|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Quebec||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 27, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
If you are unaware of the Cranium board games, then trust me, you are missing out. These board games have been helping family game night come to life for the past few years. They don't just involve throwing dice or spinning a spinner to reach a goal, the Cranium games invited families to move around and think of creative ways to solve puzzles in order to progress in the game. Families would have to draw, mold or act out certain prompts, in addition to answering some orthodox trivia questions along the way. The game really is a great family experience, and I heartily recommend it to families who enjoy spending time together playing board games and don't mind acting pretty silly.
The premise of the Cranium series actually lent itself to the world of video gaming pretty well, in theory. I mean, you've got a game here that encourages moving around and solving puzzles. Sounds like a perfect fit for the Wii, right? Well, this title is pretty hit-or-miss with several facets, but one thing's for sure: Cranium Kabookii fails to capture the magic of the original board game. It does a pretty good job of re-creating the micro game feel of the board game, but something was fundamentally lost in translation here.
The way the game works is you work in teams and take turns spinning a giant wheel. This wheel will reveal a mini-game that a member of your team will have to play. These mini-games fall under four broad categories: drama, art, knowledge, and word game. There's a pretty wide variety of mini-games in each category, and these mini-games will ask you to either draw a clue for others to guess, remember a sequence of blocks or musical notes, or even have you shake the Wii-mote in various ways to "act out" different situations. The game tries to channel some of the frenzy of the board game, but it largely doesn't work for quite a few reasons, namely the poor controls, the unattractive graphics, and the repetitive gameplay.
The first thing that is really striking about Cranium Kabookii is its control. Sometimes it works fine. For instance, in any mini-game that requires you to draw or to memorize a rhythm. However, in the various games where you have to use the Wii-mote to mimic the on-screen action, the control completely breaks down. Essentially anything you do with the Wii-mote will not translate into the gameplay, and the "act out" mini-games are almost sure-fire losses when they are selected as the next game. This is a real problem, considering ¼ of the games will be focused on your ability to mimic these motions. If there was a way to get into the game's settings and completely skip or omit these mini-games (like in the Mario Party series), that would be one thing. But as it stands these horrific examples of Wii-mote controls are still very much a part of the game, and it's a real shame because they drag it down so much.