Hands-on / Major Minor’s Majestic March

Get ready to hit those rim shots cause I’m about to drop a doozy of a bad joke. Ready? My hands on experience with Major Minor’s Majestic March probably should have been called an arms-on experience. Thank you, I’m here all week! Seriously, this game gave me more of an arm workout than Wii tennis and by the time my demo was done I was wondering if I really wanted to play any more levels, despite the game’s promising background of being developed by the same guys who did Parappa the Rapper. I’m not sure if any other game at E3 let me down so much as this one, not because it was bad but because I wanted it to be so much more. Then again I also have no ryhthm, so that might have attributed to some of my problems.

The player takes control of Major Minor as he leads a small band through town in order to, well, lead a small band through town. I’m sure there’s more story behind it but it really isn’t the important part here. Music and style are. As the band’s leader, the gamer is tasked with keeping the tempo to a series of classic marching band tunes while marching through the stylized world of Rodney Greenblat’s art design. Players do this by raising and lowering the Wii remote like a baton, and this keeps the band marching to the tempo. The player can control the speed of the marching, and the style, but they’ve got to keep it constantly moving. Later levels have you marching up and down hills so the tempo naturally slows as the marching becomes harder, and it’s the players job to pick it up or let it cool off. The Major (no word on how he got this rank) starts each level with one or two instruments playing and as he marches through town he passes other animals. A solid nod of the Wii remote towards the animal at the right moment brings them into the marching band, and as the band grows bigger, so does the score. To beat a level, the player needs to have collected a certain size band and certain animal musicians along the way.

Despite the far-too-easy-to-make-a-joke-about motions of my arm as I played, I was having fun with the game to a certain point. I found the motions to pick up new band members had problems registering and even when the nice man from Majesco was demonstrating for me he was missing here and there, and it was not from a lack of practice. The game still has a while until release so hopefully they’re still working out some of the control kinks as faulty motion detection could really be fatal. Otherwise, when the game was being demonstrated to me it looked like a blast. However, whenever I picked up the controller I had a lot of problems keeping the beat. I’ll attribute a lot of that to the noisy area I was in at the time. I really wish I could get my hands on the game in a quiet room without the plethora of distractions around me.

It’s hard to come down on a game when I’m not sure its flaws are with the scenario I played it in, or with the game itself. And it’s even tougher when the game’s design is so damn compelling. At first glance the levels and characters are abundantly childish with bright colors and happy faces but as you play, you notice the same weirdness that predominated Parappa and the style really grows on you. I am definitely reserving my judgement until I get more time with the game in a better setting, but as of right now I can’t help but feel a little let down by the good Major’s majestic marching.