Pandora's Tower Unexpectedly Returns Courtesy of the Wii U eShop

Revisit this odd but interesting action game on the Wii U.

Article by Kat Bailey, .

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.

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Comments 8

  • Avatar for link6616 #1 link6616 2 years ago
    It's a really lovely game. I hope more people get a chance to give it a whirl. That's what I love best about these DL services for older games though. They give a you a chance to notice things you missed first time round.
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  • Avatar for jeffcorry #2 jeffcorry 2 years ago
    I haven't made it very far in this game, but I find the premise quite fascinating. I really enjoy the mood around the game and its story. I also enjoy the quick paced combat. It's definitely worth a go.
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  • Avatar for Exhuminator #3 Exhuminator 2 years ago
    Hopefully the show stopping glitches have been patched up for this release.
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  • Avatar for Captain-Gonru #4 Captain-Gonru 2 years ago
    I really enjoyed this one. I had been more hyped for Last Story, but this ended up getting played more.
    Speaking of which, I need to go back and play more Last Story. And the nineteen million other games in my backlog.
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  • Avatar for hawseow #5 hawseow 2 years ago
    Disclaimer: I haven't played/completed most of the games mentioned in the article or the comments (e.g. SMG1, Xenoblade etc.) but I did play Pandora's Tower early last year so I won't be comparing this game to any of them.

    I've yet to revisit the game after completing it once but I'll say the game does wonderfully in almost every aspect it touches:

    - Combat isn't overly complicated but is sufficiently tactical and satisfying to utilize. I used the nunchuk & wiimote-plus control scheme throughout my playthrough.

    - Each tower had a theme (fire, plant etc.) and did well to elaborate on them in the level design. It also makes me want to give a shout-out to Belmont's Revenge on the Gameboy :)

    - Said towers also featured interesting level design which are essentially puzzles impeding your navigation which is pitted against the clock (you do have to play against a timer of sorts which affects the ending you get). I liked the tension that ensues as you managed your time, I can understand if some people dislike it though.

    - Bosses were fun to fight and the endboss was satisfying to beat despite frustrating me for a while (it's tough IMO)

    - Personally I thought the game achieved it's objective of having me caring for/taking pity on Elena in a way that evoked more of an agape love. She definitely brought out emotions in me which is a good thing.

    In short, it's sort of like a really good 3D Castlevania. Watch some videos if you must to get an idea. It was definitely a fun and interesting experience for me :)
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  • Avatar for Captain-Gonru #6 Captain-Gonru 2 years ago
    @hawseow I hadn't thought of the Castlevania similarities until you mentioned them, but it's spot-on.
    And the Wiimote+nunchuk is totally the way to go. Like Pikmin 3, you CAN use a more "traditional" control scheme, but the game seems like it was designed with the Wii mote in mind. (Yes, I know Pikmin 1 was on GameCube, and thus predates the Wiimote. It doesn't mean I still can't PREFER the Wiimote over a regular controller in this instance).
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  • Avatar for Toelkki #7 Toelkki 2 years ago
    I decided to continue the game from where I stopped last time (at most 10 minutes of actual gameplay from the start) and beat the first boss. Now I look forward to getting into the second tower, but not today. And I'll be playing with the Wiimote + Nunchuk.
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  • Avatar for docexe #8 docexe 2 years ago
    I was very intrigued by this game. The storyline and premise sounded very interesting and the gameplay indeed reminded me of a 3D Castlevania (just hopefully done right this time). Unfortunately I never managed to get a copy because my budget for games is limited and it just never went down enough in price. Eventually all copies I had seen in the wild just... disappeared.

    Because of that, I’m really glad that they are releasing it on the e-shop. It’s the perfect chance to finally play it.
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