Before I kick off this review, let me just say I love Miis. Love them to death. They make anything funny. Donâ€™t believe me? Compare Wii tennis with the new PS3 Move tennis game. OK, maybe you can get a better spin on the ball in the PS3 title, but playing as some generic character, compared to playing as a kooky version of yourself, with half your friends and family bobbing around goofily in the crowd - well, I know which version I prefer. (In fact, I think Nintendo would be on to a huge winner if they created an RPG where you picked your party out of your favourite Miis.)
But back to the game.
I know what youâ€™re thinking. More minigames? Surely Nintendo fans have already had enough minigames to last them forever. But you know what? The minigames in Wii Party are actually a lot of fun. And while the presentation is pretty bare-bones, thereâ€™s still a lot of the cheerful chaos that makes Nintendo games so much fun to play.
Another thing I enjoyed about Wii Party was the wide range of options available for play. Unless you are sitting down to the game for long hours at a time (and letâ€™s face it, this is a title to be picked up for reasonably-short periods, and quite possibly with either small children and/or technically-inept family members) itâ€™ll take you a while to get through all of the different games.
The options are organised quite well; you can choose from playing party games, suitable for one to four players, pair games, or house party games. If youâ€™re not sure what to play, there is even a suggestions menu, where the top-hatted, egg-headed ringleader will help you find just the right game for your group. And then there is the option to play the straight minigames, in free play, battle, solo, or challenge modes.
While minigames are prevalent in Wii Party, they arenâ€™t the only sort of game youâ€™ll play; in fact, the minigames usually occur as interludes in the larger games. For example, in the pair game Balance Boat, you and your partner place Miis along the yards of a sailing ship. At each of the ten different levels youâ€™ll play a random minigame to determine whether the Miis will be similarly-sized, or random, which in turn increases the difficulty of keeping all the other characters balanced. Or take Wii Bingo, where occasionally a minigame ball will drop. If you win the minigame you get the free option to mark an extra square off your card.
Thereâ€™s a good mix of games included in Wii Party. There are board games, like Board Game Island, a standard dice-roll-to-move game, with a few nasty surprises built in; memory games, like Match Up, where you have to find Miis with matching clothes; games that leave everything up to chance, like choosing fireworks and hope yours will be the biggest. There are even games that require quite a bit of coordination and skill, like About Face, similar to Bejeweled, but using a four-square rotating movement. One minute youâ€™ll be shooting cans with a BB-gun, the next youâ€™ll be herding sheep or racing to be the first to deliver a pizza to a hungry Mii. There are a few duds, to be sure, but most are surprisingly good. Thereâ€™s even 4-player zombie tag!
Also to be commended is the effort that has gone into making sure Wii Party is an actual party title. There are games here that get people off the couch; from Time Bomb, where two players have to pass the controller between them without wobbling, to Animal Tracker, where the controllers are lined up on the floor, and players race to grab the one that makes the animal sound to match the animal on the screen. Itâ€™s great to see the Wii Remote still being used in unique and interesting ways.
As well as getting party-goers off the couch, Wii Party is another title in the Wii stable thatâ€™s great for getting non-gamers to have a go. As a gaming girl with a non-gaming boyfriend, Iâ€™m always on the lookout for titles he is going to have fun with. And from him, Wii Party gets two big thumbs up.
For my score, I found Wii Party to be pretty average in terms of presentation, though I did enjoy the different costumes for the Miis in each game, as well as some pretty convincing animations when someone wins or loses. The wide range of gameplay, and different options for different types of groups, however, means that Wii Party has good value in terms of replayability, and for this I give it a solid 7.5 out of 10. Whatâ€™s more, itâ€™s a title I know Iâ€™ll definitely return to again. With the holidays coming up soon and a high likelihood of family reunions on the horizon, Wii Party is a great game to bring everyone together, for a bit of post-Christmas pud fun.