When making a game for kids, the prevailing wisdom is to keep it simple, stupid. But sometimes developers make their kiddie games so simple that they end up being stupid. Such is the case with Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest, an arcadey, goofy, and cartoony third-person hack & slash fantasy game from the people who made Sports Champions. Cast as a small boy skeleton, you have to take out tons of your fellow “boney Americans” using the Move’s motion controller as a sword, a shield, a bow & arrow, a throwing star dispenser, and ultimately, as something you look at incredulously as you wonder why there isn’t more to this game, and can I play something else, dad?
Part of the problem is that this entire game is on-rails like a lightgun shooter. So instead of letting you explore, or sneak up behind enemies, or flank them as you would in a less restrictive game, you come at everyone pretty much head-on. Sure, there are some branching pathways, but like the ones in arcade-ish racing games, they’re basically just shortcuts.
It also doesn’t help that when you do confront someone head-on, the conflict plays out the same. You whack them, they whack you, end of story. Sure, you can use your shield - which, admittedly, adds a little something since enemies can attack high or low and you can block accordingly - or nail them with an arrow or throwing star, but since skeletons don’t have brains, and are thus pretty dumb, this ends up being somewhat redundant, even for a kid who doesn’t get to play games every day. While it will keep children engaged long enough to give their parents a moment’s rest, after a while they’ll grow tired of it, and not just because they’ve been flailing their arms around.
These issues are magnified by the age of the player. While kids won’t last long, their parents - knowing what this could’ve been without the restricted movement - will grow bored with it quicker. Especially since this is terribly middle of the road, and rife with clichés. Be it the poor attempts at humor or the obvious sword & sorcery-style music, this is rather generic, though mom will appreciate that instead of health potions our hero drinks milk to feel better.
The irony is that what little game there is here shows promise. The game’s controls really do make you feel as if you’re swinging a sword at some skeleton’s skull, blocking an incoming arrow, or drinking some milk. The game also mixes things up, albeit slightly, by giving you a grappling hook you can use to occasionally swing somewhere like you’re Spider-Man. Though, again, you’re limited when you can use it and where you can go with it.
The game also has some other modes that are far more engaging, especially when played locally with a slightly spastic kid aged 8 to 11 who just ate a bag of cookies. The one that most plays to this game’s strengths is the Horde-like Invasion, in which you’re attacked from all sides and have to last as long as you can. What makes it fun is that you can either work with your partner or compete against them to see who can last longer.
Even so, there’s still not enough here to keep a kid, a parent playing with their kid, or childish adults engaged for very long, especially since there’s so many better (read: deeper) games out there for parents to play with their kids: the Rabbids games, those various dance contests, or any of Nintendo’s minigame collections. Sometimes, keeping it simple can be stupid.