It's not uncommon for a developer to come to the ONM office and give us a little pitch before showing us a preview version of their latest game. You know the sort of thing: "with this game we were going for a sort of Super Mario Galaxy meets Ninjabread Man vibe". We can safely say though that the member of Sproing Interactive who came to the office to introduce Cursed Mountain gave us the most impassioned introduction we've ever had. He spoke to us for 45 minutes about the history of Buddhism, its principles and beliefs. It may not have been completely necessary but it confirmed to us one thing: these guys know their stuff.
Cursed Mountain is an adventure game with survival horror elements set in the Himalayas. You play as a climber who sets out to scale a huge mountain in order to try and find his missing brother. As he climbs the mountain, he finds himself caught up in an ancient curse and ends up fighting for his life against all sorts of ghosts and demons.
The idea is that these ghosts are the spirits of climbers and monks who have died in the region but are stuck in limbo, wandering throughout the Shadow World. At times during the game these ghosts will appear visible to you and you'll have to defeat them by making special prayer gestures with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. Different motions have different attack and defence actions, so you need to learn which work best against certain types of spirit.
There are a few nice touches which make Cursed Mountain stand out, other than its unique location. Despite the fact that it's at a really early stage and the chap from Sproing kept apologising for the quality of the graphics, we thought the game was already looking visually impressive. We were also told that since the game takes place on one large mountain it was designed in a way that the player could always see the rest of the game world on every stage.
From the very start of the game, you can look right up and see the highest tip of the mountain miles above you, and as you near the end of the game you can look back at certain times and see all the areas and temples you previously visited below you. It's a nice touch: technically, when you reach the last level, you should be able to look down and see where you started off hours ago.
There are also some nice set-pieces included
in the game which make full use of the Wii's abilities. At one point you find yourself trapped in a cave, where you find a walkie talkie. When you pick it up, a voice starts talking to you through the Remote's speakers, as if you were actually holding the walkie talkie, and guides you through the cave.
The game's also set in the '80s, which we were told was a deliberate move by the developers to avoid the inevitable "why doesn't he just call someone on his mobile" questions that would no doubt spring up. With limited technology available, this certainly won't be an easy adventure.
Cursed Mountain has a lot of potential. It's still at a very early stage but it's clear that there's nothing like this on the Wii and we're excited to see what happens with it.