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Kameo: Elements of Power

Score: 95%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Rare
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Of all the titles hitting the Xbox 360 at launch, Kameo: Elements of Power was one of my most anticipated, mostly because I’ve managed to see the game on nearly every platform it has been available on since it was first announced. And, after finally getting to spend time with the game, I can easily say that it was worth the wait.

After seeing Kameo on the Xbox a few years back, it is clear that the 360 version has really benefited from the power boost. The game isn’t as “realistically stunning” as Call of Duty 2 or Madden, but manages to have its own magical charm that really makes you like the game from the minute you turn it on. Every environment is stunning and teeming with tons of little details. Characters, even the smaller background ones, are detailed in a nice, fairytale style that brings the game to life. Even more impressive is the number of things that appear on screen at one time. There are times where you could see literally hundreds of enemies at once, adding an near-epic feel to some areas.

Audio isn’t nearly as impressive at the game’s visuals, but still manages to put on a good show. All of the characters are fully voiced and while some lines feel a little under delivered, the actors still manage to get the point across. Music, on the other hand, is great – even when heard in the confines of the game.


Kameo wastes no time in throwing you directly into action, giving you a crash course in how to use the game’s character transformation aspect. You begin the game by storming the castle of Thorn, the king of the trolls who has been awakened (by your jealous older sister no less) and kidnapped your family. As you would expect, the raid doesn’t go so well, resulting in the loss of all of your elemental powers, thus beginning Kameo’s quest to regain the power of 10 elemental warriors and free her family (as well as defeating Thorn and getting revenge on her sister).

Gameplay is a hybrid of action and puzzles, calling to mind something in the vein of Zelda. Areas are split up into large hubs that give way to smaller dungeons that you must explore in order to progress Kameo’s quest. In order to do so, you must first find elemental warriors – all of which have been taken over by Shadow Trolls. This makes for the first in the many challenges you’ll face, since each battle with a Shadow Troll is a puzzle in and of itself. Some are fairly easy once you learn what to do, while some of the later ones can become frustrating. Expect to turn the console off at least once or twice after a botched Shadow Troll battle.

Once you’ve recovered the elemental warriors, things aren’t smooth sailing. You also have a number of dungeons to deal with, each of which involves getting the most out of your warrior’s abilities – lending some pretty tricky puzzle elements to the game. To be honest, puzzles aren’t all THAT tricky, but they do require some thought and a whole lot of skill to complete. Boss fights also involve their own puzzle solving as defeating them isn’t as easy as morphing into a dragon and blasting away. Each encounter is very well crafted and will require you to experiment with all of your warrior’s abilities to find, and exploit, weaknesses.


Kameo isn’t overly hard, though it does contend with some rough spots. These mainly come later in the game when you tackle the larger dungeons, some of which include almost unfair odds. But, like nearly every encounter in the game, anything can be overcome with a little creative thinking and knowing how to get the most out of your warrior’s abilities. Some will even require you to quickly switch between two forms within a few seconds, so nimble fingers and fast thinking help as well.

If you ever find yourself stuck, which is a pretty rare place to find yourself in, a built-in hint system is always around to offer some advice. At least, that’s the point behind the system because it always seems to be at least three tasks behind at all times. Okay, so I may be exaggerating just a bit – but the advice is never timely and becomes more of a nagging nuisance than a helpful reminder.

Game Mechanics:

As is the case with most games where you’re offered different forms (or characters), it is tempting to find one and stick with it throughout the game. You’ll soon find out that this isn’t the best way to approach Kameo as you’ll need to use all of your warrior’s skills, most of the time in tandem with others. Each warrior comes with a set of three basic skills once you discover them. Later on, these skills can be upgraded by using special fruits you’ll find hidden in each hub level. Most fruit is easy to find, though some can be a little tricky and will take some searching (and puzzle solving). It is worth the effort though since the upgraded abilities and attributes go a long way in helping you overcome obstacles.

At first, Kameo can feel a little jarring, especially since the “proper” control tutorial takes place well after you’ve already learned how to play the game. Still, even after you’ve been shown the ins-and-outs of gameplay, the control setup can be a little confusing at times. Most of the issue lies with the placement of the transformation controls. Whereas most games would probably place them on the trigger buttons, requiring you to rotate between forms, all of the forms are instead mapped to the four face buttons, which are usually used for attacks and other “normal” functions. Attacks are instead mapped to the left and right triggers, which actually turns out to be a more comfortable method (especially when chaining together combos with Pummelweed) once you adjust your way of thinking. The only form this setup has any negative effect on is Kameo, whose only offensive attack is performed by pulling both triggers at once. However, you’re unlikely to use this attack anyway once you start to gain elemental warriors.

Given Kameo’s childish looks, it is likely that most “mature” gamers will overlook the game, instead going for the “older” looking 360 games. However, gamers who are able to overlook such ridiculous notions will find that Kameo is one of the top games in the Xbox 360’s launch and is an adventure that is well worth taking.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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