PictoParty (Wii U eShop) Review
I wish PictoParty had come out earlier, I really do. At it’s core it’s a clone of Pictionary, but by using the Wii U GamePad it manages in ways to improve on the well known classic family game. It’s just a shame that it’s releasing so late in the Wii U’s life in PAL regions that it’ll probably go by unnoticed.
For anyone unfamiliar, the general flow of gameplay is as follows. Players take turns, with one player being dealt a word or phrase that they are challenged to draw in front of other players so that they can take guesses and identify the word or phrase being drawn. Whoever guesses correctly first is given points, and the game continues for however many turns were chosen at the outset. In PictoParty the group can choose one or more sets of words that will be shuffled and one given to each drawing player at the start of their turn.
If you’ve never played Pictionary or a similar game before, this might not sound like fun but trust me, it can be hilarious. The terms given to draw might be weirdly vague concepts, familiar characters or places. Whether you’re artistically inclined or not it’s always fun and challenging trying to condense an idea into an easy to understand drawing, especially while your group are screaming out guesses all over the place making you re-think how your drawing will turn out.
PictoParty makes this idea even more enjoyable, in my opinion, than pen and paper versions of the game thanks to its digital format. For one, the drawing is shown on the TV screen as it is being drawn. Nobody’s huddling around a little piece of paper in the middle of a table and so everyone can scream out guesses as the drawing happens. It works particularly well with the GamePad as only the person holding the GamePad can see the term they’re supposed to be drawing, and for once having a resistive touch screen and a stylus totally benefits the game. I found myself digging out that giant pen stylus that came with the DSi (remember those things? Turns out they’re not just for old people playing Brain Training) and it made drawing a breeze, far better than finger painting on a capacitive touch screen.
The other benefit of being a video game is that PictoParty can connect to the internet and download new word packs for free. There weren’t a huge number of word packs available at the time of writing, but the few that were there made for some interesting matches. Some Pokémon packs gave games a great ‘Who’s That Pokémon?’ vibe which was great, while a Star Wars pack threw weird obscure characters and proved just how badly some of us knew the names of characters outside the protagonists. For those that have the desire, you can create your own word packs for your own use or even upload them to share with the world if you’re particularly generous.
PictoParty is great fun. Had this come out earlier in the life of the Wii U, I feel it could have been a hit. In a way not dissimilar to the Jackbox games it is something instantly understood by anyone regardless of how familiar they are with traditional video games, and so is fun for anyone to play. It’s not an original concept, but taking the Pictionary idea and bringing it to a touch screen enabled, internet connected video game console genuinely adds a lot to the experience. It’s become a staple at my place for when I have friends around, and if you plan on keeping your Wii U connected and have friends around for general fun times at any point it’s really worth giving PictoParty a look.