Wii Party Review
Wii Party box art
System: Wii Review Rating Legend
Dev: NDCube 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Nintendo 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Oct. 3, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

After one too many romps around the world of mini-games, Nintendo is letting Mario get back to what he does best. That doesn’t mean the publisher is ready to put a cash cow out to pasture, and with Wii Party, Nintendo once again aims for the casual market. Is this a package truly worth celebrating?

Wii Party screenshot

Like Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort before it, Wii Party comes packaged with little fanfare. There’s a Muppets-like host who will walk you through the basics, but the game doesn’t set out to tell a tale. As its name implies, Wii Party is all about getting a group of folks together and having a good time. In lieu of Mario and the gang, each player is represented by a Mii of their choosing, and the party appeal is more mainstream than ever before.

My first order of business when evaluating this product was to sift through all of the various modes, check out as many mini-games as possible, and get a feel for the overall package. Going it alone, I found a lot to like about Wii Party. The host will offer suggestions about appropriate modes and mini-games based on how long you would like to play and how many players are available. The breadth of mini-games is huge, and though there are definitely some duds, there are at least an equal number of fun mini-games that make particularly smart use of the Wii Remote – no Nunchuk or MotionPlus required.

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That being said, it’s when you get a group of people invested into the game that Wii Party really hits its stride. Mini-games I had absolutely no interest in when played solo suddenly became entertaining when additional players entered the mix. I enlisted the help of my family to run Wii Party through its paces, and to my surprise, it became one of those games we could spend hours with in a single sitting.

Wii Party screenshot

Perhaps Wii Party’s defining quality, and what makes it so much fun when played in a group setting, is the game’s accessibility. Unlike Mario Party, most of the minis in Wii Party are extremely easy to dive into, and the premise always makes perfect sense, even to non-gamers. Aside from perhaps a single mini, you won’t be required to waggle Wii Remotes frantically without any rhyme or reason. For example, one of the one-verse-one mini-games has players chopping opposite sides of a tree. In order to whack the tree with your axe, you’ll need to motion the controller upright, and when your axe is positioned in the sweet spot, you’ll then need to motion downward to execute a chop.

That’s not to say Wii Party isn’t without its shortcomings. Games such as Risky Railroad rely solely on luck, and there are a handful of other minis that are a bit button-mashy. Also, the laidback nature of the music and presentation often leave a void in what is otherwise a contagiously fun experience. In spite of Wii Party’s flaws, you’re still getting a lot of really strong content here.

Wii Party screenshot

Similar to past Mario Party games, Wii Party offers a board game where players compete to finish first. You’ll move along spaces marked with various obstacles and power-ups, challenging each other in mini-games along the way. There’s only a single board to play on, but Wii Party spreads its focus across a cornucopia of other modes. Bingo is great when you just want to zip through a quick bout of competitive play, and Friend Connection is a delightfully silly way to cooperatively work through a unique selection of minis. Globe Trot is an entertaining take on The Amazing Race, and Spin-Off offers a Wheel of Fortune-style approach that can get pretty intense as the bank fills up.

Screenshots / Images
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