Kameo: Elements Of Power is a title that’s managed to distance itself from its own release. Much like Perfect Dark ZeroKameo: Elements Of Power had a long-life in production. Wisps of play experiences came-and-went. Added to, removed and even simply remoulded with entirely different scenery. Having begun production earlier than the Perfect Dark prequel, Kameo: Elements Of Power was originally intended for launch before Conker’s Bad Fur Day on the Nintendo 64. Eventually it was delayed to the GameCube launch line-up, then to an undesignated point in 2004. That Rare sale and purchase resulted in the title belonging to the Microsoft stable.

A few years of delays later, and Kameo: Elements Of Power arrived alongside Perfect Dark Zero as part of the Xbox 360’s launch line-up. A rare treat from all the shooting and racing you’d have been experiencing at the time. Rare had followed on from their experience with the The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time engine on StarFox Adventures and created an adventure title which displays commitment to its heritage. The flow of Kameo: Elements Of Power is that of its inheritance. Temples and the gathering of Elemental Warriors, sequential puzzles and cutscenes. The generic set-pieces of Water Temple, Earth Temple etc. are a defining example of the title’s longevity of development. But sadly, this is for all the wrong reasons.

Kameo: Elements of Power screenshot

Kameo: Elements of Power – A Lesson Learned in Time

When production on the title began in the late ‘90’s, a series of puzzles, followed by a dungeon, followed by a new weapon on loop was the tradition for adventure titles and Action/RPGs. Even the then forthcoming The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess could rely on the excuse of tradition for such hand-holding. However, with the advent of two generations of videogames consoles, the structure is clearly too simplified for a recognised progression in the genre. In addition, the loop had been simplified further through the sporadic use of puzzles. One to enter each Temple, one in each Temple, boss fight, guardian fight. This results in an adventure title feeling short on the adventuring.

The Elemental Warriors that are gathered are the key, and the most inventive feature of the title. Although clearly inspired by the mask-morphing of The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, each Elemental Warrior has a charm all of its own. After beating each Guardian a new Elemental Warrior will be rescued. These can then be assigned to one of the face buttons. Pressing the designated button will morph Kameo into the specific Elemental Warrior, with each ability controlled with the LT Trigger and RT Trigger. They each have varying abilities used both for defeating enemies and progressing through puzzles.

New Elemental Warriors will generally be used until reaching a boss fight. Here, they will have to be used in harmony with another Elemental Warrior to bring victory. The Elemental Warriors add a nice spice to the point-to-point adventuring but are, at best, limited in their capability. In fact, some only require a very brief use before being laid-to-rest.

Kameo: Elements of Power screenshot

Kameo in Her Element

As progression is made, collecting Elemental Fruit will allow you to upgrade or purchase new abilities for your Elemental Warriors. A nice attempt at a distinctive levelling system but inevitably flawed due to the limited nature of the Elemental Warriors. The map design is intriguing – an expansive presentation not dissimilar to GUN in its execution. However, much like GUN, most of the map will remain unexplored upon completion simply due to its lack of necessity and, therefore, lack of gameplay elements.

When in the main Arena, Kameo will have a horse to bound around upon. Offering little character in the way of The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time’s Epona, but proving its relevance when faced with hundreds of marauding orcs of a rampage. The enemy variety is pleasing but stricken by the lack of areas featuring their placement. Allies are well-designed, but many remain lifeless, 2D representations of plot advancers or population simply for the sake of it.

Kameo: Elements of Power screenshot

Launch Day Blues

The graphical charm of the title was unparalleled on the Xbox 360 at launch. Although the title falls short of the beauty seen in releases such as Full Auto or Dead Or Alive 4, it’s very distinctive style made it stand out. The ability to render hundreds of real-time character models with some, at the time, quite stunning lighting effects pushed Kameo: Elements Of Power into the running for best looking Xbox 360 launch title. Of course, as the years went by the Xbox 360 was pushed to significantly greater heights. But even to this day it’s certainly not a bad looking game. The sound quality is pretty much adequate – competent but totally devoid of that usual Rare flare for soundtrack development.

With the title retaining some of the traditional Rare humour and in-gags, it’s very clear where the title has come from. Kameo: Elements Of Power kept Rare’s reputation on the right-side of UK development, just. It’s short duration and uninvolving representation will constantly leave fans thinking there should be much more. And yet it’s inviting nature will keep players attached-enough throughout till completion. Kameo: Elements Of Power is a far-cry from the engaging adventure we’d all been hoping for, yet it does remain an enjoyable experience to this day. Hopes are high that Rare’s forthcoming Everwild can recreate this sense of wonder. But perhaps add a little more gameplay into the mix?

Categories: Games