Does this game make you go "squee"?
When you are developing a Wii game in a genre as abundant as the mini-game collection, it can be hard to innovate with it. Developers tend to either focus on motion controls and create unique mini-games that use them, or create a solid theme that leverages familiar concepts with lots of character. Squeeballs Party does a little of both, and the results are commendable, even if its doesn't quite reach its full potential.
Squeeballs Party is a mini-game compilation starring ball-shaped creatures called the Squeeballs. They live on an island where they participate in rigorous tests that truly abuse them for the sake of quality; once they pass these tests, they are sent to toy stores around the world. Despite the cute exterior there's a little bit of black humor in how these creatures are abused, though it never gets to the point where you feel bad for them. If you enjoy cartoon humor like that found in shows like Tom and Jerry and SpongeBob, then Squeeballs Party should please.
The tests are presented in the form of mini-games, such as bowling, painting, and even cooking (in a fashion similar to Majesco's Cooking Mama series). Despite the game box's claim that there are 150 mini-games, in actuality there are 11 main games, with the being variations of the main games or the same games with different rules. While this doesn't ruin the overall game, it is quite disappointing, and the player can't help but feel that the game doesn't quite offer what it promises. This is a shame, since the main games are quite funAlso, if you have played other mini-game compilations on Wii, Squeeballs will feel very familiar. In other words, it doesn't quite innovate within the genre.
Another annoyance is that only a handful of the games are unlocked at the start, and the only way to unlock the rest is to play through all iterations of the unlocked games. This is a very tedious way of extending the game's life that also affects the multiplayer, since you can't play all of the games in that mode unless you have previously unlocked them. Luckily, there is a cheat code that unlocks everything in the game, which alleviates the issue a bit.However, when this cheat code is enabled, the game does not save your progress.
In terms of Wii Remote controls, Squeeballs Party does a pretty good job, even if some of the motions feel familiar. You'll bowl, slice and dice, guide an electric rod, cook and shoot your way through the mini-games and have no issues learning the ropes. The controls aren't doing anything new, and thus the experience might feel familiar, even if it's quite solid.
The overall presentation proves to be one of Squeeball Party's strongest assets. The characters are very colorful and very well-animated. Each mini-game begins with a fun cutscene that sets the mood perfectly. The music is also charming, with a quirky sound that directly contrasting the abuse that the characters are experiencing on-screen. The sound effects are also on the dime, featuring a lot of high-pitched screams and other sounds of physical abuse.
Squeeballs Party is a title that doesn't aim to innovate in terms of Wii technology. Its promise of 150 mini-games is deceiving; with most games being derivations of a single type, and unlocking extra games is a chore. But its colorful presentation, lovable characters, and overall solid execution makes Squeeballs Party worth trying out with your friends and family (unless they are put off by the abuse of adorable cartoon characters).