Nothing provokes indignation like a newly announced party game. Something about the candy-coated visuals and casual appeal just crawls under the skin of gamers that have devoted years to honing their skills. However, what drives ire the strongest is the fact many developers approach these games with a cavalier attitude. They assign their B-team’s B-team and design shallow mechanics around a cacophony of forgettable mini-games. Thankfully, Nintendo has invested far too much into these expanded markets and simply cannot risk cheesing it in such a manner.
Pictured: Party games... apparently
Wii Party is an interesting project as it seems to be a spiritual sequel to both Wii Sports Resort and Mario Party 8. Like the Wii Sports series, Wii Party will use the Miis as your in game avatar. The menu system and presentation all resemble the feel of previous Wii titles. The game has several play modes that are divided by style: competitive multiplayer, cooperative multiplayer, and a party mode for four players.
The first mode, and the only one I had a chance to play, resembles the Mario Party series. Four competitors (comprised of human players and computer characters if there aren’t enough human players) compete on a board-game overworld. Each round order is determined by a mini-game, and advancement is made by rolling dice. The higher you place in the mini-game, the better your second die will be. The mini-games are pretty standard for the Mario Party series, but they remain fun. Bumper Balls has been updated with motion controls and has become a faster and more frenetic game. The Board Game mode is a fully realized party game by itself, but according to Nintendo there is more.
There are three different cooperative modes and at least three more competitive modes on the disc. Not a single party game was available to demonstrate, but they seem to take party video gaming into a completely new interactive direction. There’s a hide and seek game that requires one player to hide all four Wii Remotes and the other three must find them. Another game plays like spoons; all players must put down the Wii Remote and be the first to grab the Wii Remote that plays the correct sound.
Wii Party will release in the Fall of 2010.