow and bunnies, embers and dragons swooping in or other such details. Everywhere I looked, there was stuff happening, things moving. The game felt alive. Kameo also features plenty of cool visual effects. Most impressive were the warping capabilities of Kameo, the shimmering heat effect from fire and the realistic looking water effects.

Sound quality is top notch. The game is scored by an actual orchestra providing a different musical piece for each area of the game. This is a rarely used feature in the world if a world populated with soundtracks and looping midi files. It provides the game with a feeling of grandeur, of importance. The voice work is also top notch. It is a joy to listen to the tales of various in game characters and creature.
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Combat in Kameo appears to take second place to exploration and puzzle solving, but combat can be quite fun and rewarding. Delivering blow to enemies will increase Kameo’s combat meter. Filling this meter will send Kameo into a frenzy that will make enemies move super slow allowing her (in any form) to lay down some serious troll poundage. Finding combat a bit difficult, do not worry as Kameo allows for some local co-op action via split screen and (after a title update) over Xbox Live. Playing multi-player is actually quite fun. This is a perfect for parents who may want to enjoy a title with their child (or to use it as an excuse to simply play the game). For those advanced gamers, co-op play is great for achieving high scores as two players are more effective at unlocking AAA ranking on harder levels.

Kameo: Elements of Power is a great game that did not get the attention it deserved. The game is not the system seller that Microsoft may have wanted, but as far as launch games are concerned, the game is solid and quite fun. It is a bit sad, but the game can already be found in bargain bins at most retailers that sell games. For those that have not yet tried this great title, go out and find a copy today.
--Brian Wray

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