One of the “understood” things about the Wii is how games work on the system. If it’s (by and large) Nintendo published such as the Wii Whatever series, or a dance game, then it’s never going down in price.

Everything else? Just wait a few weeks.

That’s just the way it has always been for the Wii. It doesn’t matter if the game is chock full of features, makes intelligent use of motion (or regular) control, or is just an outstandingly fun title on its own merits, it becomes bargain bin fare in less than six months.

Deadly Creatures, released in THQ in 2009, is one of those titles. And it’s a shame too, as it really was a unique, well done title. But it had two stumbling blocks right out of the gate: Little to no external word of mouth, and I don’t think people could wrap their head around the subject matter.

Arachnids are creepy. Let’s just get that out of the way. They’ve been around for millions of years, and they haven’t gotten any cuter. So when the game asks that players step into the many legs of these creatures, a lot of squeamish gamers said “No thanks”.

The story was minimal, but well interwoven, and strangely engrossing. The scorpion and spider each have their own paths to follow in their day to day lives, and just happen to coincide upon two mercenary treasure hunters (a surprising pair of castings by Billy Bob Thornton and the late Dennis Hopper). How Rainbow Studios got those two actors to perform in this game must be an intriguing story in itself. While this is truly an exciting day for both creatures, it doesn’t feel like a video game driven plot. It feels like a great number of farily natural circumstances that lead them to the end.

And that journey truly is part of the fun. Seeing the world from the creatures’ perspectives comes up with some genuinely inspired and creepy level designs, beautiful animation, and detailed landscapes. Everyday objects take on an ominous life of their own, and again, nothing feels forced or contrived. Busy, yes, but not unrealistic. What also makes the experience are the excellent ambient sound effects. Everything just sounds great. From the natural noises to the cinematic soundtrack. It’s great work.

Even the controls are intelligent and make sense. The gestures actually correspond with the movements and don’t feel like mindless flailings. Even the item fetching doesn’t feel contrived. And conceptually, it’s so original in a world full of FPS war sims and numerous dance titles and mini-games. Nothing like it has come out since, and it was a bold move for Rainbow to try something so different in what I hoped would be for the norm for the Wii: Unique, original, and exclusive experiences.

That’s not to say that there aren’t issues with the title. For one, there are a few camera problems. They aren’t frequent, but the player can’t help but notice them. Also, towards the last two levels, you an tell the developers were trying to get the game out the door. The final two levels just lack a certain polish. Graphical glitches pop up a little more as well as broken seams in the world. The last “boss battle” is laughably contrived, taking some of the realism out of the game. One attack is enough. But three? Come on, now. And the ending is some of the worst compressed FMV outside of a Sega CD title. And try as one may, if the player is arachnophobic, this game isn’t going to help matters. I won’t say much, but there is a scene with a nest of black widows that had me squirming in my seat at the possibilities.

But that in itself is part of the fun, and a testament to the overall realism that game strives to achieve for 85-90% of the game. What the game does pull off in terms of being original makes it a worthwhile playing experience. The developers tried something genuinely different, and definitely succeeded in that regard.

It was “unique” experiences like this that made the Wii stand out, and even if not for Deadly Creatures, I wish the Wii had found a greater independent voice through titles like this instead of the endless sea of Wii Sports wannabes that plagued the system. And the saddest part is, I don’t know if we’ll see something this original come out from a major publisher again for a long, long time. I doubt that we’ll ever see a sequel or a remake.

The game is cheap enough to warrant a second look, especially with the Wii drought that’s been in full effect for well over a year now. Perhaps that’s a whole article or discussion in itself of trying to find and highlight the “good, but lost” Wii games.

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Filed under: retro reviewwii gaming