WiiWare tends to get written off a little unfairly. Many don’t put it even close to being in the same league as Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network. Yes there are some really bad games on WiiWare, but the same is true for all these download services. I think Virtual Console has a huge hand in this. People see the releases each Monday, get mad that what they want wasn’t released, and often don’t take a chance on anything else. I’m here to say that there are a lot of good WiiWare games out there that deserve a look and yes, this is one of them.
Three Musketeers: One for All! is developed by Legendo and is one of the more pleasant surprises I’ve gotten out of WiiWare. You play as Porthos (of Three Musketeers fame, although sadly not portrayed by Oliver Platt here) and you are on a quest to rescue the other musketeers who have been kidnapped and sentenced for execution.
The game is done in the style of classic 2D platformers, although it definitely leans a little towards 2.5D. You go from left to right, avoiding obstacles and attacking enemies with a sword. There is the occasional puzzle to solve, but nothing that will stump you for more than a few seconds, which hey, is certainly not a complaint on my end. It’s classic design, but for the most part it’s done very well here.
The game controls using both the nunchuk and Wii remote, which at first does take some getting used to. I assumed by looking at the screenshots and videos that this would be controlled by holding the remote sideways but not so much. However once you play through a few levels, you get a feel for the controls and they are hardly an issue. It may have been nice to have the option to change your controller, but they are still fine in their present state, with maybe one exception.
The sword swings are controlled by physically swinging the Wii remote, which can often be the kiss of death for a Wii game. Here the controls are for the most part responsive. There were a few instances where I would swing the remote and nothing would happen, but thankfully they weren’t all that common. It takes some getting used to and you almost have to find a rhythm to the whole thing, but eventually it starts to become pretty natural. It certainly works a lot better than Indiana Jones for the Wii from a couple of months ago, which seemed like it was often ignoring you out of sheer spite.
Three Musketeers has a very unique look to it and I must say is quite visually impressive. I can’t even quite describe how the game looks....so let’s take a look at a screenshot.
That gives you a great idea, although it’s more impressive in motion. There are very few frame-rate hiccups and the whole experience runs smoothly. There are also some subtle animation touches that I enjoyed. For example: your character’s head appears in the top left corner of the screen. Throughout the game, that head makes motions that connect to the movements you are making. When you jump, the head bobs up and down, when you’re climbing a ladder, the head goes back and forth to the rhythm of the sounds it makes. It’s a cool little touch that shows some real effort went into this project.
There is a good deal of challenge to be had here. When you complete a level, the amount of lives and health you have carries forward to the next stage. So if you beat a level with say, only one life and one hit left, you best collect some more because that’s how you’re going to stay. Thankfully hearts and extra lives are quite plentiful so you don’t have to worry about this all too often. If you do lose all of your lives however, you will be treated to one of the most depressing Game Over screens I think I’ve seen in years. It shows Porthos, chained and depressed, being taken away to be executed along with his friends. You know there’s nothing that can be done now and that everyone is as good as dead. So that’s your motivation to succeed right there, otherwise you’re the cause of that!
The game is quite short, probably around 3-5 hours depending on how often you die. There is some replay value to be had in collecting all of the coins, and there are at least a few different endings, but chances are when you’ve beat the game you will put it away. I will say though that I believe it is fun enough to come back to down the road.
Issues aside (length, occasional waggle problems, and the boss battles are a little underwhelming, which I didn’t mention before) this was a fun game that I would recommend downloading. I mean it’s 9 dollars people and you easily get your money’s worth. So take those points that you were no doubt saving up for Sexy Poker, and put them towards something on WiiWare that actually deserve them.