You remember EyeToy, right? And all the minigame collections that went with it? Welcome to the next generation of those collections.
Start the Party is based entirely around the use of the Eye camera and a Move controller. Working in tandem, you’re projected onto the screen, and the lollipop in your hand becomes a tennis racket, or a fan, or a bug swatter, or a sword, or... you get the idea. With virtual object in hand, you must complete whatever objective the current minigame requires of you, and move on to the next game.
Let’s talk technology first. Old EyeToy games were often hit-and-miss affairs: you had to have the perfect lighting and wallpaper to make sure the camera recognised your gestures. It was often pretty frustrating — and woe betide those who tried to play at night. With the Move controller, however, all of that nonsense is suddenly taken away. The camera never loses track of the clown’s nose on the end of the device in your hand, enabling all sorts of fun tricks.
The big trick, of course, is making it look like you’re carrying objects. These objects follow every wrist rotation or arm gesture flawlessly, and the result is pretty impressive. Lag is perceptible, but never gets in the way of enjoyment — and crucially, you still feel like it’s you doing the object manipulation.
Speaking of enjoyment: how fun is the actual gameplay content of Start the Party? It’s probably best to imagine one of those EyeToy games, except it actually works well. Does that sound fun to you? If you’re under the age of, oh, ten, the answer is probably a yes.
For those not schooled in minigame collections, Start the Party has you doing anything from popping colour-coded balloon things to fanning falling birds into nests. Every minigame requires you to move the Move controller around in some unique fashion, whether it’s carefully shaving hair off a head or colouring in a random assortment of shapes. Some of the games are better than others, but none of them last long enough to get overly irritating.
It goes without saying that you should only play this with friends/children. But even in multiplayer things are fairly limited — players can never play alongside one another, instead having to take turns. Sure, it might be a bit too difficult to have two, three, or four players all waving their arms around in a confined space, but surely something could have been worked out — as it is, it feels like a missed opportunity, one that will put a crimp in your amazing plans to have a Start the Party... party.
Got kids? That’s good, because the graphics and sound effects are aimed squarely at them. For anyone with ears, I would recommend putting some music on. The presentation is fine, but like Sports Champions, comes up feeling a bit sterile — in spite of the colourful menus and loud sound effects.
The nine minigames will only go so far over a long period of time. You’ll likely be impressed by the technology when you first fire it up, but your interest will soon wane. Playing with your kids will eke things out, but eventually you’ll be looking for another game to move on to. At around $60, Start the Party is more of a game to show off what your new camera and motion controller can do to easily astounded guests. It could be good to rent, but to buy? Maybe when it hits the bargain bins.