Party games aren’t exactly hard to find on the Wii. It seems as though every company from Disney to 2K has tried their hand at crafting a party game on Wii because they are generally easy to develop at a low-cost and, on a family friendly system like the Wii, they do extremely well sales-wise. However, out of the 100+ “party” titles on the system, only a handful of them are ever really worth playing and even less are worth your hard-earned cash. Nintendo has already tried its hand at a party game once on Wii (not including the Wii Sports franchise) with Mario Party 8 and the result was, to put it lightly, a mediocre mess. Is their sophomore effort, Wii Party, a must-play or a party that simply isn’t any fun?
There are three primary game modes in Wii Party: Party Games, Pair Games and House Party.
The Party Games are meant for 2-4 players and usually consist of bigger and more involved games than the other modes in Wii Party. Two examples of the Party Games are Board Game Island, a game in which players must use their Miis and roll dice in order to try and reach the top of an island while playing mini-games to decide their roll order, and Globe Trot, Wii Party‘s version of the standard “Mario Party” game layout in which players collect souvenir photos in a variety of different locations throughout the world (i.e. Stars) and compete in a variety of mini-games to see who’s the best Mii around. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of Board Game Island due to the fact most of the game relied on chance and, in one section in particular where a player must roll a 4 or above to get past a fire-breathing wall, I found myself yelling at the television screen. That said, Globe Trot is extremely satisfying and really fixes the Mario Party formula by stream-lining it and making the game move faster while, simultaneously, adding more strategic options of play. If this was the only 4-player party game that Nintendo included in Wii Party, I would have been satisfied. So with that in mind, the inclusion of the Board Game Island mode for less experienced players is something that I don’t really mind.
In addition to the two party games I already mentioned, there’s also a bingo game that uses Mii faces (which I expect to be a new favorite of the expanded audience/senior-citizen crowd), a card-matching game, and, my personal favorite luck-based game in the package, Spin-Off, a Roulette/Wheel of Fortune game starring your Miis. It’s also worth noting that the mini-games in the Board Game Island and Globe Trot modes are some of the best that Nintendo has ever crafted. Not only do many of them use motion control in a way that is both interesting and fun but a variety of them also use the Miis in very funny ways. One of the best mini-games in the package involves four players taking control of helicopters that must pick up/abduct Miis that are frantically running through a town square. Its simple, easy-to-play, and extremely entertaining to watch (especially when my Mii of Dr. House was constantly falling over trying to reach a helicopter). Overall, the mini-games (80 in all) require a little more skill than the standard fare that was seen in the later Mario Party games and Wii Party is all the better for it.
In addition to the four-player Party Games, there are also modes designed specifically with couples in mind: Pair Games. One of the Pair Games, a boat balancing game that I first played at E3 2010, requires players to balance their Miis on the mast of a boat. The mast has three levels and throughout the course of the mini-games, a player must balance their Miis in a way so that the other player’s side of the boat gets too heavy and slides all of their Miis off of the mast. There is also a mode that reminds me a lot of Nintendo’s old Love Test machine in which you test your compatibility with another person by answering a variety of questions without telling the other person your answer. Of course, even if you don’t have any friends, Nintendo still has you covered with a variety of solo modes here, the best of which is a 30 level puzzle game in which the player must manipulate a group of Miis to water plants so that they don’t shrivel up and die.
That said, the best overall mode in Wii Party is House Party. In this mode, players must take into account the environment of the play space (i.e., the living room, back porch, T.V. room, etc.) as a key component of Â the games. While you can play these games with two people, I would advise, if you have two other friends, to play them with four players. They are a ton of fun and are the most “party friendly” of the games included in Wii Party. What do I mean by “Party Friendly”? I mean that, realistically speaking, if you were to pull out Wii Party during an actual social event and not just when a few of your friends are over, these are the games that would be best suited for the setting. They are short, don’t require much explanation, and are the most interesting games in the package.
One of these games will have players hiding Wii Remotes around the room for the one player left out to find. However, instead of just normal hide-and-seek, bird chirps and various other sounds will periodically echo from the Wii Remote’s speaker providing clues to their whereabouts. Another game has players pass the Wiimote around as if it’s a bomb. A player must hold a button on the Wii Remote, pass it to another, and the next player then has to press a button as he or she receives it. If they don’t, or if they shake it too much, the bomb will explode and send the loser sky-high. It’s essentially the party-classic Hot Potato meets 2009 Best Picture The Hurt Locker. The best House Party game though, Animal Tracker, has you place 4 Wii Remotes on a table and asks you to pick up the one making the correct sound of the animal that is being featured on the screen. As demonstrated below by WiiFolderJosh, this is a ton of fun with a bunch of people.
Be warned, if you don’t have friends you probably won’t like Wii Party. The game is tailored around multiple players and even if you attempt to play the Globe Trot or Board Game Island modes alone, you probably won’t have fun. While this is more of a fault of the “party game” genre and not of Wii Party itself, it’s still worth mentioning. However, if you are looking for a great game to pull out at parties or to play with your friends on a Saturday night, you can’t go wrong with Wii Party. The immense amount of game modes and mini-games that are included in the package make entrance into this party well worth the price of admission and you will certainly find yourself laughing out loud with your fellow players on numerous occasions. Even with the lack of online multiplayer, it serves its part well as a breath-of-fresh-air reboot to the now stale Mario Party franchise and is easily one of the best party games on Wii. And, on a system that made its name through social gaming and local multiplayer mini-game fests, that praise is certainly nothing to scoff at.
VGTribune gives Wii Party an 8.0/10
This review was based on a copy of the game provided by Nintendo.
DISCLAIMER: Wii Party is not guaranteed to help you steal cute girls from their idiot “bro” boyfriends.