Review: Link’s Crossbow Training

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Link’s Crossbow Training is to the Wii what Duck Hunt was to the NES all those years ago. The similarities are so obvious. Like Duck Hunt before it, Link’s Crossbow Training is a target-shooting tech demo mainly created to showcase (and push) a new Nintendo peripheral, in this case the Wii Zapper. Thankfully it succeeds at being both a fun game and a handy accessory.

Running on the Twilight Princess engine and featuring familiar locales and enemies from Link’s full Wii adventure, Link’s Crossbow Training offers a light selection of nine stages and just shy of 30 total missions, each falling into three main categories: Target Shooting, Defender and Ranger. Target Shooting missions are your typical shooting gallery type stages, tasking you with shooting bull’s-eye targets as they pop up or scroll by. Defender missions, on the other hand, have you stuck in place circling around to spot and fend off waves of critters attacking Link from all sides (some of these can also be fixed-position and on-rails). Then there are the Ranger stages, which actually put you in full control of Link moving throughout 3D environments on the hunt for a specified number of enemies. There are even a couple of cool boss fights towards the end too.

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All three styles have a unique feel, challenging different aspects of your shooting dexterity in rapid-fire succession. I’ve also found the shooting mechanic itself to pack an extremely satisfying tactile sensation, both with the slight force feedback and the weighty “thwack!” that thumps out of the Wii Remote speaker with each shot. Simply put, firing off crossbow bolts just feels right.

Charging through the full assortment of stages only takes maybe two hours tops, even less if you’re able to complete the lot without failing and having to replay missions too many times. However, Link’s Crossbow Training, like any good target-shooting game, is all about competing with yourself and others (four-player turn-based play is supported) to achieve the highest scores possible for your own personal satisfaction and/or bragging rights, and in this respect the game excels brilliantly. Even after you’ve finished every mission, you’ll be pulled back in time and time again to try to beat your previous scores and medal ranks, so there’s plenty of replay value. I’ve easily spent at least a good 10 hours besting my records up to now, and that time count is only going up as the simple, fun, pick-up-and-play gameplay continues to draw me in for a few moments of casual entertainment in between more hardcore titles.

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As for the Wii Zapper the game comes packed with, it has a few weaknesses but is overall a solid accessory to have on hand. Sure, the Zapper is just a hunk of plastic molded in the shape of a gun to cradle the existing Wii Remote and Nunchuk, but for shooting games it does make aiming a lot more comfortable, especially over longer play sessions. There are some tradeoffs, though. So far, I’ve found that my accuracy when using the Zapper is better but my aiming speed slower. Also, in the case of the Ranger missions, the configuration of having the analog stick at the butt of the Zapper makes moving Link and aiming on screen rather awkward. Playing Ranger missions without the Zapper is far more comfortable.

The Zapper does prove more valuable with games like Medal of Honor Heroes 2, Ghost Squad and Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles, though, so if you own or plan on picking any of those up, it’s well worth adding to your Wii arsenal. And as a bundle, budget priced at a mere 20 bucks, Link’s Crossbow Training with the Wii Zapper is a deal too good to pass up and should be a part of every Wii owner’s collection.

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Pros:
+ Simple, no-frills gameplay is easy to get into, highly addictive and surprisingly rewarding
+ Good variety in mission types
+ Shooting has a very satisfying feel to it
+ Wii Zapper is a great accessory to have for shooting games overall

Cons:
– Wii Zapper a bit slower to aim and makes Ranger missions awkward to control
– More of a tech demo than a full game

Game Info:
Platform: Wii
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: EAD
Release Date: 11/19/07
Genre: Target Shooting
Players: 1-4 (turn-based)

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!