Link's Crossbow Training Review: A Sharp Shooter
Link's Crossbow Training was a 2007 game released essentially as a tech demo of the Wii Zapper, which was a piece of plastic that made the Wii Remote and Nunchuck look a bit like a rifle. You don't remotely need the Zapper to play LCT, and although I've never used one, I suspect it's more comfortable played with loose controllers.
Given that it was made to advertise an apparently unnecessary peripheral and has largely been forgotten, you'd probably expect that LCT was just another piece of the Wii's famed shovelware. And at first look, LCT itself doesn't try very hard to dispel that idea. The crossbow is just about the only asset in the entire game that wasn't recycled from Twilight Princess, the whole game is about an hour long, and it didn't even bother pretending to have a story or any justification at all for why Link suddenly has a self-reloading crossbow.
But despite all that, it's a surprisingly fun game. It has 8 levels that each have 3 stages, which are typically a shooting gallery, turret sequence, and a free-roaming third person shooter. There are two boss fights, one against Dark Nut and the other a new form of Stallord, that use TP assets and locations but significantly change the boss' moveset. You technically can't fail a stage because there's no way to take damage and your score can't go negative, but you won't unlock the next level unless you earn a badge by scoring at least 20,000 points.
Doing that requires getting used to the game's scoring. Hitting different locations on a target or enemy can change your score, but that's insignificant compared to your combo multiplier for consecutive hits. Every hit scores for each consecutive hit before it, so your fifth hit scores five times and your ninth scores nine times. So sure, you'll get 30 points instead of 10 if you hit the target dead center, but if you can hit two 10 point shots in the same time it'd take you to get one 30, the combo chain quickly makes the lower point shots much more valuable.
Because the combo limit is uncapped, it also punishes mistakes incredibly harshly. You can get more than 20,000 points in one stage if you keep your combo up, but the same performance with a miss in the middle might only score 4,000. It's an easy to understand system, but it basically forces you to play slow and careful in what feels like it should be a faster game, and it means a run with much lower overall accuracy might have several times the score of a run with only a few misses at bad times.
Still, scoring complaints aside, LCT is a blast to play. It inherits the great enemy and world design of Twilight Princess, adds in a fun new crossbow, and then gives you two cool boss fights as a bonus. I'm not going to pretend it's the greatest ever Zelda game or anything, but it's far better than you'd expect from a throwaway tech demo, and it's absolutely worth hunting down.
Reviewed on: Wii
Purchase Price: $6 used
Time to finish: 1 hour for all bronze medals. Going for gold or platinum would take much longer.