|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|
Though we faced much disappointment with Major Minor's gameplay, we still found ourselves having a good bit of fun with it. The gesture commands were finicky, and adjusting the tempo was always a chore, but there was still something oddly mesmerizing about the whole experience. Keeping a good tempo had less to do with adhering to a song's rhythm than following the up-and-down motion of Major Minor's baton on the screen, but once you find the groove, marches can still be quite satisfying.
As you progress through a level, you'll often be given the opportunity to participate in a few, gesture-based micro-games. These are presented as marching band competitions in which you have to motion with the Wii Remote according to various onscreen cues. These breaks offer a simple diversion that make for a nice change during marches.
Unfortunately, what enjoyment is here to experience is appallingly brief. With only seven levels (though there are 20 different songs and multiple difficulty settings) to play through in single-player, we zipped through the game in about one hour. You'll earn points and medals based on your performance during levels, but they don't go toward unlocking anything extra. You can, however, unlock up to 30 different character profiles by recruiting characters throughout levels. There are a few multiplayer options as well, and they might actually prove to extend the life of the game for folks who can overcome the control issues of Major Minor. Even at $40 ($10 less than your typical retail Wii game), though, the package is extremely light on content.
That said, the game's production values are top-shelf. Some of the 3D texturing is less than stellar, but the art style is bursting with flavor. The colors are vibrant, and the artwork is extremely polished, as is the way the entire presentation is pieced together. It's unfortunate the game is mired in load screens, but at least they're relatively short. Each level has a distinct and attractive look to it, and if you take to the gameplay, chances are you'll enjoy replaying the levels on offer here.
Major Minor's crown jewel, though, is definitely its audio presentation. The sound and music are fantastic. The game is chocked full of big, bright and chunky sounds - even during loads - and the music is beautifully lighthearted, both in-game and during cutscenes. The game's audio is, of course, paramount here, and what's offered goes a long way to making the experience enjoyable overall.
The tunes during levels are comprised of a selection of marching oldies you've probably heard at some football game or pep rally. The cutscenes, however, are accompanied by a wonderful selection of acoustic pieces that do a great job of helping to tell the story of Major Minor's Majestic March. The stereo separation is brilliant, and all of the instruments cut through with great fidelity, even when your band has gotten quite big.
This is one of those games I'm loath to be critical of; it has so much going for it. The art style is beautiful, and the aural presentation is just out of this world - one of the best soundtracks on Wii so far. The gameplay, too, teeters on being very satisfying, but input recognition is all over the place. The game is obviously aimed at kids ages six to 10, and they'll likely struggle with it. We lament further because Majestic March seems to have been given an ample development cycle, and there's just no reason these problems should exist. Still, the game might be worth a rental if you were onboard from the beginning, but even its gorgeous presentation isn't enough to overcome the lack of content and poor controls.
CCC Freelance Writer