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Family Gamer (Wii)
Domestic Gamer (Wii)
Teen Gamer (Wii)
Eclectic Gamer (Wii)
Scripted Gamer (Wii)
Multiplayer Gamer (Wii)
Reporting Gamer (Wii)
Wii-Party offers more variety than a board game can. Although the pressure of time limits and reactions is sometimes too much tension for the kids, the grownups in our family can't stop playing it.
Since joining the electronic gaming masses (from the parched lands of board gaming) Wii Party has become our current go to game, particularly for the grown ups in out family. Once the kids have been put to bed, dinner has been consumed in front of the telly but we're bored after just one programme, it's too early to turn in and we can't be bothered to play a board game Wii Party is perfect for tired parents.
Let me get one thing out of the way: the main games centre around minigames. Normally I avoid such fare but these minigames -- 80 in total, apparently -- really are good ones: a mix of skill and luck and short enough to never outstay their welcome. The games that tie the minigames together are a lot of fun too and as a bonus feature all the Mii's we have created.
The game we've played the most is Balance Boat, being the one that requires the most skill. In each round, a co-operative minigame is played after which each player is given a Mii: a win secures Miis of the same size, otherwise expect wildly contrasting sizes.The Miis must then be placed on the boat's mast without causing the boat to list to the point where the placed Miis slide into the sea. Space on each horizontal is limited and typically the prime locations near the centre will become occupied early on. Surviving the full 10 rounds unlocks the advanced levels where the mast has counter weights and broken horizontals and the sea is rough.
Another game that involves cooperation is Friend Connection: answer five questions in Mr and Mrs game-show style ("What's the most fun thing about camping...?"), complete a minigame then receive an overall rating to find out how in tune you are. It only takes five minutes to play and we've found it a good late night decision-making tool -- "If we don't get a rating over 60 there will be no conjugals tonight!" (ed: no prisoners taken in your household I see.)
A mismatch in gaming skill sets doesn't spoil the fun.
We generally find the co-operative games challenging but have yet to find an effective means of communication that seems to be vital to success. Tippy Traverse involves traversing a symmetrical maze but if movement is not in unison nor corrected in time the playing surface tilts and the Miis fall off. We are often reduced to the ineffective and hysterical, "You go there... no there... why are you going over THERE...?" Luckily, we tend to find our fairly very, very funny. I've lost count of the times a minigame has timed out because I we've been helpless with laughter.
Being the more experienced gamer in our board game household, I have in theory a slight advantage over my other half but that doesn't seem to affect the gameplay too much. Not all the minigames involve a high degree of skill: a few are entirely random and a couple are so hard as to effectively be random (or worse a guaranteed fail in the case of a co-operative game). Others I just don't seem to have the necessary skills for; never, for example, count on me to hold a large pile of presents.
Ultimately, a mismatch in gaming skill sets doesn't spoil the fun because victory secures a mere advantage for the current round rather than a guaranteed win. Take, for example, Board Game island, where players roll dice to move along a track towards a hoard of treasure, landing on spaces bonus spaces and pitfalls along the way. The top three placed players in each round's minigame receives the gold, silver and bronze bonus dice respectively. However, even if you've won the best bonus dice it necessarily mean you are going to roll or be able to avoid the next pitfall.
We will always be a board gaming family, but now enjoy playing videogames too.
With this in mind I had high hopes for Wii-Party with the kids. Alas, it was not to be. Our girls simply do not enjoy the time pressure in these minigames. Our nine year old broke down in tears during her first and only co-operative minigame because it was "too competitive". Flashlight Frights involves escaping from a haunted house, repelling ghosts using a torch. "How can a co-operative be competitive?" we wondered. "Because it's us against them!" she sobbed.
Otherwise, the kids' participation is limited to helping play the main games: rolling the dice, spinning the wheel of fortune in Spin Off. The one game that is the exception here is Match Up - a variation on the traditional matching pairs card game but played with our Miis. Not only are their little neurons seemingly better wired for this kind of thing than the grown ups' but they can actually tell the difference between the three Auroras and various duplicate teachers they have created over time!
It's the variety on offer that keeps bringing us back to play it again and again. Like with Animal Crossing this offers something we simply haven't found in board games. While we will always be a board gaming family, first and foremost, we are begging to enjoy playing some videogames too.
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