Secret Files: Tunguska Wii
Published by: Deep Silver
Developed by: Fusionsphere Systems
Release Date: 23/05/08
There have been quite a few PC adventure games that have found their way onto a console over the years. Some of these have been good efforts such as the GBA Broken Sword games but most just haven’t been as enjoyable or as comfortable to play on a console as they have been on a PC, primarily because of the differences in the control method. Putting an adventure game on the Wii is an entirely different story however. The Wii, with its rather unique control scheme, is far more versatile than traditional consoles and it’s quite possible to have an adventure game that plays just the same as it does on a PC. Secret Files: Tunguska for the Wii proves this point perfectly and is just as enjoyable on the console as the PC version.
In Secret Files: Tunguska you’ll play as Nina Kalenkov (and Max Gruber for a while), the daughter of a scientist at the local museum. At the beginning of the game Nina goes to visit her father at the museum only to find that he’s not there and his office has been ransacked. Naturally Nina is deeply concerned and begins to search for her father. On visiting his home she finds that too has been ransacked. Before long everything seems to point to her father being abducted. Nina does some checking and it appears that her father is being sought after because of his research on the Tunguska event that occurred on the 30th June 1908 where 6,000 square km of trees were suddenly felled. In real life the Tunguska event remains a mystery but in the game it appears that Vladimir Kalenkov (Nina’s father) has specialist knowledge. Those seeking to share that knowledge are certainly in no mood for a quiet chat though.
If you’ve played at least a handful of adventure games you’ll know that the quality of the puzzles you’ll have to solve can vary a great deal. Puzzles can range from being logic based to being downright nonsensical. I have absolutely no problem at all with the puzzles in Tunguska. Most of them can be solved by simply using common sense. Some solutions may seem a little out of the ordinary (such as the one that requires you to tape a mobile phone to a …) but there are no puzzles that ever feel disappointing or too bizarre. Very few puzzles actually require you to do a lot of back and forth journeys in order to solve them. This may not seem like a big thing but it can become very tedious when you’re constantly going back and forth in an attempt to solve a single puzzle and it’s great that Tunguska keeps this to a bare minimum.
What I really like about the Wii version of Tunguska is how intuitive it is. You can play the game either with or without the nunchuk attachment. If you have the nunchuk attached you can directly move Nina with the analogue stick. Without the nunchuk attached you’ll simply move the Wii remote shaped pointer to the position you want Nina to move to and press the A button (essentially replicating the point and click experience of the PC version). This Wii remote shaped pointer highlights what buttons can be pressed. You’ll see the A or B button turn green for instance when they can be pressed. You’ll also see small icons appear next to the pointer to show what actions will be performed by pressing one of the buttons (an eye icon shows that you can look at an object and a hand icon shows that an object can be interacted with). There is no need to search the screen, pixel by pixel, in an effort to find something that can be interacted with. Simply pressing the 1 button will bring up magnifying glass icons that will allow you to see at a glance what you can interact with in a location. Your inventory is bought up pressing either up or down on the direction pad. Rather than taking up the whole screen, your inventory appears at the bottom of the screen and you can scroll through it by pressing either left or right or the direction pad. The control system on the whole is very pleasing and no-one should have any real problems with it.
Unfortunately the rough edges that the original PC version had are still to be found in the Wii version, a game that arrives almost two years later. There are some translation errors that really should have been corrected. This means that at times, certain sentences seem a little strange. Spelling mistakes are also present too. It’s strange that Nina’s surname is sometimes Kalenkov and sometimes Kalenkow (her father is referred to as Kalenkow). At certain points in the game there is some profanity which just doesn't seem to fit in with the context of the dialogue being spoken. It’s as if those who were handling the English version threw the profanity in to the game for the hell of it because it’s so completely out of sync with what’s happening in the game.
You might think that the Wii version of Tunguska would look significantly poorer than the PC version but in actual fact the game looks pretty comparable. Obviously there is some loss in detail because the game ran at a screen resolution of 1024x768 on the PC and that’s just not possible on the Wii version. I’ve been playing the PC version again since the Wii version arrived for review (for comparison purposes) and there’s not a lot of difference in all honesty. The game looks as good on the Wii as you could hope for. If there’s one knock against the Wii version it’s that there are some minor loading times on occasion which break up the flow of the game. I must stress that these are minor and at times barely noticeable.
Deaf gamers won’t have any problem with Secret Files: Tunguska. Subtitles are offered and by default they are enabled. Both the dialogue for the cutscenes and the main game is subtitled. The subtitles don’t have any character portraits or names placed alongside the text. However, the text is colour-coded and it’s placed on the lower portion of the screen against a dark background so the text is always clear and easy to read. Notes are recorded in text and can be accessed at any time by accessing the diary.
Secret Files: Tunguska sets the standard for how a point and click adventure should be done on the Wii console. The controls and interface are probably as good as you could hope for and work really well. Other developers who are thinking of, or in the process of creating an adventure game for the Wii ought to take note of how well the controls in Tunguska work. I was disappointed to find the dodgy translations and ill-fitting profanity from the PC version has also found its way into the Wii version. When so much work has gone into the controls and interface you would have thought the translation issues that plagued the PC version would have been sorted out. Still at least there are times when the game is unintentionally funny because of these issues and it certainly doesn’t detract too much from the overall experience. If you’re looking for a point and click adventure game for your Wii console then Secret Files: Tunguska is definitely the game to go for.