Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Sports Champions was a game that bristled with solid confidence. Its aims were simple: to show off what the Move could do and, more importantly, why it was a more precise experience than its competitors. It worked, the game was a huge success and did exactly what it set out to do. SCE San Diego and Zindagi's follow-up, another Move title named Medieval Moves, takes the duelling, archery and frisbee golf mechanics and slaps them all into an on-rails action title. You play as a skeletal zombie named Edmund (Sony dropped the 'Deadmund's Quest' sub-title in Europe) fighting his way through a bunch of undead henchmen, a few sub-bosses and eventually attempting to take down an evil super-baddie named Morgrimm, who's gone and nicked a magic amulet - the same guy who turned you into a walking pile of bones in the first place.
We're very much in Saturday morning cartoon territory here, and nearly every aspect of the game nods towards a focus on a younger audience. The character models are delightfully endearing, the animations smooth and often comical, there are little bits of slapstick humour here and there to get the youngsters giggling and it has to be said that there's a certain charm to the whole venture that manages to provide a little whimsy.
It's easy to look at Medieval Moves as something of a spiritual successor to Sports Champions because, although there's a basic narrative in place here, the real star of the show is the Playstation Move. The game is playable with one Move wand, but for the best experience you'll really need two, with the left hand allowing you to use your shield for defensive purposes as your right does all of the interesting stuff.
Swords, shurikens and soaring arrows are on the agenda here, with instantly familiar motions to learn, even if you haven't played Sports Champions. Slashing, stabbing and swinging your sword about is relatively self-explanatory. The Move's real-time tracking is superb and well-integrated, although the enemies you face don't really require any finesse whatsoever to take down. Raise your left hand to defend and then when a gap opens up, and the waves of skeletons that come at you are pretty accommodating in this respect, any right handed flourish will generally be enough to vanquish your foe.
Using the bow is a simple case of reaching over your shoulder with your right hand with your shoulder and bringing it back down to point at the screen as if you'd just retrieved an arrow from a quiver on your back and notched it to your bow. There's a handy zoom function, not to mention a few exploding barrels here and there to help you dispense of larger groups. It's a simple motion, but it is effective, and it works very well, although spamming arrows will knacker your shoulder. Prepare for some tests of endurance towards the end of the game.
The most satisfying part of the game, though, has to be the shurikens. Activated by a simple flick of the wrist, as if you were throwing a frisbee, the shurikens are both the most impressive part of the game's showcasing of the Move, and the most fun way of dispatching enemies. The precision of the wand means that elevation, speed and spin are all crucial and, once you've started to hang of things, you can of course curl them around objects, using spin and angle of release to adjust the flight.
Sadly, though, that's about it. You're on rails, so there's no deviation from the beaten path, and it's basically just you, your three weapons (and later on a grappling hook), repeated waves of arrow fodder and the odd sub-boss. For several hours. The core mechanics are very slick - swapping between weapons on the fly is simple and satisfying to begin with - but the game just doesn't really go anywhere. It's not particularly challenging at all and there are few surprises to be found. The weapons each have their own mini-games, available in splitscreen and online, but after charging through the main story there's little reason to play through them. Most upsetting, though, is the complete lack of PvP duelling, which seems thoroughly incomprehensible.
The story of Medieval Moves for much of the time is one we've heard many times over when it comes to games geared towards a younger audience. It's a game to be enjoyed in small bursts, that much is evident, and the developers have certainly played to their strengths, but the basic mechanics aren't enough to lift the game from being anything other than a mild distraction to which there's little reason to return. Medieval Moves is another game that relies upon the gimmick of motion control too much to be interesting in its own right, with a lack of diversity, control and presentation making for a game that's not broken, but not exactly thrilling either.
- Shurikens are an excellent touch
- Solid Move mechanics
- Good in small doses
- Not enough here to sustain long term interest
- Hugely repetitive
- Needs two Move wands ideally
The Short Version: A basic narrative and some cutesy presentation can't disguise the fact that Medieval Moves is little more than a Move tech demo. The developers have mastered the Move, that much is evident, but fourteen months on there should be more to say than that and, although fun initially, the level of repetition and paucity of gameplay features results in a game that won't hold anyone's interest for long, even those of a younger age.