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Wii-Party Wii Review

14/10/2010 Specialist Multiplayer Gamer Review
Guest author: Jon Seddon
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Wii-Party Nintendo Wii


Nintendo Wii



Further reading:
Jon Seddon
Daley Thompson's Decathlon
California Games
Warioware Smooth Moves
Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games

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Other GamePeople columnists have reviewed this from their perspective - huh?:
Family Gamer (Wii)
Domestic Gamer (Wii)
Teen Gamer (Wii)
Eclectic Gamer (Wii)
Scripted Gamer (Wii)
Reporting Gamer (Wii)
Board Gamer (Wii)

Wii-Party missed the multiplayer mark with too much luck and not enough fun. Some interesting ideas thread through the various modes, but never amount to enough for an enjoyable multiplayer family experience.

Wii-Party is a rather disappointing evolution of Nintendo's classic minigame collection series that lacks the polish of their best titles. Novelties such as playing hide and seek with the Wii Remote are fun, but the actual games seem to lack the usual spark.

Minigame collections weren't invented on the Wii, their genesis can be traced back to the 1980's and the 8bit computers where experiences such as Daley Thompson's Decathlon and California Games had families and friends competing in front of their televisions. Miniature versions of sports were captured by either exhausting stick waggling or abstract dexterity challenges. It's a cliche, but some of those games kept joystick manufacturers in business during my childhood.

With no entries in the Mario Party series for quite some time, Wii-Party arrives to fill the gap, replacing classic Nintendo characters with Miis and adding a small amount of innovation to the well tested formula of mixing a board game with bite sized fun activities for up to four players.

The amount of luck involved in the game has been a subject of some debate in our house.

The Board Game Island and Globe Trot modes provide the most substantial multiplayer experiences with their combination of dice rolling and competitive games. With each iteration though, Nintendo seem to complicate the board game aspect - adding too many ways to be relegated to the back of the field. This randomisation can be good for groups with a large disparity in skill, giving weaker players a chance to come back, but for those on the receiving end it's always going to feel unfair.

The amount of luck involved in the game has been a subject of some debate in our house. My wife takes the view that Snakes and Ladders and some of the other classic board games make luck their reason for existence and therefore this is acceptable. I think however that Wii-Party asks you to make significant investment in trying to win its minigames, but then cancels it out by pure chance. As with most things in life, balance is everything and in this case I think Nintendo got it wrong.

The minigames themselves vary widely in their quality and for me don't provide enough fun. Better recent examples are games like Warioware Smooth Moves and Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games.

Warioware has always been about turning short experiences into even shorter ones with collections of micro-games that tell a story in just seconds. They are challenging, fast paced and work because they just make you smile.

Mario and Sonic on the other hand is successful because the activity is so frenetic - the physical activity becomes as much a part of the game as the onscreen action. They also become great spectator sports at a family get together.

Working together fosters communication and strategy that lets different skill levels play together and when you don't it generates the heated excitement that seems missing from the board games.

Those memories are priceless, but I can't imagine Wii-Party ever creating new ones. Instead of all that it merely offers sedate, drawn-out games that just didn't get our hearts racing or our faces chuckling. It also suffers from not letting you access the mini-games often enough - sometimes I lost interest altogether as I was waiting for my turn, which just shouldn't happen in this instant action style of game.

Outside of the board game elements, in modes like Balance Boat where two players cooperate, there is a better sense of the Wii experience. Working together fosters communication and strategy that lets different skill levels play together, and when you don't it generates the heated excitement that seems missing from the board games.

The last trick up Wii-Party's sleeve is the House Party mode, which is something genuinely new and innovative and makes use of the Wii remote in ways that break down the boundaries of what a video game can be. Some of the games, like passing the remote between people as if it's a very delicate bomb, are fun. Others are pure genius though, like hiding the remote in the room ready for the others to return and try and find it. The Wii-motes make noises every 10 seconds and beg to be found. Points are scored for each one found making it an instant classic at any children's birthday party. It's a shame that these games weren't integrated into the rest of Wii-Party where they could add some real interactive moments.

I don't think Wii-Party is terrible, especially as it's this year's best way of picking up an extra Wii Remote, but I don't think its Nintendo's best work either. The overall package is a little lazy and although it may entertain the family for an hour or so this Christmas, I can't imagine spending much more time with it.

Guest review by Jon Seddon

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Jon Seddon wrote this Multiplayer Gamer article under the watchful eye of Sid Andrews.

"Multiplayer modes are often the only parts of a game a play. Initially this was just because I was short on time, but more recently I've realised these are simply my favourite parts."

Here are the games I've been playing recently:

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