Written by Jim Thomas Monday, 18 January 2010 22:11
It's not often that I find myself embarrassed by playing video games. When I was younger, playing a lot of video games had a negative connotation. High school is difficult enough without people knowing you spent your weekend playing Golden Eye and wanking into a sock. Now that I'm older and married, I delight in letting everyone I meet share in those details. However, upon playing Muscle March I realized that if anyone saw me playing this without the opportunity to explain myself, my train ride to work could be quite awkward.
Before this goes any further, let me explain my gaming environment. I live on the third story of a condo overlooking one of the busiest streets in Chicago. Across the street is a dilapidated whore-house filled with drug dealers and vagrants, above that is a fat shirtless guy that sits by the window with a telescope (I feel the need to let people know that you can't see stars in a city like Chicago because of all the lights). All with views directly into my living room, thanks to my floor to ceiling windows. On any given night, nothing of any importance takes place. Typically I'm on the couch pwning noobs at COD 4 or watching something ridiculous on adult swim. Occasionally, events will occur where the blinds need to be shut, as to avoid the glance of fat shirtless guy, or worn out prostitute. Playing Muscle March at Midnight fell into one of those "blinds shut" events. With the wife asleep, and the glaring eyes of the city cut off, I was able to fully enjoy Muscle March in all it's glory. Flailing around like a spastic isn't typically something I enjoy, but Muscle March is truley a good time.
If there is one thing to be said of Japanese developers, it's that they are original. Only in Japan could a game like Muscle March be conceived, and published (although it helps when your Namco Bandai). Often times, it's the more obscure titles you wouldn't otherwise play which result in the most fun. The concept behind Beautiful Katamari was incredibly simplistic, yet beautifully executed. To date Katamari remains one of my favorite titles. Namco has done it again with Muscle March. While even more simplistic than Katamari, Muscle March's elementary design and intuitive controls make it a game that anyone can play, and all will enjoy.
The premise of the game is simple. While you and your muscle bound cohorts are working out, a thief steals your protein powder. Enraged, the muscle crew takes chase through (emphasis on through) the town, space station, or village (depending on the level you select). The game plays much like the popular Japanese game show Nōkabe in which players must contort their bodies to fit through cutouts in cardboard walls (the show Hole in Wall aired briefly on Fox in 2008 with the same premise). As the thief runs through walls he will strike a pose, players must match said pose, or else they will lose stamina and fall behind. The closer you get to the thief the faster he runs, and the less time you have to react to his pose.