Friday, September 10, 2010

Medieval Games Review

It's been out for a while, but I just recently found Medieval Games by Vir2L Studios for Wii. I picked it up thinking to finally indoctrinate introduce my daughter to some medieval themes beyond the Colorado Renaissance Festival. While the Ren Fair is fun, beyond the jousting it's more an amalgam of things fantasy, renaissance-y, and medieval-y. (Not to mention the variety of ninja, warrior princesses, and pirates.) Not really medieval (or renaissance-y for that matter). No matter - it was time to have some fun with Medieval Games!
Cathy is only 7 but she kicks a$$ at Wii. Especially the sword games. We got Wii Sports Resort and her favorite games (and the ones she's best at, even beating her old man regularly) are the sword ones. I thought Medieval Games might have a few sword-like games and it does - just not quite as nice as the ones in Resort (although she does still kick my butt).
The game has three primary modes - tournament, storybook, and free play. The tournament mode lets you play against other players in an attempt to score the most points and win a basic tournament. Free play lets you play any of games you've unlocked via storybook. Storybook mode is where the meat of the game is.
You select one of 8 characters (5 male, 3 female) and travel around a game board, competing in events, trying to earn enough money to be crowned the winner. There are three storybooks, each a little more complex and a little longer than the previous. It's a combination of board game and mini video game. You roll a virtual die and then move your player token around the board, collecting coins, dueling other players, or competing against the other players. There are a few tournament competitions in which you can win a trophy worth some hefty cash, so getting the trophies helps you along your way.
The storybook games are actually pretty difficult if you're playing against the computer. Some of the characters excel at certain games and it can be very hard to beat them. One of the competitions is a dancing competition that would give Tony Manero a run for his money. Well, okay, only if Tony were a jester and suffering from plague. Still - entertaining.
For the games, there's a pretty diverse collection, some of which were actually medieval games of skill, including an archery competition, some (very) basic dueling/swordplay, and, of course, jousting! It's not a whole lot better than the Defender of the Crown (1986) jousting but, when you think about it, how much better could you make it? (For those of us born before man walked on the moon, Defender of the Crown was the shizzle graphics-wise - TOTALLY kicked a$$. Then again, anything with more than 4 colors was pretty freakin' cool at the time.)
The jousting was probably the most entertaining for me, but the dimensionality (or lack thereof) is a bit difficult to overcome consistently. I end up relying on the "thrust the wiimote forward NOW!" cues than the visuals to make the impact more forceful. Thankfully, no one suffers the fate of Henry II - the worst that happens is you get knocked off your horse. Which is still, trust me, not a trivial occurrence; many jousters, including those in the burgeoning "extreme sport" version, can be pretty seriously injured hitting the ground.
My daughter totally loves this game and has enjoyed playing every weekend since we got it. Is it medieval? Only in the most generous terms. Is it fun? Well, that's a totally different story.
Here's the scorecard:

Game play:


Good, but some tasks don’t give you much time to learn



It's cartoony at best, but it's light-hearted



The cheese factor is in full swing, but a blast

Overall Grade:


Good game; fun for the whole family


Everyone (although it is challenging for younger players)

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