Wii

North America

Wii Party

by Pedro Hernandez - September 30, 2010, 11:12 am PDT
Total comments: 15

8

Is this game the life of the party or the party pooper?

The release of Wii Party is a rather ironic event. The party game genre is one of the most abundant on Nintendo's system, and it's a genre that Nintendo helped make popular thanks to the likes of Wii Sports and Wii Play. Now we have Wii Party, a game that is seemingly following the trends made by the company years ago rather than re-inventing it. But after hours of gameplay I now understand what Wii Party was trying to do, and the end result is stunning.

Wii Party is in many ways a spiritual successor to Mario Party. If you are a fan of that series then you are bound to recognize several elements, such as the board gameplay and many multiplayer modes that house hundreds of mini-games. The big difference is that Wii Party strips the concept down to its bare essentials in order to make it more accessible towards the casual gaming audience. This works as a double-edged sword. On one hand, players that grew up with Mario Party will feel as if Wii Party lacks the depth and character that made the franchise so popular among many fans.

But on the other, the pacing in Wii Party is great. A common complaint about Mario Party is that it has too many things that slow gameplay down to a near halt, such as multiple traps on one game board and waiting for the player to finish his or her turn. Wii Party avoids this by speeding up gameplay. Many players feel as if Mario Party is more about luck than skill. While Wii Party also has moments when luck is needed to be successful, the overall game rewards players for their skill, and at the end of a game it is likely that the winner was indeed the best player. This creates a far more satisfying party experience where no one feels cheated. It may make the game look shallower than it really is, but considering that the Wii series has always been about inviting everyone to play and have fun, this works wonderfully.

Luckily, Wii Party does offer various modes of play for every kind of gamer. Board Game Island is more streamlined and requires less involvement from the players, where as Globe Trot emulates Mario Party's gameplay really well. In this mode, the participants play on a globe. The objective is to go to hot spots around the globe and collect souvenir photos. The player with the most photos wins the game. Again, this is a simplified version of what the Mario Party games used to be. Rather than having multiple objects and traps that slow down gameplay, Globe Trot uses a card system. Players select a card, and depending on what's on it, they can either use it right away or save it for later. This presents a level of depth that is quite easy to comprehend without ruining the whole experience. Unfortunately, there are no additional game boards to play in, and once you play them both you'll likely want a little more variety.

Like Mario Party, Wii Party features more than 80 mini-games. These range from co-operative duel games to free-for-all competitive events. One fascinating thing about these mini-games is that unlike many other party games on the system, they all focus mainly on very basic Wii Remote ideas: pointing, tilting, and using the Wii Remote as an NES controller. Sure, there are still some mini-games in which full motion is required, but they are all basic interpretations of motion control, nothing specific like swinging the Wii Remote in a certain motion. This means that the controls are very easy to learn and rarely frustrate, which makes the overall experience far more polished. Wii Party may not innovate in the same way that Wii Sports and Wii Fit did, but it retains the ideals of gameplay that anyone can learn regardless of actual skill.

These mini-games are presented throughout various game modes such as Friend Connection (in which the game measures your chemistry with a friend based on how you answer questions, as well as your performance in the co-operative mini-games) and Balance Boat, one of my favorite modes in the game. Another co-operative mode, Balance Boat features a surprising amount of depth, with ideas of weight placing being key in the execution of this mode. You and a friend must co-operate in a series of mini-games. If you successfully complete them, you get two Miis of the same size. You then must place them on the boat in a manner that doesn't tilt the boat. If you fail, however, you are given Miis of irregular size and it gets harder to keep the boat level. It is a very fun mode that is likely to become a favorite among fans.

Then there are game modes independent from the mini-games. For example, Spin-Off is a Wheel Of Fortune-esque game in which players spin a wheel and try to earn medals. Depending on where the wheel stops, medals are either earned or saved in a bank.

The most interesting gameplay modes in Wii Party lie in the House Party options. These mini-games require an amount of physical interactivity not seen in previous games, and they also use the Wii Remote in fun ways. As an example, Animal Tracker has players listening to the sounds that animals make on screen. The sound will then be repeated on the Wii Remote, and players must pick up the right controller in order to win. Time Bomb is the most intense game in the whole package. It is a hot potato-like mode that has you passing a Wii Remote around. Motion control plays a big role in this game, as players must avoid shaking the Wii Remote to prevent the bomb from exploding.

Obviously, Wii Party offers a lot of game modes to partake in. Each one features different game settings and options, such as number of participants and level of difficulty, so players can find their own preferred method of play. The main menu even lets you know the game's duration so you know how much game time you are getting out of each mode. Of course, if you are a lone player then Wii Party loses a lot of its appeal, a common drawback with multiplayer-oriented titles. Some modes don't even allow just one player, so playing them with another player is required.

In terms of presentation, the Wii series has never been about creating expansive game worlds that are rich in detail. Despite this, the simplicity of the "Wii" world and its characters has always been fascinating, and Wii Party is no exception. Once again, the Miis leave a deep impression with their simplistic but friendly nature. The usage of colors and textures is also clever, giving the game an eye-catching aesthetic that is simple yet fun to look at. Music doesn't fare as well, though. It's bubbly and bouncy and fitting for the party theme, but it's nothing that you will be humming for days on end.

All in all, Wii Party is a game that took me by surprise. It is not the most groundbreaking party game on Wii, but what it lacks in innovation it makes up for with great execution. The gimmicks and superfluous options that have plagued Mario Party and other party games have been eliminated, so we have a game that is streamlined and focused on ideas that work rather than hit-or-miss concepts. The party game genre may have overstayed its welcome on Wii, but when you have games like Disney's Guilty Party - and now Wii Party - it's OK to just sit back and have fun. This is one party you won't regret attending.

Summary

Pros
  • Excellent controls
  • Great execution of mini-games and ideas
  • Lots of gameplay modes
Cons
  • Lacks the depth of previous party titles
  • Not the ideal single-player game

Talkback

Mop it upSeptember 30, 2010

Quote:

The big difference is that Wii Party strips the concept down to its bare essentials in order to make it more accessible towards the casual gaming audience. This works as a double-edged sword. On one hand, players that grew up with Mario Party will feel as if Wii Party lacks the depth and character that made the franchise so popular among many fans.

I've never felt that Mario Party was anywhere near a complex game that needs to be simplified; in fact, Mario Party could be the original "casual" game.

Regardless, I'm hoping that, if Nintendo think this game appeals to a different crowd than Mario Party (which they seem to), perhaps they will continue that series after all. Then they could add in the features that fans have always wanted, such as online play, and create more complex minigames that use the Nunchuk or Motion Plus.

I think part of what he was getting at was explained in the next paragraph.  In Mario Party games (at least the last one, which I reviewed), there were a bunch of tutorials and other crap that got in the way of actually playing the game.

Mop it upSeptember 30, 2010

Yeah, there are definitely ways to streamline Mario Party, but it sounds like most of the minigames are also simplified. After so many party games on the Wii, most of which centering around the Wii Remote only, I want one that uses either the Nunchuk or Motion Plus. Or maybe both.

Ian SaneSeptember 30, 2010

Sounds like Mop is complaining about them CASUALIZING Mario Party. ;)  See?  Eventually it happens to everyone.  Everything is fine and good until they mess with YOUR game.

StratosSeptember 30, 2010

Mario Party was way too complex to be a casual game. My non-gamer friends and folks always tended to get confused and intimidated by the versions we played. It asked you to do too many complex things with the controller a lot of times.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterSeptember 30, 2010

As an FYI, just because they streamlined the Mario Party concept it doesn't mean that ALL of the game is easy and dumbed down. There are some very clever mini-games that do require thought and strategy, especially in the co-op mini-games. The thing is that rather than trying to force tons of motion control and crazy requirements they focused on the strategies that DO work and thus the games are much more enjoyable because of it.


Here's an example of what I am talking about...


Back when me and my friends played Mario Party 8 we were BORED out of our minds due to how slow everything was. We spent more time on the board than playing mini-games. I even played it with my nephew and we went back to Super Smash Bros. because it felt boring. Now I played Wii Party with him and we had a lot more fun, because we got into the game quickly.

Mop it upSeptember 30, 2010

The people I've played Mario Party games with have never thought they were complicated, and most of them aren't what you'd call "gamers." The games can be slow though, so we never play them if we're in the mood for action. They are great games to play when we want to sit around and talk (and drink), it's the perfect social game.

I still might get Wii Party, but I'm long past the point where I pay full price for a party game.

BlackNMild2k1October 01, 2010

I think this video just sold me* a copy of Wii Party
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akD6vi9P1ok




*I'm buying it for my mom for when guest come over
or to play hide the Wiimote with my girl

StratosOctober 02, 2010

Quote from: BlackNMild2k1

I think this video just sold me* a copy of Wii Party
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akD6vi9P1ok




*I'm buying it for my mom for when guest come over
or to play hide the Wiimote with my girl

Great video. Sold me on it too. Hide the WiiMote has a lot of potential for hilarity.

Apparently the corny DJ is a Wii Party pack-in.

StratosOctober 02, 2010

Quote from: NWR_Lindy

Apparently the corny DJ is a Wii Party pack-in.

Yet another plastic peripheral for the living room corner?

ThomasOOctober 04, 2010

Bought this game yesterday. It's pretty good, I like it.

MaxiOctober 04, 2010

I don't think we have a topic for the game. ThomasO can you make one and expand on your thoughts.

TJ SpykeOctober 04, 2010

I am debating whether I should get this or not, I won't have anybody to play it with and would be stuck playing against the computer only.

Mop it upOctober 04, 2010

Personally, I don't think it's worth it unless you have at least one other person to play the game with. This game especially, it has some games that you can't even play with one person, so you would be missing out on some of the content. If you want to play a minigame collection in single player, I'd recommend WarioWare as it works better in single than in multi.

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Wii Party Box Art

Genre Party/Parlor
Developer Nintendo
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Wii Party
Release Q4 2010
PublisherNintendo

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