The Wii has certainly filled a niche for atrue ‘family’ console, with its huge back catalogue of kid friendly titles designed to fully integrate the player with the motion sensitive Wii remote, it’s been the forerunner in universally appealing gaming. Up until recently, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 have been fighting for the attention of the hardcore gamers, but alas, Nintendo couldn’t hold the market forever, and both other consoles have decided to branch out into motion sensitive gaming, with both Kinect and Move forcing Nintendo to try and pull something out the bag to show they can hold their own against the big guns.
The latest offering from Nintendo comes in the shape of Wii Party, a mini game orientated collection with an emphasis on group and family interaction, just like a good percentage of the rest of the Wii’s back catalogue then, really. So with all that said, does Wii Party cut the mustard and rise to the top of the already jam-packed world of Wii party titles?
The game is split into several different areas, with the main modes focusing on between two and four player gaming. The ‘Party Games’ section includes a board game like mode which sees players rolling dice, completing mini games and making their way across the board, landing on a variety of positive and negative squares along the way that effect how the board pans out for the players. The globetrotting mode sees players traipse across the world, taking photos from different locations, the player with the most souvenirs at the end being the winner.
There are many similarities between these two modes and the Mario Party series, bar the obvious lack of one red-capped plumber. These familiar grounds are intentional, and Wii Party does a great job of keeping the feel of the Mario games while cutting out some of the annoying features that slowed play on some of the Mario Party titles.
Other modes are available in the ‘Party Games’ section, including a gameshow mode, where players spin a wheel to fill and empty a bank of medals, playing mini games along the way with the person at the end of the game with the most medals being announced the winner, and a bingo game where the players aim to complete a bingo card of Mii faces. These main modes are varied enough to keep you coming back for a while, and there’s enough play elsewhere to stop things getting boring.
Modes are also available for pairs to play, including a boat balancing game, which sees two players completing mini games successfully to get two equally sized Mii’s that need balancing on a boat. Failing a mini game throws two odd sized Mii’s your way, making the boat difficult to balance. Even though the game is at its peak when played with a group, the pair games are fun enough when you fancy something quick and easy on a lazy Sunday evening.
You don’t have to endure family time with this one though, but it is highly recommended; the single player modes are neither that interesting or challenging enough for you to want to devote any serious time to them. The only enjoyable single player fun comes in the shape of a couple of puzzles that see you completing level based challenges such as shifting Mii’s about to houses that match the colours of their t-shirts and directing Mii’s in the right direction to water plants. You can play many of the other modes in the game alone with computer controlled Mii’s, but the game only really comes to life when played in a room full of friends.
You can play most of the family oriented games alone too, with the other players being taken up by computer AI folks, but half the fun of Wii Party is lost when you haven’t got anyone to throw nearby objects at when they happen to be declared winner.
With 80 mini games to blast through there’s plenty of variety, despite a few dud games along the way, but this is acceptable when you have such a high volume of content. Some of the mini games thrown up in each of the modes include balancing presents with the Wii remote, shooting ranges where you have to take out bad guys without shooting the civilians, kart racing and chopping up vegetables. You aren’t restricted to simply pointing the remote at the screen and clicking away, you’re often called to turn the controller around, using the D-Pad to move your Mii while the 2 button controls other actions. Other games require you to shake and swing the remote to victory. The game is ‘new player friendly’, but don’t expect none-gamers to totally get this straight away, when mini games are thrown at you in high succession and you’re called to turn the remote this way and that, it may take some people a bit of getting used to.
If you get bored of shaking dice and playing the usual mini games, Wii Party does a few clever things to mix things up a little. A time bomb mode sees players pass the remote between up to four people – the first player carefully holds a button on the remote and passes it to the next player who then has to press another button, trying not to disturb the remote as you pass it in order to not blow it up.
You can also play hide and seek with up to four remotes, which boasts huge entertainment value when you watch your friends run around the room hunting for remotes that you’ve sneakily hidden in ridiculous places that they will never think of. These modes are some of the best available in Wii Party; they break away from the norm and get you doing something different and altogether fun, bringing a whole new level of entertainment.
You can play any of the mini games at any point from the free play screen, but this is practically pointless because of the length of them. It’s fine to play the one-minute long mini games in the main modes, but some of the games are screaming to be lengthened. It would have been great for some of them to have been expanded into level based stand alone challenges, similar to that seen in Wii Play and Wii Fit. This would have perhaps heightened the appeal for singe player, something which isn’t predominant in Wii Party.
Most of these games have been crafted well, but a few games will leave you frustrated thanks to poor controls. One game will see you rocking a baby back and forth to stop it crying, but despite following the instructions shown before the game starts, the baby will often act unresponsively, leaving you shaking the controller angrily while nothing seems to be going on. This is only the case for a few of the games, but it’s enough for you to dread playing certain titles when they show up.
The Wii is living in the past where graphics are concerned, and its second generation looks are something you should come to expect from most of the consoles catalogue, and this is no exception. It’s not a bad thing though; it’s a charming, colourful adventure, similar to that seen in games like Wii Play and Wii Fit. Either way, it doesn’t really need to be exceptionally beautiful; the simple, bright layout is perfect for the game in question.
All in all, if you’re planning on having a party soon, or want some extra entertainment for Christmas day, then Wii Party is definitely something you will want to get your hands on. It’s perfect for inexperienced gamers, and even if you don’t fancy a full-on gaming experience there’s always the option to whack out the Wii remote and partake in a bit of hide and seek or even see how long you can keep up passing the time bomb. If you look too deep into Wii Party it’s easy to see its flaws, and while there isn’t much point if you don’t plan on playing this with friends, if you’re having friends over or want some Christmas entertainment, Wii Party is second to none.
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