Time For Some Afro Love
Last summer Turn It Around on the DS offered players a heavily Japanese-inspired mix of goofy mini-games all centered on the use of spin controls via the touch screen. Despite the entertaining and colorful personality of the game collection, there was little fun to be had mainly due to poor controls and a lack of depth in the individual mini-games. As one might correctly deduce from looking at the box art adorned with chubby Power Ranger clones, Furu Furu Park is essentially an updated Wii version of Turn It Around. In many ways the collection of games on the Wii shows substantial improvement over its handheld counterpart, yet it’s still quite far from the polish of other big-name casual game collections. Players who liked the quirky vibe of the DS title but couldn’t deal with the awkward touch controls will find a greater measure of enjoyment in Furu Furu Park.
The intro immediately launches players into a hypnotic swirl of hyper-strangeness. Breaking through to the other side reveals a simple menu packed full of 30 gaming morsels (in actuality there’s a bit less due to a few repeats with slightly increased difficulty). It’s a grab bag of oddities that should frequently evoke bemused “what the hell is going on here” reactions punctuated with laughter. The presentation is over-the-top from start to finish, but it gives the collection a distinct personality which should strike the right chord with some players.
Some of the stranger activities involve hypnotizing dragon flies by hand, revving a motorcycle engine and beeping the horn in time with hokey rock-n-roll music, unwrapping undead mummies, launching three guys with afros in a human hammer-throw, and making baked octopus. More mundane mini-games include cranking out snow cones, cracking safes Mission Impossible style, saving the world from giant asteroids, and skateboarding. Throw in a flying shooter or two, some kung-fu goodness, a handful of puzzle games, and smashing evil robots with giant squishy hammers, and you’ll get the gist of the random mish-mash of brief events awaiting for your in Furu Furu Park. It’s also great to see Taito classics like Arkanoid and Bubble Bobble among the hodgepodge assortment of weirdness, but it’s a disappointment we only get to play a single stage from each. If many of these activities sound familiar, it’s because most are repeats carried over from Turn It Around. The audio is of the same frantic variety, but the graphics receive a major overhaul and upgrade. The Wii game looks and plays better on the whole.
Players won’t have much time to get particularly invested in any of the individual mini-games. Most are over in a matter of a minute or so, and others are done in as few as 20 to 30 seconds. A frequently imposed time limited keeps players on their toes. The quality of each game varies widely; a few are actually quite fun while others are nearly unplayable or simply uninteresting. Entertainment-wise, most of the games are strange and silly enough to warrant at least one or two plays through, and a couple will demand repeat transaction.
When flying solo, players can choose to free play any of the mini-games or engage in a challenge mode. The latter involves selecting five of the games to play in succession while being critiqued by a rotund green pig at each step of the way. Playing with a friend will extend the life of Furu Furu Park a little further once you’ve exhausted the limited single-player possibilities; it’s actually preferable since you can share in the ridiculousness encountered.
A Free play battle mode also carries over into the multiplayer options, but the two other available modes are a better diversion. Panel Attack throws up a grid of 16 mini-games on the screen, and players will take turns picking a game to do battle in. The winner of each battle captures the square and gets to pick again. Love Challenge is hands-down the most peculiar mode. Afro Love – an afro adorning character whose swanky pad and “let’s get to it” style tunes are simply beyond words – plays the host. A male and a female player will be prompted to select five mini-games to compete in. In between games, Afro Love will provide encouraging words and rank your love compatibility based-on how close your scores are to one another.
Control was a major issue in Turn It Around. Furu Furu Park shows a marked improvement, but all the kinks are not quite ironed out completely. Overall, the Wii controls are far better implemented than the ill-fated MawasunderPAD. Only the Wii Remote is necessary for every game, and the controls involve basic actions suitable for all ages to pick up easily. You’ll spin the thing around like a crank, shake it fervently, hold it upright and tilt it from side-to side, place it on its side for NES style controls, and point at the screen to manipulate objects, among other non-complex movements. Instructions for each mini-game are given before you begin, and they’re often amusing or cryptic. In Super Karate, for example, players must control the “Karate Android” to destroy the “Karate Robot.” Executing kung-fu maneuvers and blocking attacks is handled by orienting the Wii Remote vertically or on its left or right side. Dragonfly Hunter requires holding the Wii Remote close to the screen to move a hand in circles to mesmerize the winged insects so they fall off a stump. When a tiny afro guy crashes the party, a press of the A button will flick him away. In Safe Cracker, the Power Ranger-like characters don Mission Impossible gear and drop down in front of a safe dangling from wires. You’ll slightly turn the Wii Remote to the appropriate number and click a button to input the code. Unfortunately, controls start to break down on mini-games which require you to hold the controller upright and turn it slightly in one direction or another to turn something on-screen. Sushi Fever, Swan Shooter, and Camel Maze are several examples of games that suffer from this problem; they’re frustrating to play as a result.
With the enormous glut of mini-game collections on the Wii, Furu Furu Park struggles to stand out among other similar collections of its kind. A great level of Japanese-inspired humor, charm, and the arcade vibe works in its favor, but there’s nothing incredibly new or outstanding about the games. Players seeking something a little out of the norm at a budget price would do well to give a spin. Granted, it’s a cheaper and still relatively fun alternative to Wario Ware: Smooth Moves, but in the end you get what you pay for with this one.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.5 Graphics
Quirky, arcade style visuals are appealing and humorous. 3.0 Control
An interesting range of Wii controls, but some are poorly implemented. 3.6 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Action music and silly sound affects are good for a laugh or two. 3.3
Once you’ve tried all the games in single-player mode, the multiplayer options keep the fun going a little while longer. Replay value wanes quickly due to repetition and lack of objectives.
3.4 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.