Gaming with your friends can be a great thing. It’s a bonding activity, allowing you to share and create experiences via an interactive medium. And although the last few years have hammered home the point of online gaming, playing with your friends in the same room is even better, laughing and joking with each other, and feeding off each other’s energy. This is the type of interaction that KnapNok Games are interested in, but to them, sitting on the couch staring at TV with your buddies isn’t enough. To KnapNok, it’s more important to explore the space between players, as well as critically examining how consoles shape the way we play.
What better way to do that than with Spin the Bottle, a Wii U indie game that forces players into the most awkward situations possible?
KnapNok Games’ Spin the Bottle is a virtual reinterpretation of the classic game we all played as teenagers, but instead of getting us to kiss each other, it instead forces us to engage in similarly awkward situations (don’t worry, the game is family friendly). First, players gather around the Wii U Game Pad to spin the virtual bottle. If the bottle lands on a player, that player and the spinner are then led into one of the several minigames that incorporate the original Wii Remote, but also involve moving your body around. These mini-games often involve pushing players' comfort zones, to hilarious and awkward results.
One such game called “Pass the Badger” involves getting on your knees and kneeling back to back with your partner. You then take the Wii Remote and pass it over over each others’ heads, and then through your legs, without dropping the Wii Remote or shaking it too hard. Another game involves wrapping your arms around each other, whilst holding on to the Wii Remote, then trying to jump up and down at the same time to the cue of a drum beat on the Wii U Game Pad. Granted, getting this close and personal with a game developer who I had never met before was incredibly awkward, but that’s sort of the point. Given the right group of friends in the right setting, this game could be a blast.
I only had a chance to play a few of Spin the Bottle’s mini-games with KnapNok, but they inform me that 17 mini-games will be available for the game at launch (two of which will require Wii Motion Plus), with more to be added through updates over time. KnapNok is actually attempting a new and innovative way of pricing the game, starting the price low then gradually raising the price for each new mini-game added, to encourage and reward early adopters of the game. KnapNok is aiming to have Spin the Bottle release early in July as a Wii U exclusive, but creative director Lau Korsgaard informed me that they were looking into the possibility of bringing the game to iOS and Android devices. However, due to the unique hardware of the Wii U and Wii Remote, the game would have to be heavily reworked.
Spin the Bottle represents a different type of gaming. Rather than playing with eyes glued to the television, hands firmly on controllers, Spin the Bottle gathers players together around the Wii U gamepad. And rather than interacting with each other through virtual game worlds, Spin the Bottle is a video game that has us interact in real life. It’s the type of uniquely social gaming that is only possible on the Wii U due to its unique hardware, and makes a compelling argument for the future of innovative independent games on the platform.