As with the first game, energy is a crucial missing component (hence the need to "harvest" the more mundane varieties of Elebits). Many doors, platforms, switches and abilities require electricity, and a constant meter keeps track of the wattage you have at your disposal. There are many different types of normal Elebits to capture, and each adds a different amount of wattage to your meter. And the act of capturing Elebits is extremely fun and addictive. When you flush Elebits out from their hiding spots, they'll start running away frantically. Whomping them with the stylus momentarily stuns them and triggers a countdown timer; tapping your Omega Elebit before the timer runs out will cause it to zip around collecting its incapacitated comrades and adding their energy to your pool. You'll get bonuses for swiping large numbers of the poor critters in one fell swoop.
Many aspects of the The Adventures of Kai and Zero make for a fun and compelling game, but the comparisons to Pokémon are unavoidable - both in its Game Boy Advance-style 2-D graphics and its emphasis on collecting cute creatures with cool powers. The main objective in exploring each world is to locate several new Omega Elebits scattered around the region. Not only will these critters provide enough juice to power the bus and warp to the next realm after you've clobbered the area's boss, they come in handy for overcoming new obstacles introduced in each map.
You can load up a total of five Omega Elebits at one time into an easy-access menu bar, and there are 40 to collect in the game in total (gotta catch 'em all). Rather than going overboard by presenting you with hundreds of these special creatures to seek out and capture, acquiring them is part of the natural progression of the story. They basically function as special items that follow you around like puppies. A quick tap of the stylus will let Kai switch spots with his currently equipped Omega Elebit buddy to trigger their special ability. You can also pump excess watts into your Omega Elebit posse to level them up and strengthen their powers. From burning shrub blockades, digging holes and breaking impassable rocks to revealing invisible platforms and warping back to the bus, the unique abilities of each companion comes into play frequently throughout the game.
The presentation of The Adventures of Kai and Zero may be slightly skewed towards a younger audience, but it's still a lengthy, challenging and satisfying adventure game. If you can look beyond its Pokémon-like qualities, you'll find it offers a little something to suit a wide range of tastes.
Bottom Line: Elebits on the DS dials down the visuals and ramps up the gameplay.
Recommendation: Buy it. It's time to get your capture on.
Nathan Meunier is afraid of what creatures might come out if he shook the stacks of games and rubbish piled around his desk.