The early years of the Wii’s lifespan were troubling. Despite sales of the console being really strong, thanks in part to its casual-heavy focus, the library was still kind of embarrassing in quality. Nintendo was hitting a slump when its steady flow of game releases dried up two years into the console’s lifespan, culminating in a rather disappointing E3 2008 showing. Fortunately, there was always the support of Capcom as a third-party, releasing high-quality ports of games like Okami and new titles like Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure.
Both of these were fantastic releases for the Wii, making good use of the Wiimote functionality. Okami performed alright on the console and gained an impressive cult following, even to the point of a sequel on the DS. However, Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure never saw the same success.
The game follows Zack, an ambitious pirate, and Wiki, his magical companion, and their adventures in the sky. During an encounter with Captain Rose, their rival in glory, Zack and Wiki discover a chest containing the skull of the legendary Captain Barbaros. He promises them riches beyond their imagination in exchange for collecting the remnants of his body, all of which are scattered through the lands. Curious and desperate for fame, the two accept Barbaros’ offer, and the adventure begins!
What made Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure so unique was the high quality of its point-and-click adventuring and puzzling. The game was as hard as a traditional point-and-click game, and it picked your brain with its constant puzzles and challenges. I’ll admit to resorting to online walkthroughs and videos frequently. And even then, I still died a lot.
Despite my overall enjoyment of this game, however, I was also really disappointed that it never received a sequel. After all, the game ended on a cliffhanger that practically begged for one, suggesting that there were more adventures that could be had with this duo. It wasn’t like the game’s formula and design couldn’t be replicated in a sequel, or perhaps even improved upon, so what happened? Why did the game never see another entry?
It mostly had to do with the timing of the game. Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure came out, like I said, during the early years of the Wii’s lifespan, back in 2007. Most third-party games at the time were ports of better games on other consoles, half-baked cash-ins on the party game phenomenon, or simply unfinished. This particular game happened to be one of the few outliers, yet because of the Wii’s reputation at the time, it inevitably wasn’t taken seriously.
It also didn’t help that the game was poorly advertised, as I never would have known it existed if I weren’t subscribed to Nintendo Power at the time. Put those factors together, and it’s no wonder why the game sold so poorly.
A financial crime
So yes, the game tanked financially. Yet while it’s not brought up frequently among Wii fans, I do still think the game is worthy of a second chance. Perhaps a port to the Switch is in order, maybe with added difficulty settings for those unfamiliar with it? Maybe even include a multiplayer mode, too? Or how about a sequel that takes full advantage of the Switch’s hardware?
I’m spitballing here, but I really do think that the game deserved much better than it got. It’s hard, yes, but it’s also a lot of fun. It’s colorful and contains a lot of well-timed humor, particularly during the boss fights. And I seriously think that in this day and age, what with Switch being a golden boy, that a game like this could actually sell well.
But what about you? Have you played Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure? And if so, did you like it? Let us know in the comments down below.