In the eternal struggle of ninjas vs. pirates, the ninjas have won this round.
Galleon starts when pirate captain and kung fu master Rhama Sabrier responds to a letter sent from a healer named Areliano. Areliano's recently discovered a mysterious ship with a garden in the hold and fresh leaves of an extinct magical herb in the cabin, and wants Rhama to find out where the ship came from. Rhama'll get the exclusive shipping rights for a valuable herb, and Areliano will get to save lives.
Unfortunately for all involved, Areliano's greedy servant steals the herbs, kills Areliano, and takes off in a ship of his own. The herbs can be used to heal as well as harm, so Rhama and Areliano's daughter Faith have to stop him. Cue platforming adventure on the high seas.
Also, cue up the reasons not to play the game, which become apparent from the moment you take control of Rhama. Galleon is a sort of brawler/platformer, with emphasis on the latter. Rhama may be the single most agile hero in the history of his genre, capable of amazing feats of acrobatics and martial arts; he can plow through crowds of enemies, ninja-run up rough stone walls, or make sixty-foot horizontal leaps with equal skill. Galleon is kind of like what would happen if a wuxia director made a pirate flick; it's set in some alternate reality where gravity isn't quite as insistent and everyone knows kung fu.
However, at all times, you move Rhama with the left thumbstick... and only the left thumbstick. You can use the Right trigger to grab onto walls or the B button to interact with a lever, switch, or item, but for the most part, you turn and run with the same stick. (The right stick, by comparison, is used for your inventory.)
The shorter version is that Galleon uses a sort of hyperkinetic version of the infamous Resident Evil tank controls, with a lot of context-sensitive commands built in. Rhama will automatically climb ledges or leap small gaps, and if he's walking, he'll carefully balance on beams and narrow platforms without any input from you.
This is no way to run a platformer, to be honest with you. There's a lot to like about this system, such as its presumption that Rhama does not actually want to fall to his death, but the controls never get to the point where they feel right. The "tank" system works fine for an essentially slow-moving game like RE, but in a fast-paced platformer like Galleon where you can chuck your hero forty feet into the air at the slightest provocation, it's a serious problem.
Bonus points: as far as I can tell, there's no way to control the camera in Galleon short of using the first-person free-look mode, which makes a few jumps a lot harder than they have to be.
That phrase actually sums up the whole game remarkably well: "a lot harder than it has to be." If Galleon used a more traditional control scheme, it'd be a challenging platformer set in a unique world. Instead, it's a barely playable platformer set in a unique world.
In Galleon's seven levels, you'll encounter countless hidden secrets, vast caverns and cityscapes that you can explore, and a variety of other characters who, like Rhama himself, are well-animated but have really unfortunate character models. It's not quite PSOne bad, but Lord, it doesn't look good; there's at least one moment where the characters' lack of polish makes a few scenes unwittingly disturbing. (Yes, Rhama, the girls are very pretty, but they've apparently been dead for several years. Put down the telescope now.)
When one to twelve of these poorly-animated marionettes decides it wants to kill you, the game switches into a brawling mode which devolves into button-mashing with remarkable speed. Rhama can pick up weapons like swords and pistols with which to defend himself, but he's most comfortable with his fists. Landing a strike on an enemy earns you Combat Points, and the more Combat Points you have, the more offensive options are available to you.
It's an interesting system, but it's all about hitting X to combo or Y to scatter a crowd, and the Y moves drain Rhama's life. It's frustrating, especially when your mad dodges and leaps bring you into the path of an enemy you couldn't see, or when Rhama starts automatically climbing a ledge when you wanted to get your back against a wall.
There are a few other quirks and gaffes here and there, like glitches and texture gaps, but the point's really been made. Galleon has great backgrounds and voice acting, but lousy controls, character models, combat, and platforming. Rhama deserves to be the star of a better game than this, but based upon Galleon, I doubt he'll get the chance. Pity.