Developer(s) – Rare
Publisher(s) – Microsoft Game Studios
Designer – George Andreas
Kameo: Elements of Power is an adventure game developed by Rare, which was originally intended to actually be a launch title for the GameCube back in 2001. A screenshot of the GameCube game can actually be seen on the box for early GameCube consoles, alongside another cancelled title, Donkey Kong Racing. It was eventually re-imagined as the very first title announced for release on the Xbox 360 back in 2005. Though launch titles are for the most part hit and miss and this game has its flaws, I didn’t find Kameo anywhere near as bad as I thought I would.
Graphics – 6/10
Conceptually, the game reminded me very much of Spyro the Dragon; even the title logo is extremely similar. By that token, there’s not a great deal in the game to make it stand out to an exceptional extent, but there are a few elements, such as the multiple playable character design for example. In terms of visuals, the best thing that was achieved with this title was showing gamers what the Xbox 360 was capable of on a graphical scale; as indeed a launch title should. In particular, the water effects are very realistic-looking for the time, but gamers would be treated to better-looking games in the future.
Gameplay – 7/10
The game relies heavily on the player assigning different controllable creatures to different buttons on the controller, and using these creatures to access different areas in the game and for use in combat. There’s also a fair amount of emphasis put on things like adventure, puzzle solving and exploration. I found it to be moderately enjoyable to play. There’s a fair amount of variety to experience in the multiple playable characters to accumulate throughout the course of the game, which in a sense reminded me a lot of Skylanders; only six years earlier. There are also a fair few side quests throughout the game, which is always a plus.
The main problem I found with the controls was they were pretty stiff, and difficult to cope with at times. Movement, especially in combat, can feel like quite a chore, and it adds a lot of unnecessary complication to the game overall. Also, I can’t help but feel that the controls were stiff also hindered gameplay because there is lot to have to keep up with, since different characters had entirely different abilities, and by that token, the stiff controls took a lot of fluency out of the game too. But it is also interesting to understand how the game would have possibly worked better on the GameCube in terms of controls.
Lifespan – 5/10
In total, Kameo can take less than 10 hours to play, which is particularly underwhelming for a game, which puts a fair amount of emphasis on elements such as exploration and adventure. I couldn’t help but feel even more let down by this due to the fact that the game had been in development for so long, and Rare did have a fair amount of time to add more to it before it was released.
Storyline – 6/10
The story of Kameo involves it’s titular character, a shape shifting fairy, on an adventure to rescue the elemental ancestors and defeat the evil dark troll king Thorn. I found the story to be a little less generic than I first expected it would be. Although the basic premise has been repeated many times in video gaming as well as in other forms of media, there are a few twists and turns before the end; although I found one fairly major plot twist in particular to be coming virtually from the get-go.
Originality – 6/10
In terms of gameplay, it seems to vaguely serve as a precursor to the idea behind Skylanders’ style of gameplay. But in terms of things like visual concept and story, I don’t think it stands out even as good as other launch titles have done in the past. If it had been released on the GameCube, I think it will have had a tough time competing with Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem in particular, given how unique that game was and still is.
In summation, Kameo: Elements of Power does have it’s gameplay value, and did showcase the Xbox 360 graphical power very capably. For the generic-looking launch title it would appear to be on the surface, it’s actually not as bad a game as a player may expect it to be; especially for a Microsoft-published Rare title.