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The Wii, in its standard definition, waggle-filled lifetime has become the  home of the “party game.” De rigueur collections of mini-games that are designed to be simple slices of gaming, cut up and served for general public consumption. They are sometimes, as is the case with Warioware, deliciously addictive morsels; while more often than not, they’re the scrapings of the bottom of soup kitchen pots.

Wii Party is the latest marquee title from Nintendo, following Wii sports, Wii Play, Wii Music and Wii Sports Resort and is – as if the Wii needed more – a collection of mini-games. Is it the cream that it rises to the top, or is it as bland as skimmed milk?

That, really, depends on you. Wii Party is a rather extensive congregation of mini-games; a stockpile of both borrowed clichés and fresh, imaginative ideas. You’re given immediate access to 80 of them, split in to three categories; Group play, pair play and house party.

Board

Group play is intended for up to four players, and within it you’ll find specific game modes. Board Game Island is, at it’s heart, Snakes & Ladders re-imagined. Players roll dice, moving spaced based on the roll. The aim, naturally, is to reach the end of the board – a trap-laden island – before the other players. It plays out  like a standard board game, made interesting by the interspersed mini-games and special tiles. It’s simple, but with 4 players it becomes a quite competitive, intense affair.

Globe trot would be instantly familiar to players of this game’s obvious antecedent, Mario Party. It practically is Mario Party, eschewing Nintendo mascots in favour of the Wii’s ubiquitous Miis. It too is a board game of sorts, but instead of racing to the end, the goal is to take souvenir photos – at a cost of 10 coins – at 3 landmarks spread across the globe. Coins are earned by winning the various mini-games you’ll encounter.

Those are the two main group play modes, but the category is bolstered – albeit weakly – by more mundane offerings like Finding Matching Mii’s, Mii Bingo, and Spin Off; in the style of a gameshow where the aim is to win medals through spinning a wheel.

Boat

Pair Play offers similar Mii matching nonsense, pared down for 2 player play. Its other wares are somewhat more interesting. Friend connection allows two people to answer the same series of questions, seeing how similarly they answer. Balance boat, however, is the best pair game on offer. You and your co-operative partner at tasked with placing 20 Mii’s on three-masted ship, a pair at a time, like Noah’s Ark – if it were used for human trafficking – and maintaining its precarious balance in the water. A mini-game before each round determines the size of the Mii’s that can be placed. Winning ensures that both characters are of the same size and weight. Losing, however, gives you mismatched Mii’s, making it much trickier to retain equilibrium.

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timebomb

The highlight though, is undoubtedly House Party. It’s an unconventional series of games that show a much cleverer, outside-the-box thinking. Time Bomb has the group (up to 4 players) passing a single Wiimote – a timed bomb – around, making sure a button is held during the relay. Moving the sensitive controller around too much, failing to press the right button or running out of time cause the bomb to explode – making for a fun and frantic experience. Word bomb is similar, but has players passing around the bomb using word association within a specific category. if your answer isn’t to the recipients standards, the bomb explodes and you’re eliminated. Animal tracker has you lay out your Wiimotes on a table, with players frantically grabbing for the one that emits the sound of the on-screen animal. Hide ‘n Hunt proved to be both fun and frustrating. One player has to physically hide the Wiimotes in the play area, with the other players tracking them down within a time-limit, following the subtle sounds emitted by the Wiimote’s speaker. Fun, but a great showcase of how deceptive one’s own hearing can be.

fruit

Conclusion

The enjoyment you get from Wii Party, as I said, depends on you. It’s certainly one of the finer collections of casual gaming available on the platform, but if you’ve had it up to your eyeballs with mini-games, this likely isn’t going to reignite your interest. It is something though, that’s a bona fide hit with two particular segments of the population; Young children, and people who like alcohol. I played the game with the drunken louts I call my friends, and the next day with the kids and both groups had a blast. If you lack either the hormones necessary for puberty, or well…sobriety, you’re going to have a lot of fun.

Like Wii Play, Wii Party comes bundled with a Wii remote, making it a pretty good value proposition if you’re in the market for another controller. Unlike Wii Play though, there’s more than 5 minutes of fun to be had.

Scoring

Gameplay 7

Uneven mini-games. Lots to do in little bits.

Sound 7.0

Light-hearted sound effects, inoffensive music and melodies. The sounds through the Wiimote speaker are nicely done though.

Presentation 6.0

Like Wii Sport and Wii Play, menus are simple – but bland and boring. Only character is a pink-suited muppet ringmaster.

Value 9.0

The sheer number of available games, and the inclusion of a bundled Wiimote gives the package excellent value. This’ll make an excellent stocking filler for the casual gamer.


Overall 7.3

If you regularly have gaming parties, and groups of willing friends – or if you have young children, Wii Party will likely be your party game of choice. It really is only fun with multiple people though, so if you have no one to play this with, maybe you should go outside for a bit instead?

[Reviewed on Wii]

Last Updated: November 1, 2010

Wii Party
Summary
7.3

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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