Edmund is a young, adventure-seeking prince. His life is a peaceful one, but one day forces of evil, a skeleton army led by Morgrimm, attack the kingdom that Edmund lives in. With the ghost of a former king as his ally and guide, Edmund must fight off the hordes of skeleton attackers and protect a sacred amulet of the kingdom. However, in trying to protect the amulet at the beginning of the game, Edmund is turned into a skeleton by Morgrimm. If he is to save himself and his people, he will have to fight his way to Morgrimm and defeat him.
Gameplay is controlled entirely by the Move controller, and you can optionally use two Move controllers to make a few functions more interactive or intuitive. These actions include using your off hand to block with your shield, holding your bow as your other hand operates loading and firing the bow, and throwing extra ninja stars. The controls are very familiar — simply swing the primary Move controller like a sword and Edmund, aka Deadmund, will swing it in turn. How hard you swing is important, and if you’re getting lazy the game will tell you via pop-up message to swing harder. The tracking for your motions is pretty much one to one, with Deadmund able to recognize diagonal, horizontal, and vertical swings.
Shield control works well, and I noticed it took me a little while to get consistent at making timely blocks. Attacks will come at you from a variety of angles, especially when they are arrows or other objects flying at you like an artillery volley. Melee attackers will strike at head and knee level, on both sides, so you have to be prepared to raise and lower your shield accordingly.
Bow controls are just like I recall them from Sports Champions. Players press the T button with their primary controller as they move the controller over their head, like retrieving an arrow from a quiver. Then you bring both Move controllers together and apart, as though you were nocking the arrow and drawing the string back. It’s a very smooth motion and works great. The view zooms into first person upon doing this, and you can zoom even farther by pressing and holding the Move button. To fire your arrow, simply release T. It’s a very reliable control scheme. Lining up that perfect long distance shot against a skeleton archer or rock-thrower, and knocking them dead(er) as they try to do the same to you, remains satisfying throughout.
As you continue through the story, Deadmund will soon gain access to a grapple hook and throwing stars. The grapple hook is used to zip your way to new heights, such as on top of a castle wall or across a dangerous gap. To use it, you lower the primary controller to your side and point it downwards. Then, you press and hold the T button and raise the controller to point at the on screen indicator. Releasing T sends your hook out, pulling Deadmund along with him. The throwing stars are cool, and the motion for those has you holding the controller(s) horizontally across your torso, and then flinging the arms forward, just like those ninjas in the movies.
Given the developers’ experience with Sports Champions, and the ‘safety’ of the motion controls in this game, it wasn’t very surprising that they worked very well. Establishing functional, reliable motion controls is not a given, as anyone who has played a few motion games can tell you, but Medieval Moves works great. In addition to a nice presentation and story, Medieval Moves has a lot going for it, but what I couldn’t escape was just how repetitive the gameplay got to be after about forty-five minutes to an hour. While you visit other interesting parts of the kingdom and battle new minions of Morgrimm, the gameplay grew monotonous and uninspired. It got to where I didn’t want to play more than about a half hour in a session, but it’s quite possible that a younger audience may not feel the same way. Still, the fact remains that the game is on rails and you have no control over where you are headed next and there are just the same few motions controls. Collectibles and mini-games that pop up during the story help out a little, as does the ability to play co-op and competitive online and offline multiplayer, but I do think that more should have been done to keep the experience fresh after that first hour or two.
That said, Medieval Moves’ presentation is cartoonish and very fitting for the audience and style of play. Characters look pretty detailed and animate nicely. I liked the art style that, again, seemed liked it was taken right out of a cartoon or comic book. In fact, the cutscenes are a series of still images that display just like a comic book. Voiceovers and the rest of the audio were well done, too.
To the summary…