Like the DS, the Wii is practically made for classic point and click adventures, which makes it all the more surprising that nobody has really made a decent job of it before now. Sure, there have been a couple of quick PC ports where the remote simply takes over the job of the mouse, and I'm sure we'll see more of these mildly depressing efforts in the future. Zack and Wiki, however, is something else. It's a point and click adventure that really could only work on the Wii.
On the surface, fans of the Monkey Island series have particular reason to get excited, seeing as Zack and Wiki has a piracy theme - albeit a sort of weird fantasy spin on piracy that involves seaplanes and gangs of anthropomorphised rabbits. Here our hero is a youthful upstart, who - surviving an attack by rival pirates - falls on his feet when he discovers the skull of the legendary pirate, Barbaros. Surprisingly, the aforementioned head-bone is haunted by Barbaros' spirit, which promptly does a deal with Zack. Hunt down the remaining body parts and Barbaros will lead our hero to Treasure Island, from whence he can sail away in the ship of his dreams. Without a thought, Zack and his flying monkey sidekick, Wiki, agree.
This is where the game breaks away from your traditional graphic adventure. Instead of one long story broken down into chapters and locations, we get a series of levels, each one being a discrete and often complex puzzle scene. The big disappointment for seasoned point-and-clickers may be that the game shows precious little interest in plot or character, with little in the way of dialogue and only the barest sense of an unfolding story. You solve a scene, return to the Pirate HQ that works as a hub, then travel on to the next one. In Zack and Wiki, the puzzles are everything.
Still, it turns out this is a good thing, because the puzzles themselves are great. Not only are they surprisingly intricate for something that looks like a family-friendly game, but they make excellent use of the Wii remote. The trick isn't just what item you use and where and when you use it, but how you use it, with many actions mapped to particular movements of the motion-sensitive Wii remote.
You point and click to move Zack around, with Wiki following eveywhere he goes, and by pressing B you can scroll the view to see what's going on beyond the immediate area shown on-screen. Shaking the remote causes Zack to grab Wiki and shake him like a bell, which stuns creatures in the vicinity and also disperses hostile ghosts. As creatures turn into usable items, like a serpentine claw, a frog bomb or an arachnid tennis racket, you'll be using this peculiar talent quite a lot. You can click on items to pick them up - only one at a time, I'm afraid - then click on specific objects or areas on the screen in order to use them. And it's at this point that the Wii remote comes into its own.