The Disney Channel has always been a reliable source for entertaining family friendly programming. Disney Channel All Stars is exactly what you think it is; a family friendly collection of minigames featuring seven of Disney Channel's current properties: Sonny with a Chance, Jonas L.A., Suite Life On Deck, Camp Rock 2 The Final Jam, Wizards of Waverly Place, Hannah Montana Forever, and my personal favorite, Phineas and Ferb. The minigames set against the popular backdrops are average at best. As a package, Disney Channel All Star Party’s greatest flaw is a lackluster use of the licenses.
There are two modes of play, all involving the same minigames: Free Play and All Star Party. Free Play lets you choose from multiple unlocked minigames either alone or with company. All Star Party is a competition for four players in up to nine minigames to accumulate the most points. Between minigames, each player chooses the show location of the next set of minigames. Then, small split-second competitions decide which player chooses the next game. Usually these are determined by the first person to follow a quick button prompt or waggle command, such as pressing the A button or waving the Wiimote in the air.
The game is, of course, at its best when played with the maximum number of players, but when that is not possible the AI steps in so that there are always four contenders in each game. Some games require you to team up, such as the dancing or sack race games featured in Camp Rock 2, the Final Jam’s suite of minigames. Playing as partners requires genuine coordination and teamwork. These games really fall flat, however, if your partner is the CPU.
The Wiimote is put through the motions (no pun intended) in many ways we have seen before. Actions range from using the pointer first-person style to hurl water balloons at moving targets, placing it in your pocket and jumping up and down, turning it sideways to use it as a steering wheel, and more. The controls are presented at the beginning of each minigame and are responsive enough, though the game could have benefited from WM+ support.
In total, there are 34 minigames. That number is a bit deceiving as a few are virtually identical, the only difference being that they are wrapped in the guise of different shows. Still, there is a decent variety of gameplay on offer, from racing magic carpets to dance battles. Each show comes with its own suite of minigames. Wizards of Waverly Place just so happens to house most of the best minigames, including “12 Ball Ping-Pong” where all 4 players compete in a magically enhanced game of table tennis, and “Sneaky Magic”, where players must wave their magic wands as fast as they can while their teacher’s back is turned or risk being frozen. Other standouts not found in Wizards of Waverly Place include “Viva La Foosball” matches and a game where one player tries to make it across a narrow bridge while contending with swinging obstacles hurled at them by other players.
Even the best games in this collection do not make Disney Channel All Star Party standout among the best minigames collections available for the Wii. That is because most of the game is forgettable. One minigames type is a personality quiz of sorts where a string of five offbeat questions are asked to determine which of two given adjectives best describe each player. The personality traits in question could be Funniest or Most Fashionable. However, it is not revealed which of these traits is actually the winning trait to have until the poll is over. The poll features such questions as “Which animal is your personal mascot?” with the answer choices being Horse, Bear, Tiger, or Penguin. The mystery trait is then revealed and the player (or players) that best exemplify that trait is the winner. You pick answers by grabbing your character and placing them on the podium representing your answer choice. It is never explained how the winner is calculated and several times I found that the winner’s choices didn’t seem to correlate well with the winning personality.
The reason I single out the polls in particular is because out of the 34 games in all, seven of them are polls (one for each show), comprising more than 1/5 of the collection in all. Value wise this game does not have much to offer. Unlocking all the minigames doesn't take more than a couple of hours at best and most of them get old fast. Also available to unlock is the ability to use your Mii as a character, as well as clothing attire to customize the Disney cast.
Graphically the game is smooth and colorful. The world of Disney Channel All Star Party is populated by the Miis stored on your console. My biggest gripe is with the visuals pertaining to the avatars modeled after the stars of these shows. There are only nine of them in total. Three of them are the Jonas brothers and two are the Sprouse twins. The resemblance to their real life counterparts is debatable at best. This is made clear during one of the lesser minigames where you are asked to spot all three Jonas brothers from a crowded room of characters. Bear in mind that you are actually picking out Mii-like character models based on the Jonas brothers, which seems like a complete rip off.
The audio in this game is a let down. Generic upbeat rock music plays pretty much all the time. Only when you choose a show location does a true rendition of that show’s theme song play. Very few actors actually lent their voices to the game, and even then it is only used sparingly. On the upside there's a wide variety of kooky sound effects during the minigames, many of which come through the Wiimote speaker, offering helpful feedback.
I didn't especially enjoy my time with Disney Channel All Star Party, but obviously I am not the game’s intended audience. Even then, I cannot imagine that a group of tweens would find it any more engrossing than I did after likely experiencing so many better games in this genre on the Wii. I feel a better use of the licenses would have gone a long way in increasing the game's appeal. The pseudo lookalike characters, variety of locales taken from each show, and the accompanying theme songs do not provide enough of an incentive for fans of the Disney Channel to pick this game up. True, there is no party like a Disney Channel All Star party, but perhaps that is for the best.