Game Review

The Three Musketeers: One For All! Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

This week, Alexandre Dumas makes his WiiWare debut. Next week: Crime and Punishment Party!

When it was first announced, The Three Musketeers: One For All! was the subject of much anticipation on the part of the WiiWare community, simply because it belonged a mysteriously under-represented genre: the action platformer. This earned it a lot of attention, but does it live up to its own hype?

The story seems to take Alexandre Dumas' novel as vague inspiration more than anything to be adhered to faithfully, and that's for the best. (How much switch-hitting and sawblade-jumping did you think was in the novel anyway?) As the game begins, Athos, Aramis (two of the Three Musketeers), and their protege D'Artagnan are kidnapped. Porthos - the third Musketeer and the game's hero - springs into action to rescue his friends.

It's a classic platforming setup, and The Three Musketeers adheres to the classic platforming rules: don't fall into pits, don't get killed by enemies, and make sure you collect the coins. Hearts give you health, and a spare hat grants you an extra life. It's familiar territory, and unobtrusive instructions appear at the bottom of the screen to teach you the controls as you will need them.

Only two buttons on the Wiimote are used, which means that there's very little room for confusion. A jumps, B slides boxes around, and Porthos' movement is controlled by the nunchuk. Unfortunately, this leads us to our inevitable first complaint: the sword attack is mapped to a flick of the Wiimote. This isn't automatically a bad thing - as proven by the spin attack in Super Mario Galaxy - but here it can be woefully unresponsive, and will sometimes fail to register for no discernible reason. It's one thing to miss an attack due to bad timing, but it's much more irritating to miss one because the attack failed to activate at all.

Because of this, it would have been great to have the option for classic NES-style control. The attack and push function could have been mapped to the same button, and it would have made the game much more responsive, while also complementing the old-school platforming feel of the game.

The platforming itself is a mixed bag, with some of the levels being rather uninspired, but thankfully the level design is never particularly poor, and every so often you'll come across a stage with a truly impressive layout. Spiraling up the inside of a tower is an excellent early treat in the game, and later maze-like levels give you a lot of room for optional exploration. It's safe to say that when the game is at its best, the experience is fantastic.

The art style is phenomenal as well; screen shots can never do this game justice. The backgrounds are beautiful, and even when an object is occasionally revealed as a flat piece of 2D set dressing, it doesn't lose its magic. Visually, this is among the most distinct titles on the WiiWare service, and we mean that as a great compliment. There is also some brilliant use of the camera, which swings around 90-degree corners to reorient the screen around you, and will sometimes swivel through a room so that your advance, though ostensibly still left to right, takes on a more circuitous and realistic path.

This helps to inject a lot of life into the traditional platforming, and it's one of The Three Musketeers' most unique and successful attributes. Particularly welcome are the wonderful moments when the camera will suddenly drop, giving you an up-from-under view of a particular jump, transforming the mundane into the genuinely dramatic, surprisingly without sacrificing precision! For all the moving around that the camera does, it almost never interferes, and it opens up a whole new world of pleasing design choices that wouldn't have been otherwise possible, such as rotating the screen so that you pass the same room full of archers from three different directions!

Sadly, while the camera will not be responsible for cheap player deaths, the game's loose physics just might. Precision jumping is fine in games like Super Mario Bros. and Mega Man, because in those games, if you fall and die, you're always aware that it was more your fault than the game's. In The Three Musketeers, you will not be able to make that concession. The precision leaps are kept to a minimum, but they are there, and when you lose all of your lives making unsuccessful ladder-jumps over pits of death - and then have to restart a long level from the beginning - don't say we didn't warn you.

Aurally the game is pleasant. None of the background tracks really stood out, but none of them grated, either. This game went the "small and respectful" route when it came to the music, and that was a wise decision. There is voice acting, but it's mainly just for Porthos, as he both makes comments in-game, and serves as our narrator. The voice acting is limited, but is, thankfully, quite good. (Does anyone else think he sounds a bit like Henry Hatsworth?)

Sadly the animated sequences from the original PC game are all missing from this port. While this was undoubtedly due to space constraints, it's very unfortunate that they had to go, as they had a simple charm that triggered appropriate childhood memories of unfaithful cartoon adaptations of great literary works. Of course, given the choice between animated cut scenes and more gameplay, any serious gamer would choose the latter, but the narrated comic book panels are really not much of a replacement, and it would have been nice to at least have the intro or ending sequence animated.

A few more general issues haunt this release as well, such a puzzling inability to pause the game, frame-rate drops and irritating loading times, and though the importance of these issues will vary greatly depending upon the gamer experiencing them, it's important that they are mentioned. This is a shame, because if this game could have dropped the loading times, kept up the frame rate, allowed NES-style play and tweaked the physics, we'd be looking at one of the best releases WiiWare has yet seen. (Of course, if wishes were horses, we here at Nintendo Life Towers would be knee-deep in horse-steaks every morning.)

As it stands, The Three Musketeers remains an impressive and unique title that may frustrate many with its unfortunate quirks, but will impress at least as many others. Legendo assembled a really great game at heart, but, ultimately, it just might have been undercut by its own ambition.

Conclusion

The Three Musketeers: One For All! is difficult to recommend without also reciting a litany of flaws, but, in the end, we feel that those flaws are forgiven by the many things this game gets just right. The art style is lovely, the platforming (overall) very fun, and the use of the camera is both satisfying and unique. With a few quirks ironed out this could have been a masterpiece worthy of the name Dumas. As it stands, its issues are difficult to ignore - and perhaps should not be ignored - but if you're looking for classic platforming action with a great deal of fun and personality, this game should not be missed.

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User Comments (40)

VGM

#1

VGM said:

Hey Chicken Brutus only Corbie can give 7's around here. :D First

shinigami_tidus

#2

shinigami_tidus said:

With only a 7 they could decrease the price down to 700-800points.
Nevertheless i like the unique style of the game^_^

Egg_miester

#5

Egg_miester said:

after watching the video on nintendo channel i thought the game looks great like old snes games that i miss and sooner or later i'll get it
but i still don't like that its 900 points seems over priced

sirgrim

#7

sirgrim said:

Good review. Can't wait to play my copy. Need to find where I left my Wiimote first. The art style looks really fun.

Kidpit

#8

Kidpit said:

After reading this, I have a strange hankering for a candy bar. How odd.
Anywho seems to be a decent game, may pick it up some time.

Knux

#10

Knux said:

@Comment 4-LOL! Great review, Chicken Brutus. I do not like constant waggle with a Wii Remote in a 2D platformer, so I think I will pass.

Objection

#11

Objection said:

Seems fairly consistant with the minor cons I've heard elsewhere. I do hope we see more platformers on WW soon.

DazzaAdmin

#13

Dazza said:

Nice review Phil. I agree with your sentiments totally, this is a fun platformer and well worth a look.

The framerate and 5 secs load times between minor sections did annoy me a bit to begin with, but as you say, it's not really game breaking.

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#14

Philip_J_Reed said:

The framerate is an interesting issue, because while I noticed it, it didn't bother me at all. On the forums, however, it was made clear that some people were strongly concerned about it. I think it's one of those flaws that are going to weigh differently on everybody's scales.

The load times bothered me, too, but mainly because they caused me to relax for a moment, which wasn't always good when the next room started you off in the line of fire!

sirgrim

#15

sirgrim said:

First impressions are this is awesome. I didn't even notice the framerate, and the 5 second loading time I can forgive due to what they've accomplished.

The art and comic-style is absolutely wonderful. I'm in love with the quirky voice acting and art. The 2.5D levels and camera switches flow perfectly. They really make this game. The only gripe I have is waggle over a button for sword swing, but it works well and you don't have to spend all day waggling so it's a minor preference gripe more than anything. I'll have to see how that holds up through the game, as I only passed the first couple chapters.

Definitely a good effort by a developer I will now keep an eye on. There's a good deal going on just barely on screen, like archers with arrows that stick properly in to the level, or giant spider shadows marching around. Definitely a charming little title.

Vendetta

#16

Vendetta said:

@Chicken, you know I'm not short on points - so as long as your review was favorable I planned on getting this. Looking forward to it! Great job on the review by the way. Better than your first even, which was good also - but no doubt difficult because of the game you were reviewing.

accc

#17

accc said:

This review pretty much exactly echoes my thoughts on the game. Nice review chicken!

pixelman

#18

pixelman said:

Great review Chicken. I think you convinced me to buy this with my next points card. If this is a sample of what Legendo will be bringing us in the future, they've got my support (and 9 bucks). :)

Link6694

#20

Link6694 said:

Very nice review Chicken, Glad you enjoyed the game!
Legendo succeeded on their first wiiware game and hopefully will have more hits in the future!
Can't wait to play this game again. :)

ACK

#21

ACK said:

One question, does anyone know if the multiple endings from the PC version were retained for the WiiWare release?

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#22

Philip_J_Reed said:

@ACK:
I don't know for sure, but you do get a ranking when you finish the game, which leads me to believe the ending might be at least slightly different depending upon how many coins you collect. (Think Duck Tales NES.)

I'm not sure what the original PC endings entailed...whether it was just a matter of rankings and a still, or if they were separate, fully animated sequences.

Eripmav?

eripmav

#24

eripmav said:

I may get spanked for saying this but there are indeed multiple endings:) Shh, you didn't hear that from me..

Thank you Chicken B. for the wonderful review, I'm glad you enjoyed the game. It's an exciting time for us, if this sells well our next game is going to be something special. It's already in development, but I'm not allowed to lift the lid yet but it's totally different from 3M..

Chunky_Droid

#25

Chunky_Droid said:

Phillip J Reed, I get the impression you've been looking forward to this game :). Nice review buddy!

odd69

#27

odd69 said:

I've had a few days to play with this and it does grow on you.Awesome review. I bet Legendo's next game is going be awesome.I do wish eripmav would just spill the beans and give us a hint.

eripmav

#28

eripmav said:

Don't go trying to make me feel guilty now! The only time I can say something is when I've been given the official nod:)

Besides which, it's all down to how Three Musketeers performs sales wise;)

accc

#29

accc said:

I have a question about the lack of cinemas. Some Wiiware developers have gotten around the size limitations by using DLC to release their game in several parts, like Space Invaders Get Even. Would it have been possible to put in DLC that replaces the static cutscenes with the cinemas from the PC version?

jbrodack

#30

jbrodack said:

Nice review. Probably gonna pass on this one due to other games being more desired and the tacked on motion controls.

Omega

#31

Omega said:

Finally another decent jump and run game. According to the review, it seems to be quite interesting.

I think loading times (more likely uncompressing times) and sometimes framerate issues are no problem for me. And the attack control and physics is probably something that someone needs getting used to? (I hope so.)

Anyway, after reading the review I have the impression that the game is far away from being bad. I write it on my "shopping list" for my next visit on the Wii shop.

BTW: The review is well written and quite detailed. (As far as I can tell with my poor knowledge of the english language.) I have a few questions, though:

  • How difficult is the game? Is it as hard as Mega Man 9? Or much easier?
  • How many levels has it? And how many hours have you needed to play through the whole game?
  • Are there any secrets that can be revealed. Something like the Melodia Idols in Lost Winds or special Coins in Super Mario?
  • Is it possible to save the game? How does that work? Is the game saved automatically at the end of each level? Or can you save anytime and everywhere? Or at certain checkpoints?
Philip_J_ReedStaff

#32

Philip_J_Reed said:

1) It's nowhere near as hard as Mega Man 9. In fact, it's a pretty balanced playing experience. I wouldn't call it particularly easy, but never would I call it very hard.

2) I can't remember how many levels. There are four "worlds" though, if I remember correctly, and each of them has a bunch of levels to play through, including a boss-fight at the end. It probably took me three and a half hours to make it through the game, but I was speeding myself a little bit for the sake of review, and consequently missed out on a lot of optional exploration. Four to five hours is probably more accurate for a single run.

3) The developer confirmed above that there are multiple endings, but other than that I don't know. I believe the endings are determined by the number of coins you collect, many of which are indeed hidden. (You'll learn at the end of the level the percentage that you missed.)

4) The game does save automatically at the end of each level, and also at checkpoints. (Longer levels have them, and the checkpoint tends to be before you get to an instant-death obstacle sequence.) You can't save at your leisure, however.

Omega

#33

Omega said:

Thank you very much for answering my questions, Chicken Brutus. I think a moderate difficulty level is a good thing. Sometimes I like the easier type of games to relax. (I'm still frustrated from Ghosts'n'Goblins on the GBC.)

I think it's noteworthy that there are Boss Fights and hidden coins to collect. This makes me even more tend to get the game.

Now we have Mega Man 9, NyxQuest, LostWinds, Adventure Island, Cocoto Jumper and this one. They are not many, but none of them is particularly bad.

tatemon555

#34

tatemon555 said:

Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sevens rule! When I hear that a game gets a 7/10, I think it's a 10/10. Of course, when I see a 10/10, I think it's an 8/10. Maybe I'm just strange. Still, sevens rule.

y2josh

#36

y2josh said:

It's hard to get used to that chicken head above the review instead of just below :S LOL

I've been looking forward to this game and this is a wonderful review. Next time I have time to get a dl game and play it this will be the one.

WolfRamHeart

#37

WolfRamHeart said:

I wasn't so sure about this game and spent about a week trying to decide if it would be worth getting. I decided to take the plunge and download it and after trying it for myself I have to admit that I am really impressed with this game! I agree with this review entirely! While the game may not be perfect and has a few flaws it is nothing that will hinder your enjoyment of this game! If you enjoy 2D platformers then I would definitely recommend you try this game! It may not be the best game out there but it is still a charming and fun experience that is well worth the 900 points! I can't wait to see what Legendo brings to the WiiWare service next!:)

eripmav

#38

eripmav said:

Great to hear WolfRamHeart, thank you. I urge any fan of the genre to give it a whirl, spend your hard earned Pepsi points on this wee gem, you'll not be disappointed. If you are, please spank ChickenBrutus, he likes it apparently.

John3714

#39

John3714 said:

Good game. Had fun with it. Only two issues I had were the loading times and the awkward ladder jumps. Sometimes, I would latch on; others, I would fall to my death. The lack of pausing didn't bother me, as I've gotten used to hitting the "home" button on my wii-mote whenever I want to pause a game.

Definitely will look for Legendo's next game, although if they are going off of sales, I am a bit dismayed. I surprisingly haven't seen this on the Top 20 list yet :(

eripmav

#40

eripmav said:

Fingers crossed John, that when some other sites have reviewed the game, sales will pick up. You're not the only one dismayed fella! :)

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