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,
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.