|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: NanaOn-Sha||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Majesco||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 2, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
From developers NanaOn-Sha (PaRappa the Rapper) and artist Rodney Greenblat comes one of the oddest rhythm games to ever appear on a home console. Major Minor's Majestic March has been in development for quite some time now, and it's finally hitting stores shelves. Was it worth the wait?
Majestic March is a kid-friendly game of the Noggin/Nick Jr. kind that follows Major Minor and his Teddy bear friend, Tom, as they take a pied-piper's journey along the countryside. With the aid of his talking baton, GGGG, Major Minor recruits musicians to his cause, but this is one game that marches to the beat of a very different drum.
Minor's tale is told by way of a series of beautiful cutscenes illustrated by Greenblat. The narration is expertly delivered, and the entire presentation of Majestic March is quite lovely. It's when you actually dive into the gameplay, though, that things begin to go awry.
The first order of business is a short selection of tutorials, which do a somewhat poor job of explaining the proper way to execute commands. Additionally, there are elements of the game, such as power-ups and tempo changes, that aren't covered during the tutorial phase.
The basic gist of gameplay is this: You hold the Wii Remote (the Nunchuk is not used for this game) upright, with the A button facing you. As you march along an on-rails path, you'll need to maintain an up-and-down marching motion with your baton, thrusting the controller forward, in rhythm, in order to enlist musicians and collect power-ups along the way.
Sounds simple enough, right? It is actually a fairly straightforward premise, but gestures are consistently misread or not recognized at all, and changing the tempo, in order to please GGGG and the rest of the band, is like trying to stop a freight train on a dime.
Upon starting a tune, it will be up to you to set the tempo. You do this by simply motioning up and down with the controller, attempting to keep a steady rhythm. Once you've got the tempo where you want it, just press the A button to begin the march. You'll have to keep the band happy by finding a medium tempo that's neither too fast nor too slow for certain band members.
After each song, you'll be asked whose performance you enjoyed the most, and this seems to be the game's way of setting up an optimum rhythm for your taste. It's a good mechanic, but again, speeding up or slowing down the tempo mid-march is difficult and usually results in sliding out of rhythm to the point of failing the level. When we last previewed Majestic March sometime last year, failing to keep a good tempo merely sent you back a bit to an earlier part of the level. In the final product, however, you simply fail the level altogether and have to restart from the beginning.
In addition to picking up new band members along the way, you'll also pass power-ups, such as jelly beans and whistles. Jelly beans get the band in a jolly mood, which will help keep them in line if they're either too bored with a slow tempo or tuckered by a fast one. Picking up whistles is supposed to help you keep the band together when encountering various intersections; throughout each level the game provides short pit stops for you to relax your arm. Unfortunately, the game never explains to you what all these power-ups actually do, and players will be forced to experiment. That can be problematic, since not all items (or band members) along the roadside are helpful to maintaining a good march.