For such a famous property, it's a surprise that The Three Musketeers have not been seen in video games more often. Alexandre Dumas' novels contain subjects perfect for the medium: camaraderie, conflict and, above all, swordplay. Legendo seized upon the idea to develop a game back in 2006 on PC, but have chosen to re-release it on WiiWare.
The Three Musketeers: One For All! immediately takes a brave step in separating the characters that make up the group, placing players in control of Porthos alone after his friends are kidnapped, and so it becomes immediately obvious that the novels serve as inspiration rather than a template. Which is probably for the best, really, as Porthos' adventure is an action platformer - not a genre commonly known for its immense story telling. It mainly takes place on a two dimensional plane but spins around as players turn corners and spiral up towers throughout thanks to the 3D engine.
The effect, in combination with the gorgeous cel-shaded backgrounds and layered graphics, gives us one of the best looking titles on the WiiWare service. It's vibrant, cartoon-like and there's usually something going, whether it's an archer lurking far in the background or a beautifully animated spider creeping along a shelf in the foreground - or, of course, an obstacle or enemy in your direct path. In fact, there's almost too much clutter at some points such is the effort put in. The only letdowns on the visual side are the character models, which stand out as 3D models due to the need for them to traverse the environment as it spins. There's nothing wrong with them as such, they just don't fully fit in with the rest of the style.
The gameplay itself is not quite so complex. If you've played a platformer before you'll know what sort of thing to expect - jumping about, hitting switches, et cetera. Being a musketeer, Porthos has his trusty sword at his side for his offence. It's used often so should really have been mapped to a button, but instead a sharp shake of the Wii remote is required for every attack (there's just the one, a simple sword slash). The shaking might have been alright were it not for the slight lag in motion sensing that occurs every so often, leaving you completely open to attack. Only two buttons are used - A for jumping, B for box pushing - so it's not as if there wasn't a button free for sword usage.
This is one of the few things that holds One For All! back from being the game it could have been. Otherwise there are infrequent split-second hangs in gameplay; uncommon they may be, but it's something you don't want there in any capacity in a game that regularly relies upon pixel-perfect jumps that can be frustrating enough as it is. There's also a complete lack of a pause function (easily remedied with use of the Home button, but that's not the point), load times of a few seconds each time you move to a new screen and an antiquated life system makes a return; lose one and you're thrown to the last save point (typically at the beginning of a level, a halfway point in a long level or before a boss fight), lose them all and you're kicked back to the title screen to reload your save. It only takes a moment to reload your save, but it's a little pointless.
Aside these niggles, The Three Musketeers does things right. The design is great once you adjust to the jumping requirements, sticking to the same general format of jump, attack, collect coins and keys throughout, but there's a decent variety. There are straightforward levels, others rely on ladder-based mazes, some are uphill (well, tower) battles or revolve around trap dodging, and then there are boss fights at the end of each of the four worlds - there are only two types, repeated, but they're both fun. The AI of enemies harks back to the 'olden days' of sticking to patterns - i.e., it's non-existent - but that's fine as the combat system is obviously supposed to be about timing your blows to strike just before you are hit, which is blatantly shown in one of the boss encounters. There's also a cool little icon of your character's fact next to your life meter that reacts to whatever action you are performing; for example, when you jump his tiny hat does a leap of its own.
Legendo's WiiWare debut is an example of a good game that is dragged down by a few small irritations that add up to larger problems. Waggle attacking, load times and the other issues should never have made it through, but The Three Musketeers does enough well over its three or four hours of play time that it's worthy of a playthrough for platform fans.
There's plenty to like here: standard platforming mixed up a bit, with nothing staying the same for too long. However, there are a bunch of issues that pull it down, such as the constant need for remote shaking to attack.
The visuals, outside of the character models, are outstanding. Screenshots don't do them justice; they deserve to be seen on a big TV. A little Viewtiful Joe-esque. Unfortunately the cutscenes of the PC version were cut, but the storyboard sequences are still nice.
The main thing you'll hear are sound effects and voice samples, all of which are well done; sometimes the effects will blend in with the minimal orchestral soundtrack nicely. Bizarrely, Porthos is British; aren't they in France?!
If you're a platformer fan, you'll get a few hours of entertainment out of this.
The Three Musketeers could have been in the top tier of WiiWare games, but it sadly misses out on this due to some troublesome aspects like motion attacks and an irritating life system. It's not One For All gamers, but if you can ignore the issues, it's a solid, gorgeous platformer with enough variety to hold interest for a play through.