We're Having A Party
If there's one genre that the Wii has seen enough of it's the party game genre. You have your Raving Rabbids, Mario Parties, board game party games, and those are just the notable ones. We're not even counting shovelware which plagues the system's library. Nintendo along with developer ND Cube (made up of some of the Mario Party series staff) are throwing their collective cap into the ring with Wii Party. Is this party a rip-roaring good time, or is this as much fun as a 21+ year old party without a kegger?
Right away you can tell that Wii Party does not skimp on features. There's over fifteen different modes to tackle either solo, against or with another player, 1 vs 3, or with four players. The first main mode to be discussed is Board Game Island. This mode is essentially your traditional Mario Party board where the goal is to get to the top of the island first with a roll of the die or dice in most cases. At the start of each round (rounds are defined by all four players taking one turn per round) with a minigame. The player that comes in first place is rewarded with two dice-- both of which count up to the number six. Second place gets a silver die as a bonus to their regular die with the numbers 1 to 3 on it, and third place gets a bronze bonus die with numbers 1 to 2 on it. Last place gets no bonus die. Along the way you'll be blocked by various obstacles where the goal is to roll a number equal or higher to the specified number or else your progress is impeded. There's a boatload of unique spaces to land on from moving a player up a select amount of spaces to conversely losing ground with an unlucky roll. This mode is one of my favorites even if there's only one board to choose from unlike Mario Party.
Then there's Globe Trot where the goal is to venture around a bright blue globe stopping at various attractions along the way for souvenirs. These souvenirs are like power stars in Mario Party. At the start of each round a minigame is played to determine player order as well as who wins coins for their performance in the minigame. These coins are used to purchase said souvenirs as well as helpful cards from shops to move up to eight spaces. Instead of rolling a die, Globe Trot has players selecting one of five cards to move about. Once ten rounds has expired, it's time for overtime where the player to get the next souvenir hot spot wins two souvenirs for the price of one. Globe Trot has its pluses, but I didn't enjoy this mode as much as the others.
Swap Meet is all about Miis. The goal is to play a minigame to determine player order (a custom you should expect by now), and get two rows of matching colored-outfits Miis in a 2x3 row. Players literally swap out Miis from their collection of six in order to match two rows. Each time a 2x3 is made, the next set commences. You can tinker the amount of sets played to three or five. Bonus points are awarded for having platinum Miis in your lineup and especially if you get three platinum shirt colored Miis in a row. This mode challenges you to think about your opponents' next moves as you try to sabotage their chances of selecting the right Miis.
Spin-Off might remind you of Wheel of Fortune in a sense as you spin a gigantic wheel covered with spaces such as lose medals, win medals, add medals to the bank, and minigame spaces to name a quadruplet. The idea behind Spin-Off is to land on the minigame spaces in order to duke it out for the medals inside the bank. With 2X and 3X multipliers the bank can get quite big in a hurry. Watch out though as landing on a 1/2 space will halve all of your hard-earned medals. I particularly like this mode as it doesn't take too long to play-- maybe less than a half-hour, and it's always a race to see who can land on a minigame space and know that it all comes down to one game to determine whether you're a champ or chump.
Finally in the main modes, there's Bingo. Players start off by selecting a 4x4 bingo sheet full of faces of their Miis. A giant sphere twists and turns letting out one bingo ball. If that Mii is on your card, you check it off. The premise here is to get four in a row either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. Occasionally, a minigame ball will pop up. The winner of this will get to choose any Mii on their card to mark off. Out of all the modes, Bingo takes the least amount of time with fifteen minutes max to play.
Off the beaten path, there's pair games involving two players to work together to achieve a common goal. Friend Connection is the gimmick-iest of the pair games. You and your partner answer silly questions about one another and the other player tries to guess your answers. That's only half of the equation as you also play a pair minigame in order to see your friend rating. It's a great way of figuring out how good of friends you are with someone... not. There's also Balance Boat where each round you play a pair minigame. If you win, the Miis you have to set on a boat and hope it doesn't tilt over will be equal in weight. Fail, and one of the Miis will be bulkier than the other. It takes a calm hand and mind in order to achieve victory and not witness a shipwreck. A word to the wise, playing with the CPU on this game is an effort in frustration as the AI does not understand the concept of teamwork. Finally, there's Match-Up where several Miis are dressed up with question marks for shirts. The goal is a lot like those old Memory games for toddlers where you select two Miis of the same color to score a point.
If the presiding games are too conventional for you, then you can always try the gimmicky House Party games. The first game is called Animal Tracker where the goal is to pick up the Wii remote that matches the sound of the animal on the screen. Hide 'n Hunt has one player hiding the Wii remote in a room. The only hint the players have is an intermittent chiming of the Wii remote. Lastly, there's Time Bomb where the goal is to carefully pass the Wii remote back and forth between players or else the bomb will go off in an unfortunate Mii's hand. There's two other modes, but they're not much to look at in all honesty.
The bread and butter of all party games are the minigames included, and Wii Party is packed with them. Thankfully, only three of the eighty-plus purely involve luck while the others are all about skill. One game you'll be reminded of Whack-A-Mole as you hammer down moles of different colors (brown and gold) for points. You'll speed around and battle in the cosmos as you wear superhero outfits. You'll waggle the Wii remote in order to slice and dice a carrot as fast as possible. Those are just the four player games. There's also solo, pair, and 1 vs. 3 minigames to tackle as well. One game has you using teamwork to get through a puzzle-filled temple to reach the goal while another will have players stepping on buttons to help one another pass across a sky-high maze. The 1 vs. 3 games have one player trying to sling a beach ball at opponents to knock them from a beam overlooking the warm water. Each game offers a different control scheme. Sometimes you'll be tilting the Wii remote to drive while others you'll be pointing at the screen to grab objects or mess with a players field of vision. The games are simple enough to learn but tough to master which makes it all the fun to complete them.
Wii Party isn't the prettiest game on the system. Textures aren't terrific, visuals aren't too impressive, but the game chugs at a steady framerate no matter what goes on. It still isn't old seeing your Mii inside one of Nintendo's worlds. Meanwhile on the sound scape of things, the music is appropriately lively and catchy, and the sound effects are on par with other games in the genre. Note: about average. Your host doesn't actually speak unless gibberish is your way of speech. Overall, the presentation package isn't half bad.
While there isn't too much to unlock in Wii Party, this is a game best played with friends rather than solo. Although the computer doesn't cheat as much as in the Mario Party franchise which is a sigh of relief from this reviewer. Get a good group of friends and enjoy this party game as it's a mighty fine one. Before you'll see everything this get-together has to offer, you'll probably still be playing into the wee hours. Wii Party gets a solid recommendation and a admirable score to match.
[SuperPhillip Says: 7.75/10]