Review

I like to think that I’m one of the most open-minded people when it comes to games, and even then, when Nintendo announced Wii Party I was somewhat disappointed. Not only was there no sign of my favourite plumber, it looked terribly generic and bland. I wondered what on earth Nintendo could’ve been thinking, essentially replacing their flagship party franchise with something with just Miis! But now, Wii Party is sitting here in my hands and boy have Nintendo proven me wrong. It’s amazingly fun, if not better than any Mario Party title I’ve ever played. It does have it’s fair share of niggles along the way, but still, it’s rather well done.

The main concept behind Wii Party is that it’s essentially a minigame compilation designed entirely around you, or at least your Miis. Every single game makes use of the Miis and presents several different modes depending on how many people want to play, and how people want to play, be it together or against each other. There are multiple categories with multiple modes of play available, and amazingly enough, Wii Party also features a Suggestions mode, where you answer a few questions asked by the strange looking host, and he decides which modes you should play. Most of these modes incorporate some of the minigames found in Wii Party in some way, shape or form. And with 80 of them, there’s heaps of variety. And best of all, it’s a very easily accessible variety. But more on that later.

As you’d expect from a game developed in similar vein to Wii Fit , Wii Play and Wii Sports , Wii Party doesn’t break any boundaries with its graphical presentation, although it does add some rather humourous style to the Miis’ usually sterile and clean environments. Colourful rollercoasters, islands, haunted houses and even graveyards all make appearances to mix things up a bit, and this diversity in environments is a nice improvement from previous titles. The Miis themselves haven’t changed a bit, but the way their faces animate during some more dramatic minigames are downright hilarious, and makes the whole game feel like something of a moving cartoon. Naturally, you’d expect it, but Nintendo has definitely nailed the best implementation of the Miis in a Wii game thus far with Wii Party .

Wii Party consists of three categories filled with varying kinds of gameplay. The first category, Party Games, is best suited to four players, while the others are developed specifically for pairs, appropriately named Pair Games, and the last one is known as House Party, where the games rather cleverly use your own rooms in your house as part of the game. Each of the games conveniently give an approximate time limit and player limit, so everyone playing has a good idea of what they’re getting into.

Each of these modes integrate several different minigames into the modes that further the play experience. Keeping in line with most of Nintendo’s releases, the game utilises only the Wii Remote so you can be well assured that the game is extremely accesible to people of all ages, particularly when combined with the very comprehensive instructions provided with each game. These small minigames are pretty obscure sometimes, ranging from swinging the Wii Remote to calm a crying baby to more simple things like racing to the end of a track filled with sheep… well… most of them are obscure but that’s what makes them really fun. We’re honest. It was particularly funny though when we skipped the instructions for the baby game and were shaking our Wii Remotes vigorously, watching as our Miis and their babies erupted into expressions of concern, annoyance and fear. All in all, the minigames included within each of the modes are perfectly put together and extremely easy to just jump in to.

Party Games is the, well, most fleshed out of the modes available in Wii Party and features games taking anywhere from as quick as fifteen minutes to as long as an hour. The one that most players will find familiar is Board Game Island, which is structured exactly like Mario Party except without the Stars, and is essentially a race to the top of an exotic island, peppered with minigames along the way to give players more rolls and get to the top faster. Globe Trot involves players using funds to travel around the globe and snap pictures of famous landmarks, and despite sounding very interesting, it’s way too drawn out to be remotely entertaining and instead becomes rather tedious, which is a shame. Another game is Mii of a Kind, a kind of “swapping” game where players negotiate with each other to collect a matching set of Miis. Rounding off the set of Party Games are Spin-Off, a kind of roulette game, and Bingo, which was disappointingly quite boring for the whole group of us who played.

For those times when players won’t have everyone around, there are a bunch of Pair Games included in the fray, where two people can either play competitively or co-operatively. These games all take no longer than 15 minutes, and include Friend Connection, a mode where friends guess things about each other and in the process either bond or create arguments with each other (believe us, we did both). Balance Boat allows players to place various Miis of different shapes and sizes onto a boat to prevent it from capsizing, and is a kind of virtual Jenga game that surprisingly works really well. Finally, Match Up is a game where players have to choose which Miis are wearing the same colours, and was a bit too boring to catch our interest for much longer.

Quite possibly the most interesting and disappointing element of Wii Party is the House Party mode, in which the game actively encourages interactions between the Wii Remote and the player’s physical environments. Animal Tracker, a game where players place their Remotes on the table and pick up the one that’s making the sound that corresponds to the animal on screen, is pretty fun and enjoyable to play, but is over way too fast – though we didn’t mind returning to it to repeat play. Hide ’n’ Hunt involves players moving Wii Remotes to other parts of the house and other players attempting to find them. Despite a well put together premise, the technology behind this game really limits it, with the Wii Remotes sometimes losing sync or just turning off when we strayed too far from the console. There are two “bomb” games in which players try to hand over a Wii Remote very carefully while holding a certain button to pass the bomb around. This mode sounds amazing on paper and was one of the first ones that I wanted to try, but it’s a bit disappointing to see the rather schizophrenic motion sensors of the Wii Remote mar the experience just a tad. Still, it’s pretty well done and kudos to Nintendo for thinking of new ways to use the Wii Remote after almost four years.

For those who just want to play the aforementioned minigames, there is a mode that enables that too. Despite the disappointing lack of some kind of online play, where it would’ve been nice to play house versus house, there are some internal leaderboards that encourage players to come back and play once they’re done. But, as I’ve said previously, Wii Party will get you as much mileage as you’re willing to put into it – there’s heaps to do here and it almost never gets old thanks to the variety included in the package. Make no mistake, this is even bigger and most probably better than most Mario Party games you’ve played in the last couple of years.

The music is what you’d expect from a Nintendo-developed Wii series game, with some simple tunes and cute sound effects used to emphasise the special effects in some levels. There’s not a whole lot to talk about here, unfortunately, but what’s there more than meets the criteria of what you’d expect.

As I’m sure you’re aware by now, Wii Party really surprised me, so much so that I have no desire to have Mario Party 9 be released now – Wii Party has not only diversified the genre to be interesting and fun, but it’s really eclipsed its predecessors in almost every way possible. Sure, the trademark characters aren’t present, but Nintendo is really on to something with allowing your Miis to be used; we know we had a lot of fun with Bob Marley, John Howard and Julia Gillard-styled Miis during our games. Wii Party is a cornerstone of any Wii owner’s library and quite possibly one of the best titles in the Wii series yet. Those who are looking for a largely solo experience should probably stay away though. A must have.

Graphics 8.0

Great use of the Miis with some well put together animations. Different environments moving the Miis out of their comfort zone add to the charm.

Gameplay 9.0

Ive yet to find someone who didnt enjoy playing Wii Party in some capacity, skeptics included. Its vast range of modes, minigames and options for all kinds of groups makes it a sure-fire winner in any household. The sheer variety and absolutely amazing accessibility make this a great package.

Sound 6.5

Its hard to really fault a game like this for having rather minimalistic audio features. The stuff youll be hearing in Wii Party is nothing too groundbreaking but at the same time sufficient.

Tilt 9.5

While it may get boring if players continually play it, Wii Party is packed with different minigames, different modes and appeals to different people, ensuring that every game plays differently.

Value 9.5

Being a huge skeptic, with very low expectations, Nintendo blew me out of the water with Wii Party. Never before have I enjoyed a party game as much as this.

Overall

After the rather disappointing Wii Music, it seems that Nintendo are on the ball again with an amazing package that almost every owner of the Wii should give a try and quite possibly own. Perfect for all ages, perfect for the skeptics, and perfect for having just pure fun, Wii Party is something magic, something Nintendo can only do.



About the Author

James Mitchell
Avid gamer since I was as young as three years old when I received my first NES. Currently studying full time and consider myself a balanced gamer. Enjoy games on all systems, from all genres, on all platforms. Sometimes feels like he's too optimistic for this industry.