Wii-Party’s Living Room Revolution

Geek Culture

Wii-Party (image: nintendo.com)

It’s not often I get approached by someone who wants to write something about a game they’ve just played. It’s even rarer for this to be anyone over the age of 30.

So when a reviewer friend’s wife wanted to share her thoughts about playing Wii-Party I was keen to hear what she had to say. It turns out that like our family, she found this Wii game to be something of a living room revolution.

I could go on, but she described Wii-Party much better:

Wii-Party (image: nintendo.com)

Wii-Party’s personalized board games and pinpoint minigames hooked me in to give it a go. But what I wasn’t expecting was such a well though through game for all the family. Well considered game play with really clever use of the Wii for mums and families.

Being married to a gaming man is a bit of a turn off when it comes to gaming yourself. I’m happy to let him take the lead playing the latest electronic entertainment with the kids, while I get on with things I’m more naturally drawn to – Facebook, foodie magazines and good coffee mostly.

Wii-Party turned the tables on our family though. There’s something about it I find endearing. Part of this comes from our family’s obsession in previous years with creating Mii’s for everyone who comes through the door – it’s become quite an art form. Seeing these familiar characters pop-up in the board games makes it feel like it’s been made just for us.

Wii-Party (image: nintendo.com)

It was enough to get me playing a few games at least. I was really surprised how easy the minigames were to play. Even on games like Wii-Play or Wii-Sports Resort with special controllers I often struggle to get the controls right. In fact if it has pointing with the Wii-mote in it I pretty much give up before I’ve started – it’s just so fiddly.

Wii-Party’s minigames seem to have learnt a thing or two since the over sensitive Wii games I’ve played before. Each one is like a little nugget of enjoyment that once I’ve finished I want to try again and again. In fact this is what we did while we were learning to play the game together – each of us would pick a game in turn before we’d all try and beat each other at it. Horse racing, Helicopter rescues, Football shootouts, Golf chipping and Fruit bouncing were all big hits with us and the kids.

Wii-Party (image: nintendo.com)

But where I think Wii-Party really hooked us in is with the different ways it brings these hundreds of minigames together. There are a couple of beautifully designed board games that look simple, but have a lot of depth once you play them. There are some two player team games like Balance Boat where you have to do well at the minigames before each balancing your Mii’s on a wobbly boat. Then there are the matching and sorting games that my daughter always chooses – they seemed to suite her ordered brain.

Our youngest (2) is often left watching rather than player – most videogames seem to cater for four players so with five of us in the family we can’t all play together. To placate him we have an old Wii-mote with no batteries so he can pretend to play along – give him a real one and he soon presses the power button in protest. But Wii-Party’s Houseparty mode meant he could join in too.

Wii-Party (image: nintendo.com)

There are all games that use your physical environment rather than just the screen to play. As a mum I’m always keen to engage in things need more imagination. One game gets a player to hide Wii-motes in the room before the others return to find them – it had us all laughing as we could hear the strange muffled notices coming from the Wii-motes in various places around the room.

Our son’s favorite though was where you lay the four Wii-motes in front of the players and then try and grab the one making the right animal sound. It’s such a simple idea but one that works really well, and feels like a really imaginative use of the technology.

The other touches that were good for our family were the time estimates for each set of games (15 to 45 minutes) as well as the ability to switch in a computer player if one for the kids gets bored. Nintendo have done their homework here.

I imagine more serious gamers won’t really ‘get’ Wii-Party, but for mums and families it’s a game that not only looks like anyone can play it, but genuinely is good for all ages and abilities.

My family are playing Wii-Party every day, and still have lots to unlock. I can’t wait for the game to be released ($49.99 with Wii Remote on Amazon) to hear what everbody else thinks of it.

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