I would know. I saw one of their rage-filled, 1-out-of-10 reviews as I was looking up images for this blog post.
#1. What dungeon? The only thing close to a dungeon in Stonekeep from the first game was the sewer. Unless you're talking about the various places BELOW Stonekeep, which, you know, aren't Stonekeep.
#2. How did we get to the dungeon? Did we just waltz through the other parts of Stonekeep before this point?
#3. What evil force? Is it the Shadow King from the first game Khull Khuum? (Spoiler: ha, no)
#4. "Driven out most of the former residents?" That sounds about as threatening as a cranky 70-year old landlord. This evil force can't get rid of and/or kill everyone/anyone?
#5. What clans?
#6. Souls of the dead? I thought the resident were "driven out." This becomes even more unclear later on.
#7. Pick an ally? Why just one? In the original Stonekeep up to three other people could tag along. This becomes even more appalling later on.
#8. This plot is go generic and nondescript that I can summarize it in two sentences without leaving out any major details: Evil is attacking your home. Find a random person to help you do something about it.
So now it's time to actually play the game and, instead of taking the role of a particular character like Drake in the original, Bones of the Ancestors offers two generic-looking character models with their only significant differences being name and gender. One is named Marcus, the other is named Sheena. Which one do you think I picked?
Now the journey begins with standing in a room with three doors, each leading to a different ally. Before I could even do this, though, I was instantly baffled by the design of the game itself. For one, the interface is horrible. The bottom quarter of the screen is blocked by a massive gray slab with a huge compass wedged in the middle, which is useless thanks to the map function. On either side are a red and blue canteen-like thing which are supposed to display health and mana. Had I not accidentally looked down by tilting the Wiimote and nunchuk forward (...) I wouldn't have known my character had a sword in her hand.
Even worse were the controls. It's strange to say this about a game released so many years after the Wii launched, but this is easily the worst-controlling Wii game I've ever played (yes, worse than Escape from Bug Island), largely because it's awful on both possible fronts. Not only is the responsiveness of the controls sluggish or at times nonexistent, but the control scheme itself is like something thought up by a seven-year old. Or a bunch of forty-year old men who are trying way too hard to seem edgy.
Want examples? Oh don't worry, there are plenty of bullets left in this magazine.
The simple act of moving is a chore, with every turn feeling less like a person walking down a hallway and more like driving an 18-wheeler through a slalom course. Oh, quick turns aren't like that, though. Quick turns are in fact so quick that there is no animation for them; your character goes from facing one direction to another in a single frame.
But let's say you want to attack something. Good for you! You might try doing the obvious thing and swing the Wiimote to absolutely no effect, as well as hitting every button to no avail (except for discovering jumping and the map). What you have to do is hold A, swing the Wiimote up, then release A while bringing it down, or doing the same thing from side to side. This causes an attack that's delayed by almost half-a-second and, sometimes, will glitch on the upswing and not complete its animation, resulting in no attack at all and likely getting you hit by whatever is attacking you.
Spells are even worse. Each spell involves some combination of holding a D-pad button, aiming it up, down, or at the screen, and performing some kind of motion. Some require aiming at the screen and doing a "rainbow" motion. Others require aiming at the floor and making a clockwise circle. Throwing objects require holding B and either slinging the Wiimote, making a lasso, or doing some other movements which register about 60% of the time.
And I'm rambling now so here's a picture to break up the monotony.
But what about choosing an ally you say? Well, you open one of three doors, walk up to them, and teleport to somewhere else entirely, which still looks like the same old generic dark dungeon. The thing is, you're actually choosing an ally the moment you open a door, so if you can't see the small, crudely-drawn picture on the door showing which ally it is, you're stuck with whichever door you accidentally open first.
Then the game becomes outright insulting to my intelligence:
After that the ally says you have to strike him/her five times before he/she can strike you once. After getting hit about eight times I hit five non-consecutive slashes and completed the objective. Wow, we've got a winner here folks!
I got what is supposed to be a Sharga as an ally. I say "supposed to be" because it looks like someone took the Shargas from the original game, dressed them up like medieval Christmas elves, and made sure they were constantly stoned out of their minds.
Speaking of, the enemies in SK:BotA (I am not typing out all of that again) are shockingly stupid. Most of them are skeletons that either have swords, swords and shields, or rocks/spears to throw. The ones with melee weapons slowly walk up to you and attack at the rate of roughly one sword or axe swing every three seconds, leaving lots of time to attack even with the botchy control scheme. If one enemy of a group is attacking you, the other one will either attempt to use magic, throw things or, if it's another melee monster, wander around wondering what it's supposed to do. Hell, even the allies will do the latter at times.
But not to worry, because if you do take damage there are healing potions and mana potions aplenty all over the map. You can only carry about ten of each, and the game helpfully reminds you of this every damn time you step over one of them when your inventory is full. It does the same thing for when you pass by a door you don't have a key for yet, so the game will almost constantly be treating you like this is not only the first game you have ever played, but that it's the first game you have ever played every second you spend playing it.
Oh, and by "inventory" I don't mean "collection of items you can use," I mean "items you have which the game uses and you have no control over." Health and mana potions are used automatically when the bar/lantern/jug/thing runs out, and keys are used automatically when near the right door. The player doesn't even have control over things like equipment, as the hammer and sword are used according to different Wiimote motions and magically change in the player's hand when switching.
As if my intelligence hasn't already been insulted enough, I got one key which unlocked a door leading to a room with nothing but a treasure chest in it. In the treasure chest was another key. Did I get a Wiiware title or a bullshit point-and-click Flash game?
Even the act of saving the game is horrendous. Save points are little circles on the floor that look like teleporters from a Looney Tunes cartoon. You step on them, the game saves. It's simple, but that's the problem. It's actually too simple. There are no multiple save slots, so you're running only one game at a time. And if you accidentally hit a save point when you didn't want to, which is incredibly easy to do as they're sometimes in the middle of a narrow hallway, well...
Maybe I should clarify a bit: things do technically change in this game. The levels do technically look different and the enemies aren't technically all the same... technically. However, they're all so dull, monotonous, and ultimately similar to each other that their appearance is virtually the only difference between all of them. The second level has brick walls and the same pictures of ponies (what?) showing up, but that's just about the only thing separating it from the first level. The dwarves look like dwarves and sometimes have different weapons, but they still attack in similar patterns to all the skeletons from earlier. BotA is simply blandness piled on top of blandness.
But that's not what ultimately drove me over the edge. No. Take a look at this quote from Interplay's website about this game from some time ago: