Of all the Operation Rainfall games, Pandora's Tower seemed the least likely to actually come out in the U.S. The Last Story had Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi behind it, while Xenoblade Chronicles had the benefit of extremely strong buzz. Pandora's Tower was a quirky action game developed by a mostly unknown studio in which the hero saved a girl from a curse by feeding her monster flesh.
All three eventually made it out in the U.S., though Pandora's Tower had to be rescued from the abyss by XSEED after Nintendo declined to localize it. But of them all, Pandora's Tower is the one that's getting released on the Wii U's digital download service first. That's... odd... considering the pedigree of the other Operation Rainfall games. That said, Pandora's Tower is potentially worth your time.
As I mentioned earlier, Pandora's Tower is an action game in which the goal is to keep a sick girl from turning into a monster by feeding her beast flesh. To accomplish this goal, the hero Aeron has to ascend multiple towers to defeat the nightmarish bosses waiting at the top, then get back to his girlfriend before she turns into a terrifying mutant. As game concepts go, Pandora's Tower certainly has the benefit of being interesting, and there's real tension in completing each mission before time is up.
It's also quite pretty for a Wii game. Pandora's Tower pushes the old hardware to its limits, matching large bosses with a wide variety of environments. Being in standard definition is definitely a drag, but it makes up for it with some excellent anime-inspired art.
The combat is one more example of a developer trying to put the Wii's motion controls to good use; and for the most part, it does a pretty good job. In his review of Pandora's Tower, Eurogamer's Matt Edwards wrote, "While tight and responsive, the melee combat is nowhere near as sophisticated as the current cream of the combo crop. Thankfully, Pandora's Tower is anything but a one-trick pony. By furnishing Aeron with the magical Oraclos Chain rather than a traditional shield, you can aim the onscreen crosshairs to bind an enemy's legs before twirling them around like a wrecking ball, as well as tethering two beasts together to restrict their movement while damaging them simultaneously. You can even pay your respects to Hylian technology by using the Chain Shot to harpoon airborne opponents out of the sky."
Of course, if you're not a big fan of the Wii Remote, you can always use the Classic Controller. But in this case, the Wii Remote plus Nunchuk configuration is probably the best way to go.
Pandora's Tower launched in early 2012 and was soon forgotten, victim of a by-then badly outdated console and comparatively little hype. Its good but not amazing reviews weren't enough to spur any real word of mouth, and so it seemed consigned to be the other Operation Rainfall game - the game that would linger in the shadow of Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story. But with its unexpected release on the Wii, that is no longer quite the case.
To be sure, it's a strange pick for the eShop in light of the absence of arguably superior games like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the original Super Mario Galaxy, or Xenoblade Chronicles. But neither it is an entirely unworthy one. If you're tired of the usual gaming fare and you're looking for something a little different, give Pandora's Tower a shot. It will potentially be $20 well spent.