Problematic controls rain on this whimsical, yet shallow, parade.
- Novel gameplay
- Goofy artistic style
- Accomodates younger players.
- Imprecise, inconsistent controls
- The seven performances can be completed in less than an hour
- Frustrating tempo drops and missed gestures
- Unpleasant Wii Remote speaker sounds.
In Major Minor's Majestic March, you use a magical baton that houses the spirit of your great great grandmother to lead a band of dogs, dolphins, flamingos, and flowers. By moving the Wii Remote up and down to a steady tempo, you lead your marching menagerie through a variety of brightly colored locales. The unique concept and whimsical art style are appealing, but alas, the game is hamstrung by inconsistency and troublesome controls. Sometimes the tempo will drop completely even though your steady motion hasn't changed, and at other times your gestures to recruit new members or pick up items simply won't register. It's also entirely possible to make it through a level without keeping tempo for the majority of the time. This makes the game accessible to less rhythmically inclined players, but even they will easily complete the tutorials and all seven performances in about an hour. With so little content and such problematic controls, Major Minor never lives up to the majesty that its name promises.
Playing as Major Minor, you come from a long ling of excellent bandleaders that stretches back to your Great Great Grandma Gladiola. GGGG's spirit lives inside a magical baton (yes, it's weird; just go with it), and she coaches you on how to follow in her footsteps. To lead your band, you hold the remote vertically in front of you, and then move it up and down in a regular rhythm. It generally works fine if you're rigidly adhering to form, but trying to add any style or flourish to your motions will cause you to stumble. Worse, you'll have to listen to GGGG's strident voice yell admonitions like, "Are you holding me properly??" from your tiny Wii Remote speaker. Once you stumble, it's hard to get back on track. Your band's music will falter and make it harder to recover; the audio metronome coming out of the remote speaker can also derail, leaving you fumbling to find the beat. There's a small meter onscreen that tells you how well you're doing and visually displays the tempo you should be hitting. However, this display is poorly designed and hard to read, so it isn't much help either.
When you lose the tempo, it's wisest to just plow ahead with your best guess. Sometimes things will just sort themselves out, and occasionally one of the aforementioned cues might actually help. Items offer a more reliable way to get back on track. Sun and cake immediately help straighten things out, and tempo-steadying jellybeans can be stored away and deployed with the B button. To collect items (and recruit new band members), you wave the remote to the left or right side, depending on where they are positioned. There are harmful items, but the helpful ones occur so often that, once you set the initial tempo, it is possible to stop keeping time completely, move the remote only to gather items and band members, and still complete the level. Of course, it's also possible to lose the rhythm when you try to grab items, at which point you're completely derailed. If that happens, you'll either rewind a short distance or have to restart the level entirely.
So what exactly is fun about Major Minor's Majestic March? Well, the novelty of leading a marching band is entertaining for a bit. Stepping in place and governing the tempo with snappy up-and-down movements makes you feel like a goofy pretend bandleader, and the vibrant environments that you march through are littered with oddly amusing characters. Your band members themselves are also oddly amusing, waiting patiently by the side of the road for you to come by and scoop them up. Seeing a crocodile in a business suit jump excitedly when you recruit him is humorous, and the more members you recruit, the richer your music will get. Watching rows and rows of wacky creatures march in step behind you is funny and satisfying (despite the unhelpful icons floating over their heads), and it all works nicely when you get in the groove. It's just too bad that the groove is so easy to lose.
There is some cooperative multiplayer action in which one player controls the tempo while the other recruits and grabs items, as well as a competitive mode in which players swap duties on the fly and try to get the most band members. The former is well suited for kids who might like the vibrant art style but have trouble keeping a tempo, whereas the latter isn't very engaging at all. The appeal of Major Minor's Majestic March is based almost completely on novelty, and it is pretty fun for a short while. Unfortunately, there's barely an hour's worth of levels, and replaying them for high scores isn't fun because of the imprecise controls. Major Minor might have a bit of replay value for folks looking to play a cooperative game with young children, but for anyone else it's just too shallow and flawed to justify purchase at even the slightly discounted price.