Review: A mere $20 or 10 rupees (the dollar is weak against the Hyrulian rupee).
Nintendo is on a massive rebound with the Wii and, in an effort to keep the interest of its remote-waving wonder diversified, it has revived the light gun. Today's Wii Zapper, like 1984's NES Zapper, comes bundled with a game to keep your trigger finger content. Although the included software isn't the next-generation Duck Hunt we were all hoping for initially, the fact that it's a Zelda-themed shooter makes this short, but affordable package a must have.
Link's Crossbow Training equips you with the crossbow of Zelda's protagonist and takes you on a shooting range tour through the lands of Greater Hyrule. In reality, you're just at home standing in front of your television set with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk inside of a plastic case that makes it look like a gun. The remote snaps into the front, while the Nunchuk is mounted on the back. The cord in between them is wound up inside the gun's case and out of sight. The Wii Zapper isn't fancy, but this two-handed configuration is easy to put together, comfortable enough to hold and, for once, isn't bright orange. No one's mistaking this light gun for an automatic weapon.
Score Attack is the main mode of Link's Crossbow Training, broken down into nine levels with three stages each. That amounts to a respectable 27 stages, however, most players will be able to finish them off in less than two hours. None last more than five minutes. In addition to being brief, levels boast a good deal of variety for those with short attention spans. The three stages in each level are made up of three different game types: Target Shooting, Defender and Ranger. As players shoot still targets, take out enemies on rails and hunt down enemies on foot, it's important to stay consistent with the crossbow no matter the game type. Consecutive shots lead to combos, and missing even one shot extinguishes your all-important score multiplayer.
Time is a factor in all of the stages, but the game emphasizes hitting targets consecutively and accurately, not shooting hastily. To its end, the Wii Zapper is fairly accurate and the Nunchuk's Z button allows you to zoom. The Ranger stages also use the Nunchuk's analog to move Link, as you hunt for enemies. Moving him back and forth and strafing with the joystick isn't a problem, but turning the crossbow's aim by pointing the Zapper off screen is cumbersome. As a result, the more straightforward Target Shooting and Defender stages are a little more enjoyable than the Ranger stages. They're fun, but are also somewhat frustrating when you're stuck facing a wall with your back to the enemy.
Simple, but effective twists are another factor that Link's Crossbow Training throws into every level. Blue X targets should be avoided at all costs when they pop up, while bonus targets are worth more than the normal red ones. Both are surprises that can greatly diminish or increase your score depending on how you handle them. When it comes to hitting the bonus targets, a good strategy is to aim for all of the red targets first to increase your multiplier, then to hit the more valuable bonus targets. Mathematically, you'll earn a higher score.
It's also wise to look out for destructible objects within the grounds of Hyrule. The scarecrows and clay pots aren't just part of the beautiful scenery taken from the environments of Twilight Princess. Sometimes stuffing them with arrows will nab you enough extra points to put your score over the top. Since medals are awarded for high scores, there's enough desire to replay these short levels again until you earn gold and, beyond that, until you find a way to earn the highest score possible.
Multiplayer and Practice modes make an appearance alongside Score Attack. These two options don't differ much from the main mode; the one-at-a-time Multiplayer allows four people to take turns, while the unnecessary Practice mode features the exact same stages as Score Attack, which just seems redundant. After you beat all 27 stages, you'll more than likely just stick to increasing your high score in Score Attack in between trying out other Wii Zapper titles: Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, Ghost Squad and Medal of Honor: Heroes 2.