Start the Party! Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Start the Party! Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Let’s Get This Party Started

Let’s get something out of the way right away: Start the Party is not a game for grownups. If you go into it expecting that, you’ll be sorely disappointed. That should be obvious given it’s an “E” rated party game with a child on the cover, but I just wanted to make sure we’re on the same page. So if you’re neither a parent with younger children (about 6 to 11) nor a kid in that same age bracket, then you should turn around a walk away right now.

Start the Party! screenshot

Even if you do fit either of those descriptions, there’s still some consideration to be made here. This isn’t the kind of game you’re going to be able to play on your own. So if you think you’ll end up playing this alone most of the time, this probably isn’t a good fit. The only way this is going to be a good game for you is if you’re looking for something to do with four young people for a couple of hours.

If you’re a parent, then the paltry price of $40 to keep four kids busy for up to an hour or more shouldn’t stop you from getting this game. The kids will have a great time, although I can imagine most parents having a heart attack watching four riled up children swinging around $50 controllers for an hour.

It’s not just about the mini-games, although those are generally pretty fun, it’s the way in which the party mode presents the competition. You don’t just take turns playing a mini-game. Each player records a snapshot of themselves using the PlayStation Eye and a recording of their name at the beginning of the game. I find it hard to imagine a group of kids not having fun taking pictures of themselves and recording sound bites that play during the game.

Start the Party! screenshot

Beyond just the simple fun of kids playing with a camera, it’s just a great game design decision. Rather than using canned avatars, a simple picture drastically enhances the player’s attachment to the match. It feels like you’re a part of the game rather than just playing one on the TV. When you win, you get to see your face and name at the top of the heap, and that is just smart design.

Furthermore, the crew on this game was smart enough to inject some improbability into the tournaments. It’s not as simple as winning at as many games as possible. There are different themed rounds inserted between the games. There are lightning rounds, and thief rounds (where instead of earning points, you steal them from another player), among others. The latter of those two is a particular favorite of mine. It introduces a bit of politics to the mix. You have to get a feel for who has the most momentum and who you do or don’t want to be your enemy in this game. Stealing their points could come back to haunt you!

Start the Party! screenshot

The big problem with Start the Party, though, is everything is great…besides the actual games. To their credit, the developer has wrapped this meager offering in a nice packaging. But, sooner or later, you’ll start to see through it. There are only a handful of mini-games included in Start the Party and they’re all small games. They’re all fairly fun, but so simple that fun may not necessarily be the right word to use. Some examples include: a game where you try to guide parachuters onto a safety boat by waving a “fan” to change their course, a simple bug swatting game, a whack-a-mole variant, and Start the Party’s signature shape drawing game. Most of these don’t last more than thirty seconds per round. What’s more, beyond local leaderboards, there’s not much to keep you playing. A game like this begs for an online leaderboard, which could have drastically extended the play-life of this simple game.

One game in particular seems like misstep. In it, evil robots march at the screen (always a good start) while on their chests, a TV is displaying the view of the PlayStation Eye camera. A crosshair shows up somewhere on that screen and you have to get your controller inside of it to disable the robot. The problem is that nobody ever tells you that’s what you’re supposed to do, and furthermore, sometimes the image will be flipped or inverted. I could see it being quite confusing for a child.

Start the Party! screenshot

Most of these games are fun enough in the hands of a kid. Will the artsy gamer get anything out of this? Not at all. But will a nine year old have fun with friends swatting bugs using the motion controls? You bet.

If nothing else, Start the Party fills a much needed gap in the launch line up of the PlayStation Move. It started off as something of a tech demo for the system during the months before its release, but now it’s blossomed into something fairly competent. Other than Sports Champions, there’s not much else on the system that could entertain a room full of kids. Young people are going to make up a large chunk of the people interested in Move, so it’s appropriate Sony should release at least something for their interest. We just wish they had put some more work into creating unique mini-games. If Start the Party had more mini-games, this could have been a truly great party game. However, as it stands, the repetition will probably get on your nerves and kids may get bored quickly.

That said, as a way to keep a room full of children busy, you could do far worse than this game. The major bonus is most of the movements are intuitive; you can generally figure them out without needing much explanation. This removes the complication of having to explain the controls to all four players involved. Not only is it much more fun to experiment and figure out the controls on your own, nobody ever had any fun listening to a lecture about how to control a game.

In the end, you just need to think about whether or not you’re the right market for this game. If you have kids, or are a kid, go crazy, you’ll have some fun here. If you’re an older gamer, planning to play by yourself, or don’t have a consistent group of friends to play with, then you’ll probably want to pass on Start the Party.

There’s certainly nothing spectacular in this game, but the graphics are colorful and cartoony. 4.0 Control
Most movements are quite intuitive and fun to use. 3.7 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Good use of the PS Eye’s microphone allows players to record their name for the match. 3.2 Play Value
There’s not much depth here. This game is likely to be abandoned after a few breakthroughs. It’ll give a group a lot of fun before it stops though. 3.3 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Start the Party includes interactive fun for the entire family.
  • Experience innovative video and audio technology that put players virtually into the game.
  • Competitive, co-operative, and customizable team modes provide variety for players of all ages.

  • To top