Are marching bands the next big trend in rhythm gaming? We'd guess no, but Major Minor's Majestic March is still the real deal. It’s an entire rhythm game focused on a marching band – but instead of playing an instrument controller or tapping buttons in time with a beat, you simply wave the Wii Remote like a bandleader's baton.
Constant, steady up and down movements keep the beat of your followers, and along the way, you can add members to your crew by flicking the Wii Remote in their direction on the screen. Maintaining a suitable tempo is important for keeping band members in line, and while power-ups can be nabbed to improve their moods, collecting the wrong icon can force you to drop band mates or temporarily muck up the sound.
Designed by the same core duo behind 1996's wildly influential PaRappa the Rapper, Majestic March maintains a similar aesthetic as its hip-hop predecessor, blending anthropomorphic creatures (Major Minor himself is a cat, while band mates include cacti and ladybugs) and simple, hand-drawn characters and environment designs. What was previously endearing now looks a bit odd in a modern 3D game engine, but the visuals aren't our major gripe – the music is.
It's not that we can't get behind the style of music – hey, we'll proudly march the hallways to "The Star Spangled Banner" any day of the week. But we would like it to be more fresh and memorable. The included medleys comprise parts of nearly two-dozen famous marching band songs (with multiple appearances from the likes of Sousa and Mozart), but as far as we can tell, the game includes just one original song. While you're sure to recognize parts of these enduring favorites, nothing here will stick in your head quite like "Chop Chop Master Onion's Rap."
Sadly, the rest of the experience fails to pick up the slack. The kid-safe, storybook-style narrative, which touches on themes like self-confidence and not littering, lacks interesting characters and scenarios, and the entire seven-stage game can be completed in less than 30 minutes. Multiple difficulty levels, anemic two-player modes, and a waggle-heavy drill formation minigame (in which some of the moves tend not to work) attempt to give Major Minor legs, but chances are you'll play through it a few times and forget about it. And even then, you'll barely be scratching the two-hour mark.
We'll give Major Minor's Majestic March credit for a creative concept, but this middling rhythm routine should have been a WiiWare release or half-priced budget title. And until the latter occurs, we can't help but think you'd be better off marching to your own beat.
Apr 6, 2009