Publisher: Vir2L Softworks
Developer: N-Fusion Interactive
The Wii is one of the best party games on the planet. Insert a disc, dish out the wiimotes and beer, and have yourself a fantastic time. The success of titles like Mario Party 8, Carnival Games and Raving Rabbids just goes to show that people enjoy making idiots of themselves, while playing clever mini-games that challenge their minds and reflexes.
So along comes Medieval Games developed by N-Fusion Interactive and with it some delightfully light and entertaining moments. From the beginning its structure is very similar to that of Mario Party 8. Those of you who played the latter will find the flow of the game, along with the coins and mini-games, instantly recognisable.
Visually the game has adopted a unique style to convey the storyline through cut-scenes. Instead of terrifyingly bland CGI they’ve opted for a story-book design that works beautifully. As each page of this pop-up book turns you’ll be treated to bright artwork with some excellent caricatures.
Once you enter the main menu you’re given plenty of choices on how you want to proceed with the game. You can elect to practice a series of mini games in Free Play, enter into a Tournament or play the Storybook mode.
To start with, you find yourself at a festival, the Harvest Festival to be exact, where you are to compete against up to four other players on a board that runs around the grounds of the palace. Your goal is to win the most coins so you can choose a bride for the Prince. If you don’t, something horrible will happen to him. I liked the idea, especially when you had the obligatory pushy father with his terrifyingly unattractive daughter vying for top spot.
The game is, quite simply, a board game with mini-games, traps and prizes along the way. You have to play with four people so if you’re a solo player then you’ll be up against three computer bots. This isn’t ideal for the lonely git who loves this type of game but has no friends.
It’s at this point that the game’s flaws begin to show. Manhandling the dice is blocky and vague so you don’t quite get the feeling that you have any control over the wiimote, or the outcome. And, if you’re solo, you have to endure a long wait before it’s your turn.
However, the mini games are usually all inclusive for all four players so you won’t be sitting on your sofa nodding off while you wait for a chance to lift your wiimote.
These mini games are delightfully varied, 30 in total, and enter into the medieval spirit of things nicely. Fans of Monty Python will laugh at the Black Knight and the mini game that surrounds his appearance and the pig trussing game is delightfully funny. As are your manure soaked robes.
Unfortunately most of these games suffer from poor wiimote control. I got frustrated pretty fast with the clunky interaction and manoeuvrability. In games like the catapult or the jousting you want to give up in annoyance after only a couple of tries. Waving the wiimote in the instructed manner seemed to only work every now and again and any precision is almost impossible to achieve.
That said, the archery games were great. For some reason the controls slipped neatly into place and you were given neat accuracy when firing.
It is a real pity that the controls are so flaky when it’s obvious that a lot of effort has gone into coming up with imaginative games. Dragons, dancing and puppet smashing all feature and are all delightful to watch.
Which brings me to my next concern, watching. It’s a four player game that has two players sitting out for quite a lot of the time. While this is obviously an excellent opportunity for you to quaff some mead (or beer, whichever you prefer) it isn’t really condusive to inclusive play.
Not only that, but when the games are Versus style – as in one player against the other three – it’s often not very clear what you’re supposed to be doing. Are you the player doing the shooting or are you the player doing the ducking? In the puppet slasher game (a genius concept) you’re asked to take control of a puppet that isn’t your original character and you have no idea which one you’re supposed to be. This is, of course, in solo player vs. three computer bots mode.
If you want something more competitive then Tournament mode will be a good bet – you can duel it out with your opponents and enjoy some happy jousting. Free Play is exactly what it says on the tin, a good place to get some practise before you play the Storybook mode.
Overall the game is entertaining but does suffer from frustrating flaws that should not be there at all considering its predecessor Carnival Games and how chic the interface was there. Needless to say ,it’s likely that many fans of the genre will enjoy playing Medieval games and get a kick out of the clever jokes and mini games.