Of all the games that make up the Xbox 360's launch line-up, Kameo held the most of this reviewer's confidence. The eloquence of its core transfiguration concept bore the hallmarks of Zelda-envy - hardly a bad thing - while its prolonged development gave rise to sights and sounds more spectacular and silken than many of its launch rivals. All it needed was a world worth exploring, and the sense to let you explore it.
Sultry hip-wiggling and dragonfly wings aside, Kameo's a pretty helpless elf, but with her transformation power she can adopt far more useful forms. The game starts off giving you a decent taste of these - a Sonic spinball for jumping between gaps and half-pipes, a Queensbury boxing plant to bash trolls, and a spiky gorilla for climbing walls and hurling enemies out of windows. Kameo's on a mission to save her family from her evil sister Kalus, who is in league with the nasty troll-king Thorn, so she's busy scaling a gloomy castle circled by cartoon dragons, and this environment is tailored to press each of her transformations' skills into service, at first individually and later in concert. But in the castle's highest tower, Kameo is set upon by Thorn, and her abilities cut away by his killer blow. When she wakes, she's back in her floating village home and unable to do much beyond wiggling around and admiring the swaying grass and wafting blossom.
To regain her initial abilities - and seven others - Kameo must gather the elemental sprites, each of which is held by a nasty shadow demon. These spindly black horrors are spread unevenly among the thematically diverse corners of the scarred game world below her kingdom-home, and to get to them she must solve basic puzzles in each, do battle with trolls, and then open gateways to the shadow realm, where she has to dispatch the increasingly evil identikit demon mini-bosses by drawing spiritual power from their minions and then lobbing it back in their faces the tried-and-trusted three or four times over. Along the way, she also has to save her kidnapped family from giant boss monsters, each of which demands a different mixture of transformations to overcome.