Muscle March Review
Posted by Jon Wahlgren
Weird doesn't even begin to describe it
Someone has stolen your stash of muscle-pumping creatine! Quick, assemble the burliest speedo-clad men, women and polar bears in town, chase the thief through walls and bury them under a pile of men! Dash, pose, flex!
Muscle March is the kind of game that doesn't really need a review because everything you could possibly need to know to make a purchasing decision can be gleaned from one of its many trailers online. It's not so much a game as it is a very funny and exceptionally bizarre joke – gameplay is secondary to the zaniness contained within.
Absolutely every square inch of Muscle March is designed to amuse and confuse. From the IR cursor (a burly man who grows to a screen-filling size the closer your Remote gets to the sensor bar) to the banana-hammocked polar bear, every part of the package is a gag. The menu screen is a collage straight out of a quirky Japanese game show and everything from the characters’ faces down to the pitter-patter sound they make when running is designed to elicit maximum confusion as you dance and shake your booty through the cities. Each of the five tunes is a ridiculous pop song about muscles (which fit perfectly). Curiously, the game doesn’t support true widescreen, instead opting to fill the side borders with super colorful rainbow bars and beefcake silhouettes.
So yeah, about that stolen creatine. Your chase will blast you and a line of other burly folk through walls in three city stages in pursuit of whatever ridiculous character has your coveted powder. To get through a wall, you need to strike the same pose as the thief by throwing your arms into position. Your fellow pursuers will fall out of line one-by-one thanks to a few strategically placed banana peels (of course) until you’re the only one left chasing. After increasingly speedy flexing, you get the chance to tackle the thief by furiously waggling the Remote and Nunchuk.
Even though the controls come down to simple hand positioning, a few things will keep you slamming into walls. Control sensitivity becomes an issue: while generally accurate there’s a lag between positioning your arms and having your character do the same. When things get fast, this inevitably leads to missing cues and massive wall pain. This also ties into not being able to see the next position until late, so when you need to keep repositioning your arms you won’t have a lot of reaction time, which, again, becomes a problem at higher speeds. Slamming into too many walls will eventually send you back to the beginning of the stage too, doubly frustrating you. And despite how crazy you flail during the waggle-tackle sequence at the end of the levels, sometimes it'll just decide that you're not doing it enough and send you on another loop through the level.
Stages last around three minutes each, if that, which is really the perfect length. Had they gone on for much longer then the simple gameplay would wear thin and repetitive, but it’s just enough to hop in for a quick burst of leotard goodness. That being said, there is a score-based endless mode where you run along a rainbow track until you slam into a few too many walls. It’s a nice addition for score junkies and the only place to rope in friends for 4-player action, and having more people in on this is the best way to play. Unfortunately it's a pass-the-controller game, but still fun. Plus there's no annoying waggle-tackle sequence, just straight-up wall blasting until you miss too many poses.
Like all jokes, once you know the punchline is coming it’s just not as funny, and repeated play of Muscle March alone will probably not be high on your priority list. That being said, it’s still a really good gag and one of the most WTF-inspiring games you’re likely to play this gen. If that’s what you’re into then go for it.
As long as you’re not expecting a deep and rewarding gameplay experience, it’s tough to really go wrong with Muscle March. It's bizarre by design and kind of shallow, which may not be everyone's cup of tea, but if the idea of ludicrously muscular chases through walls tickles your funny bone then Muscle March is a great way to spend 500 Points. However, it is a very shallow experience with some annoying control issues. To experience the joke we wholeheartedly recommend it, but as an actual game Muscle March is really nothing special.