Wii Party ReviewJordan Weagly
Wii Party is enjoyable among four friends or a smattering of casual party-going gamers who have never played it before. It's simple and therefore accessible to a casual, partying crowd, but this simplicity limits the long-term value. So, unless you are constantly having parties and inviting new people who have never played it, this title will probably be collecting dust before long.
Make no mistake; this game does pretty well in a party because it relies on a familiar formula. Wii Party is essentially a less intense version of Mario Party that forfeits Mario's crew for user-generated Miis. These graphics are consistent with other Wii titles and work well for the platform, but this game leans heavily to the cutesy pink design scheme which might throw some gamers off base.
The Wii Remote functions well in this game with simplistic and mostly intuitive controls which propel over 80 genuinely fun mini games. Wii Party has an impressive amount of content, a huge variety of ways to play mini games, and 5 decent mini game play modes. Nonetheless it's hard to get into the game when so many modes and mini games rely on sheer luck. A breakdown of the game categories and modes reveals that the weaknesses of this game far outweigh the strengths.
There are three major game categories: Party Games, House Party, and Pair Games. The House Party category is the strongest and includes 5 separate games. These games use the Wii Remote in interesting ways by involving the room in which the game is being played.
In Animal Tracker, players place four remotes on a surface. An animal comes on screen to make a noise, and players must grab the echoing remote to win. This is a hilarious game at parties and among small groups of friends, though after a few rounds it's much less exciting. Hide'n'Hunt is basically hide and seek with Wii Remotes instead of people. This produces some hilariously misguiding dialogue among players and encourages some interesting social interactions. Time Bomb requires quick and careful passing of the remote. Fun, short, and entertaining. Word Bomb requires players to say a new word in a specific category then pass off the remote. This is the more socially involved of the two games since it requires talking and verifying answer. Buddy Quiz is OK, but it's more or less a game to prove who knows who best. After a few tries at this, I can't imagine anyone wanting to play it again.
The next category, Party Games, includes the two Mario Party style board games: Board Game Island and Globe Trot. While these game modes are solid, they are also static. After playing each board game a few times I haven't gone back. The other 3 games in this category are much shorter and much less fun. Sadly, my core group of video game friends will probably never play 4 out of the 5 Party Games again.
Board Game Island is pretty fun and feels much like a real board game though obviously a bit more dynamic. Board Game Island can get pretty boring quickly, however, because there is only one map that never changes. Otherwise this is the best all around game mode in this category. Globe Trot is similar in that it feels like a board game. It's also a quasi geography lesson because players travel around the globe while attempting get souvenir photos from specific hot spots (much like stars in Mario Party). This game takes a long time and is too involved for a true party atmosphere because it seems to drag towards the end.
Swap Meet has players making two groups of three Miis wearing the same color shirt. Mini games determine who goes first each round and how many chances you get. Though this game is mildly entertaining, it's lackluster at best and isn't much fun the second or third time.
Spin-Off is pretty much Wheel of Fortune without the letters. This gets boring quickly since the entire of the game is basically adding or subtracting medals to your score (the highest medal count after 10 rounds wins). One of the worst parts about this game (besides the possibly of losing or winning solely in the final round) is the poor incorporation of mini games. You could play all 10 rounds, theoretically, without playing any.
Bingo is the final Party Game. That's pretty much all there is to say: it's bingo and it's pretty lame.
Pair Games are the final category which includes three different games. Of these three games, only Balance Boat has any replay value, and is the strongest game mode in Wii Party.
Succeeding at a mini game in Balance Boat gives you two equally sized Miis which makes it easy to balance them on a wobbly boat. Failure produces a huge Mii and a tiny Mii which is obviously much more difficult to balance. Even though it's good, one major flaw limits this game: the maximum score, every time, is 20. This is frustrating, but otherwise Balance Boat has the best mini game incorporation overall. Friend Connection is filled with hearts and pink and cute questions. After five questions which both players answer, the pair plays a co-op mini game and gets a Pair Ranking based on how many questions you answered the same way and your success (or failure) in the mini game. This game would best be enjoyed, I would think, by teenage girls and their annoyed teenage boyfriends. Match-Up is a bit more universally fun because it is a memory game that takes place among Miis and their shirt colors. This mode is an interesting spin on typically card-based memory games, but is still pretty limited.
With all this in mind, it's clear that Wii Party is a fun but essentially limited game that certainly won't be the life of any party I attend (I'll stick to Wii Sports Resort for that). This game is meant for a younger audience but unlike some of the better Wii titles, this one doesn't have the depth to keep me or anyone I know hanging on for long. This game fails to deliver the explosion Wii-Related fun that my family of friends (with over 350 hours of Mario Kart Wii and over 200 hours of Wii Sports Resort logged) have come to expect from big Nintendo titles. Instead, I'm left wondering what else I could have spent 50 bucks on.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.