Our hero Link returns to the Wii rather sooner than expected in the form of Link's Crossbow Training, a shooting game set in the world of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. The game has been created by Nintendo to demonstrate the use of the Wii Zapper, the accessory the game is bundled with.
The Wii Zapper is not actually a stand alone controller, it's simply a housing for your Wiimote and Nunchuck that in total creates a “gun” similar to what you might find in the arcade. It's important to remember that the Wii Zapper works quite differently to those arcade “light guns”, instead of aiming by pure vision, you're controlling an on-screen cursor, moving it as you move your Wii Zapper.
At first this sounds quite naff, but it actually works pretty well... after all console light guns have never been that perfect.. it is a bit different but it works sufficiently well.
Link's Crossbow Training is played across many famous locations from the Twilight Princess game and spans over 9 levels. Each level consists of 3 stages, giving the game a total of 27 stages (two of which are boss battles). If you've played through Twilight Princess, you'll recognize pretty much all of these locations and know all the enemies.
There are three types of stage in this game, each of which last around 60 to 90 seconds each. The first and most basic type is “Targets” where Link's vision is fixed and you're generally shooting targets. The second is “Defender” where Link can change his view by turning on the spot and defends himself from incoming enemies. The third and most advanced type of stage is “Ranger” where you control Link in a third-person perspective and walk around attacking enemies, kind of like Resident Evil 4.
The purpose of the game is to earn as many points as possible, hitting targets in sequence without missing a shot dramatically increases your score. For example if each target was 100 points, and you hit 10 in a row, you would get 100x1, 100x2, 100x3 etc.. up to 100x10. Getting these sequence combos are essentially the key to the game.
Each 3 stage level has a medal tier, getting 20,000 points for the whole level gains you a Bronze medal, 40,000 gets a Silver and 60,000 a Gold. Every time you get a Bronze medal a new level will become unlocked.
In addition to the general firing of your crossbow, Link can also “Zoom” his view with the button, this helps a lot in a number of situations.
The game plays quite well, it is good fun and you certainly feel satisfaction when you crack a Gold medal score.. however it's soon clear that this is an incredibly short quest with no real ending. It's great fun while it lasts, but generally you won't play through each level more than a few times and you're left wondering why this type of control didn't make it into Twilight Princess itself.
It wouldn't be surprising if this game actually evolved out of a technical demo spawned when the development team was playing with the Zelda engine and the Wiimote. Not that it's a bad thing, it's just lucky it's being released as a bundle title, else no-one would stand for its simplicity.
Nintendo have of course “polished” this tech demo into a neat little package, it's obviously running on the Zelda engine and therefore looks pretty much identical to Twilight Princess. Familiar music and sound bites are always welcome, it would have been nice if they had squeezed in a few more gameplay modes, difficulty levels or randomizing targets.
Link's Crossbow Training is a fun little title, which although feels like a Twilight Princess mini game, is probably, just about, worth its budget title price. Zelda fans will of course lap this one up, like any other Zelda title. If you're buying another Wii Zapper game, you should definitely pick this one up, if you're not perhaps you should re-consider as this game probably won't break the two session barrier.