But the old greats gave you something else too: genuine discovery and intelligent experimentation. There were those sudden realisations that item A now allowed you to reach that door you couldn’t reach before, or that if you tried ability B, you might be able to make it through that barrier that impeded your progress early on. Kameo’s biggest problem is that it holds back on exploration, and gives you very little room to experiment. Instead, you do exactly what you have to, and if you don’t know what to do, then the game practically rams the answer down your throat. Any sensible player will switch off Kameo’s intrusive in-game help within the first hour, or suffer the misery of a thousand patronising hints.
And you’re not really given much reason to explore. Zelda gives you a massive population of weirdos and oddballs and a host of strange little tasks you can do in the hope of gathering useful little bonus items. Metroid Prime gives you all the scanning and the secret item caches to discover. All Kameo dishes out are huts full of bugs and hundreds of people with only one not particularly interesting thing to say. As a result, no matter how beautiful this looks, Kameo never gives you the same sense of being in a real enchanted world. It’s as if Rare finished the drama, but never had time to flesh out the background scenery with life. Unlike Ocarina of Time, it all looks beautiful but feels oddly hollow.
The game fares better when it comes to the big set-pieces; the battleground sections where you suddenly find yourself in warfare on a Return of the King kind of scale, but even here the appeal is superficial. It’s fun to help your troops fire cannons at an attacking Troll warship, but it still feels like something that’s been shoehorned in-between the main adventure, and superfluous to the main cut and thrust of the action. The sight of elves and trolls fighting on such a massive scale is amazing, the boom and rumble of cannon fire thrilling, so why did Rare not tie it in better to the main game?
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