|System: Wii (WiiWare)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Legendo Ent.||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Legendo Ent.||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 27, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
It's been a while since the world saw a decent 2-D action-platformer, but into this void steps The Three Musketeers: One for All!, a WiiWare entry from indie developer Legendo. Loosely based on the classic tale by Alexandre Dumas, the storyline plays out as musketeer Porthos tries to rescue his two fellow musketeers (and another friend, D'Artagnan) from the evil Count Xavier. In many ways it's a clever and highly worthy game, and it's definitely worth a $9 download for hardcore fans of the genre, but unfortunately it has a few too many flaws to earn a ringing endorsement - casual platformer fans can skip this one.
With any action-platformer, the two biggest questions are: "How's the action?" and "How's the platforming?" As it so happens, those questions reveal the game's biggest problem and its greatest asset.
To be frank, the action is pretty much atrocious. For God knows what reason, the developers mapped the only attack, a sword swing, to a flick of the Wii-mote rather than to a button, and you can't change this. In addition to all the timing problems inherent to this approach, it's not very responsive. Sometimes you can swing your arm quite dramatically without Porthos doing the same, and this means you lose hearts and lives (the game's two ways of determining how much life you have left) unnecessarily.
Also, most of the enemies seem to have single-digit IQs; they move and attack in simple patterns, and sometimes they'll return to a standstill after you've smacked them with your sword. Typically, the idea is to hit, run away, turn around, and hit again, provided you have enough room to do so, which you don't always have. To be fair, the boss fights are a good deal more clever, and as you move through the game, new enemies are introduced and old ones arranged in ways that provide more of a challenge.
The platforming helps redeem the game from its dismal action performance. Jumping always feels precise, which is good, because you'll have to perfect some very tricky timing to avoid the various pits, protruding spikes, and falling blades. What's more, while your movements always take place on a 2D plane, the game world is presented in 3D, with a camera that occasionally switches perspectives. Also, from time to time you'll have to run around corners, or jump while viewing yourself from an odd angle. The game doesn't exactly reinvent the platforming wheel, but it does put some nice rims on it.
In addition to enemies and platforms, the level design incorporates a lot of puzzles, usually involving such standard fare as finding keys and pushing boxes around. Despite their essential simplicity, these can get complicated in a hurry. In one, you have to run so an archer can't hit you, climb a ladder, push a box back toward the archer, run away when the archer tries to shoot again, jump over the box, kill the archer, and then proceed to shove the box into a spike-filled ditch so you can (just barely) jump over.
All of this could add up to a very good game. If everything else is up to par, one can live with a few cheap hits due to unresponsive controls, after all. However, when those unresponsive controls are coupled with levels as long as those found here, we suspect a lot of gamers will give up before finishing the whole story, even though the game can easily be completed in less than six hours. For example, take the puzzle we described above. It happens right after a save point, but you have to deal with some rather extensive platforming challenges and a whole lot of enemies before you get to save again. Once we figured this out, we began restarting the game whenever we took damage from the archer; why keep going when we're already down a heart, especially knowing that soon enough, we'll be losing hearts we don't even deserve to? We also had to restart whenever we fell in the ditch with the spikes, because a fall costs you an entire life, and we were down to two. That's right; when your game is over, you re-start from your save point rather than getting a full set of new lives.