The video game Muscle March tells the classic tale of a gaggle of weightlifters who had their protein shake powder stolen by a football player/Martian who is then chased from Japan to outer space by the muscle-bound behemoths trying to get their drink mix back.
Okay, so it’s not so much a classic story as it is a fucking bat-shit insane one, but who needs a story when you’re talking about an arcade-style, downloadable Wii game?
Muscle March was released on the WiiWare Channel in Japan in late May this year, and it’s every bit as crazy as this video portrays it.
As you could see from that footage, the point of this way-hetero game is to select your not-at-all-gay-looking character and strike flexing poses to fit through the holes punched out by the protein-shake thieves as they smash through walls. Using the Wiimote and nunchuck, you strike a pose by lowering or raising your arms, your movements corresponding to your characters’. Pose incorrectly and you run into the wall and get hurt — get hurt 5 times and you lose. When your more-than-likely-heterosexual character gets close enough to the perp, you go into a short mini-game where you shake the Wiimote and nunchuck as fast as possible to make your character run faster and eventually hip tackle the thief in a completely straight manner. Screw up and the level starts over again.
There are three levels in Muscle March (Modern Japan, Feudal Japan and Outer Space… yes, I’m serious) with each level having three sub-levels. The game also has an endurance mode where it’s one unending level; the point being to rack up the highest score possible by seeing how far/fast you can go without messing up.
The game tries to coast on quirk and charm (and let’s face it, sheer madness), but as you can probably guess, it’s still a pretty shallow gaming experience. The controls, while functional and fun, are extremely simplistic. I mean, I described the ENTIRE game to you: Lift your arms like an idiot, chase guy, the end. You can pretty much see everything the game has to offer in half an hour. It’s like a mini-game from Wario Ware being stretched out about as far as it can go.
I hate to bring up graphics when concerning a downloadable game, but the Playstation 1 could probably run Muscle March. The textures are muddied and most of the low-res sprites are downright terrible. You could argue that the bad graphics are part of its charm, and you might be right, but when you see it in motion, some of the visuals are downright inexcusable. On the plus side, the game runs at a decent clip without any frame rate hiccups or slowdown.
If Muscle March were $5 or cheaper, I’d recommend it for its sheer absurdity alone: It’s almost worth owning just to show people that this game actually exists. Guaranteed, you and your friends will laugh playing this crazier-than-a-shithouse-rat game. However, given that Muscle March is actually $8, it’s a bit hard to recommend. To me, three bucks is the difference between a fun lark on a lazy afternoon and an all-too-short arcade game that you regret for spending that much money on.
It’s fun and all, I guess, but the price point is hard to swallow.
(Heh, heh…. Not gay.)
PRO-TIP: If you’re having a hard time beating a level, try intentionally getting hurt a couple times near the beginning of the stage. The level is only a certain length, so you can protract the introductory slow part by running into the walls before the hard parts begin. Sure, your score will decrease, but your odds of beating the game will be better.