If Wii Party were a natural disaster, it would rank somewhere up there with the Haiti earthquake. If it were a fast spreading lethal virus, it would surpass the Black Plague and go on to be rivaled only by one other: the eagerly anticipated zombie apocalypse that will no doubt end us all. No matter how I choose to describe it, I know one truth: Wii Party has got to be compared to something really big.
[image1]I'm glad the website lists the number of games contained on this disc, because frankly, I have lost count. With 13 party games and 80 mini-games, the sheer magnitude of activities makes Wii Party a great deal all on its own. Some of the mini-games are real gems that will hold your attention for hours.
Wii Party is split into four major sections, and one of these is split further into four subcategories. You've got your Party Games, which are good for one to four players and can take up to an hour to complete. Here, mini-games are randomized and sprinkled into a larger goal. Next, you have your Pair Games, where two players accomplish a cooperative goal.
The third umbrella of games is House Party. Aptly named, these are great games where you'll pass the remote throughout the room. They're quick, easy, and incorporate the surroundings into play. The fourth section wins points for the most creative heading ever... Minigames. It's really just a database of all the minigames in the game, including a few additional ones that take more time and effort than the usual mini-game.
Because there are too many mini-games to describe in detail, it's only fair to highlight a handful. And in all honesty, you've probably played a version of these games elsewhere anyway. The novelty that Wii Party brings to the table, though, is staggering variety and Nintendo's trademark cute-factor.
[image2]Party Games features a board game that feels a lot like Mario Party without all the candy and coins. The mini-games are randomized, so each play through the mode is a much different experience. Some highlights include one that plays almost exactly like Cooking Mama, and a bingo game where special minigame balls are added to the bingo ball machine, so sometimes you'll have to compete for the chance to mark off a square on your bingo card.
House Party's hide and seek game was the clear winner when my daughter's friends visited. Craftily making use of the speakers in the remote, it has one player hide the remotes while the others leave the room. When the seekers return, speakers in the remote chime every ten seconds until they are found or time runs out The countdown turns this innocuous child's game into a frenzy. Whether you assume the role of hider or seeker, the experience is amazingly fun.
The Buddy Quiz also might seem innocuous, but it fuels teen angst and is strangely fun to watch unfold. Like the Newlywed Game, players must choose the best answer that they think matches their friend (chocolate or strawberry ice cream, their favorite color, etc). The player with the most right answers wins. If you ever doubted how competitive and vicious girls can be, question their BFF-ness. Just make sure you do it from a safe distance!
Pair Games holds a special place on the roster, since they really require a lot of communication. In one, partners work to balance passengers on a tipping boat. The outcome of the mini-games determines if you'll get passengers that weigh the same or if you'll have to rectify the placement of a chubby and a skinny one. Playing with my boyfriend, these games felt a little like a very cheap, non-threatening form of couple's therapy. Just like a real relationship, failure led to finger-pointing and raised voices, while victory meant keeping our criticisms to ourselves (at least for the time being). I don't know if a family that plays together stays together, but one that wins together definitely has a better chance than a pair of losers.
[image3]The Challenge subcategory of Minigames mode was where I spent most of my time and had the most fun. This area contains what most would consider casual games that only take a few moments to learn but can hold your attention for hours. Two of these pass my test for casual games with flying colors. One is a Bejeweled analog called About Face that is every bit as good as the online game (and much cuter by a mile). The other is called Garden Gridlock, a a commendable puzzle game with lots and lots of stages. If you've played WiiWare games such as Bruiser & Scratch, or tried Puzzle Dimension on Steam, then Garden Gridlock will feel familiar.
As I've come to expect with these types of titles, Nintendo has created a vehicle in Wii Party that allows them to trot out their strongest horses. Sound, vibration, and movement are incorporated deftly into play. Graphics are kept simple, yet inviting. With its shotgun approach to casual entertainment, everyone will find something to like. Be it a two-minute diversion or an hour-long commitment, a rainy day activity or a reason to throw a party, you'll find it here.
If Wii Party was trapped in a mine for 70 days, it would discover the richest vein of ore and find a way to get it to the surface before ever asking for a sip of water. Too soon? I'm just saying. In terms of mini-game variety, I know exactly what it feels like to hit the motherload.