The player manipulates objects in the world in order to hunt for Elebits, using the Wii controller as a "capture gun" similar to the Zero-Point Energy Field Manipulator in Half-Life 2. As the majority of Elebits on a given level are hidden within or underneath objects, players must interact with the environment to reveal these hidden Elebits. Throughout the game, the Wii controller's motion-sensing abilities are gradually introduced. With selected objects, players turn, pull, and wave the Wii Remote to perform a variety of actions including opening a door (twisting the doorknob), pulling out drawers, turning on a faucet, tossing a variety of items, smashing vases against a wall, etc. Moving the Wii Remote without selecting an item rotates the player's camera-view, while the Nunchuk is used to move, duck, and stretch.
As more Elebits are collected during a given level, the area's energy is gradually restored. This causes dark rooms to become well-lit, and more importantly, allows various electrical appliances to be utilized. Once sufficient power is available, players can activate these appliances, such as computers, microwaves and electric toy-cars, which in return release Power-Elebits. Power-Elebits, when captured, slowly increase the strength of the "capture gun", allowing the player to lift and move heavier objects.
Some levels of the game feature additional conditions for successful completion. These include a limitation on how many breakable objects can be broken (i.e., a limit on property destruction), and/or a limitation on how much noise the player can make when interacting with the environment. Since Elebits themselves can cause objects to move or fall, players must be careful to take this into account when rousing them.
The mood of the Elebits, indicated by graphics above their heads, can affect how many watts the player earned when they are captured. Elebits that are happy or sleeping earn more watts than those that are angry or scared. Special power-up items can assist in taming the mood of the Elebits; one can put nearby Elebits to sleep, while another can help lure Elebits towards it. Other temporary power-ups are also available that can increase the power of the Capture Gun, muffle all sound, or enable auto-lock-on for the Capture Gun, among other effects.
Not all Elebits are captured easily. Some will move quickly or fly around, while others will attempt to attack the player, which damages the Capture Gun. In some cases, an Elebit must be thrown against an object or hit with an object as to stun it. If the Capture Gun takes too much damage, the level ends prematurely in failure.
After completing a level, the player is given a ranking based on the time it took to gain the required number of energy from Elebits, how much extra energy from Elebits they captured, the condition of the Capture Gun, and when part of the level requirements, how many times the player made too much noise, or when objects were broken. Achieving a high rank allows for players to use objects from that level within Edit mode.
Each level also features 3 pink Elebits that are hidden; the 3rd pink Elebit will not be revealed until certain conditions have been met. For each of these that are captured, additional game modes for that level are unlocked.
The game supports up to 4 players in multiplayer mode.
Elebits are living beings that contain a mysterious form of energy. They have lived in harmony with people for a very long time, and in modern times, the mysterious creatures have been the major source of electrical power for humans. One day there was a powerful lightning storm in Kai's home town. All the power has gone out, and the normally friendly Elebits have started to act strangely as well. The game's main character and protagonist is Kai, but Kai's parents, both researchers of Elebits, have left him at home as they determine the cause of the strange activities. Kai really wants to watch his favorite TV show, but he can't because of the power outage. He decides that it is the Elebits' fault, and he gets his Dad's Capture Gun. With the Capture Gun, Kai vows to capture all of the Elebits in the house.
When Kai heads to the living room he finds the Sea Elebit (first boss battle). After capturing it, he heads outside and realizes the entire town does not have power. Kai decides to do a little exploring outside to see what's wrong. When Kai heads back inside he sees that there is no gravity - even the Elebits are floating. He assumes it's the Elebits' fault. He goes to investigate further and heads into town where he eventually finds the Sky Elebit (second boss battle) which has the power to control gravity.
Shortly after Kai captures the Sky Elebit, he notices many Elebits heading to the amusement park. Kai follows them into the park to continue his search for Elebits. Eventually, he makes his way to a Christmas-like tree. The Land Elebit (third boss battle), who absorbs ornament-like Elebits on the tree, is there. After capturing the Land Elebit, Kai gets a phone call from his parents, and learns how to increase the power of his Capture Gun.
Kai goes deeper into the park to search for whatever made the Elebits go crazy. Kai finally discovers a new Elebit form, which he attempts to capture, but it unfortunately escapes and takes over the full-size mecha unit in the amusement park. Kai is able to use the Capture Gun to dismantle the robot and finally able to subdue the Elebit. At that time, Kai's parents arrive, and his father declares that the Elebit Kai just fought was a new one formed by the lightning strike at the start of the game; now that it's captured, it is quite tame. Kai, now over his fear of Elebits, keeps the new Elebit (which is called a Zero Elebit in the Elebit gallery) as a pet and happily returns home with his family.
The game has received the CESA Japan Game Award 2006: Future Award. It has also received the "Best Wii Action Game of 2006 "Wii Game with Most Innovative Design of 2006 and "Wii Game with Best Use of the Wii Remote of 2006" awards from IGN.