Rare’s take on an epic fantasy, Kameo: Elements of Power gives us a story of Elves and trolls, although interestingly, there are no humans in this world. I also quite like their take on Trolls. While they’re still brutish and strong, they’re not done so in the typical “dumb” way, instead they focus on science and technology, creating impressive weaponary for you to fight.
The elves are also not typical elves, and seem more like fairies, due to having wings. Wings won’t help Kameo jump over large gaps, but do allow for very fast movement, allowing areas to feel large without it taking too long to get anywhere. Each area you visit also has interesting creatures living there, it’s surprisingly quite a fascinating world.
The story itself isn’t as unique, though, and is fairly predictable. Kameo’s sister turns evil due to jealousy, wakes up the baddest trolland kidnaps their family. It’s very cheesy, especially one character used for a sequel bait twist near the end who practically announced that they’re secretly evil the first time you meet them, but still charming enough to be serviceable.
The main feature of Kameo: Elements of Power are the Elemental Warriors. These are spirits of creatures in various forms of Rock, Fire, Ice, Water and Plant, with two for each type. Each one has a fantastic design and they all feel very different to play, with their own moveset. You can upgrade each one using elemental fruit hidden throughout the lands (and are often rewards for side-quests).
While this is structured similar to a Zelda game: a hub area, village area with quests and then a dungeon ending in a boss, there’s a lot more focus on combat and navigating the world. In combat, you earn points for dispatching enemies quickly, and you’ll need to learn which Warriors are effective at dispatching what enemies – some need a certain element to combat them. There’s a wide array of enemies, all of which are very easy to identify, so you can quickly analyse a situation and choose which warriors you need. You change into these with the B, Y and X buttons.
My only issue with this setup is that it means you’ll be changing warriors a lot. There’s a quick select option if you hold down one of the buttons, but because it doesn’t pause or slow down the game, it’s useless in combat. The way forward is also very strict, you always need a specific Elemental Warrior to progress. Unfortunately, the game rarely allows you to experiment outside of combat. I also wish that some of them were utilised more, as a couple such a Rubble (a heap of rocks that can fire bits of itself), Flex (a stretchy water creature which is a hookshot with limited grapple points) and 40 Below (a menacing ice creature riding a giant snowball) aren’t used much outside of their initial areas.
This is especially true for the final section, which focuses mainly on a couple of these creatures. I feel like each needed its own “power moment” to celebrate them all at the end. There could also have been a few more combinations of utilising different powers. Even with this, you do get a bit of leeway in fights and can experiment a bit more there.
Between each dungeon, you’ll encounter large battles in the Badlands, where the trolls are trying to destroy the shrines protecting your kingdom. The scale of these battles is impressive, with hundreds of elves and trolls doing battle. Even now, the amount of creatures on-screen is an impressive sight. As the main bulk of trolls are focused on your elf army, you can still zip around to where you’re needed the most and concentrate on the important part of the fight.
Accompanying you on this journey is a mystical wizard in a tome called the “Wotnot Book”, this game’s Navi. My advice for this is to go into the options straight away and turn him off, as he’ll constantly be giving you advice and nagging you to talk to him, although he does get some entertaining lines in the cutscenes.
The music in Kameo is also amazing. It’s Rare’s first orchestrated soundtrack and it features epic sounding tunes with strong instruments and choirs. It makes each moment feel epic.
While Kameo: Elements of Power has its problems – mainly not letting you experiment more with the Warriors – it’s still a great fantasy game, one that probably gets overlooked these days. It will never happen, but I would love to see a sequel with more refined…elements.