Support Andy, click to buy via us...
Family Party draws on pretty much every party game there is on the Wii. But rather than a simple copy-cat production, it delivers an experience that is graphically superb, wide-ranging in activities and simply a lot of fun to play.
Minigames come in a variety of shapes and sizes. What unites the genre is the speed with which players can pickup the games and the relativley short time requried to complete a level or two.
Family Party provides a tour de force of minigame activities on the Wii. The newcomer instantly gives Mario and Sonic at the Olympics Wii a run for its money - with a wider range of activities and more diverse controls. Even our favourite Sport Island (Decca Sports) seems limited in what it has to offer.
But Family Party doesn't aim to replace these games, it steers clear of the more involved and longer experiences of Mario and Sonic, and it keeps the controls simpler than the nuanced touches of Sport Island. This decision is testament to how well they understand their particular audience and the game they have created. This fast and furious arcade rush of activities provides an exhilarating thrill ride that everyone will want to play.
The game offers a good coverage of different game types. The games are grouped into types of activity: Track n Field, Playground, Co-ordination, Carnival, Brain games and Strength. These somewhat arbitrary categories are useful as they show that there are games they cover most of the areas seen in other Wii minigames.
What's more this is all done with some style. The visuals are among the best I've seen on the Wii, even including first party games like Legend of Zelda: Twighlight Princess, Super Smash Brothers Brawl and Mario Kart.
The whole experience benefits from all this and feel like it could genuinely be released in the arcades. There is a real polish to both the look and feel and the dynamics and controls of each experience. Time has obviously been invested to get this game right.
The attention to detail of many events makes this a great game to play in groups. Players are draw to it for different reasons, but soon find there is much more here than meets the eye.
Our group loved the gymnastics event that had us swinging the Wii-mote as we ran up to a vault, before holding A+B, followed by more well timed gesturing to land the perfect jump. This was then followed by t he very different barrel toss. Here, the player holds the Wii-mote sideways and holds B as they pull and jerk it up - throwing the on screen barrel over their shoulder. The trick was to keep the controller horizontal during the movement to ensure the barrel flew straight and hit the target zone. Sweaty, hilarious and Ingenious.
Multiplayer games can be customised to suite the number of players and time available. You can pick from rounds unlocked in the single player. So - and this is one of our few gripes - you really need to invest a bit of play time before playing in a group to ensure you can a good selection of activities.
The complexity of some events make them a little too tricky for very young players. But slightly older novice gamers (with a couple of year of school under their belt) will lap this up. The bright family characters are soon given names of their own as the game becomes part of the furniture of weekends at home.
Intermediates should find this a challenge they want to keep coming back to. The single player offers plenty of opportunity for improving and keeps track of console, and personal best scores.
Even experts should appreciate the arcade style of these games and their ability to draw a crowd. Not since Mario and Sonic at the Olympics have we had so many people in our house literally queuing up to play..
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: