Nintendo's been battling for control of casual gamers, especially when it comes to family-friendly entertainment. At the top of the heap are the "Wii" games, aka Wii Sports Resort, Wii Fit, and the latest, Wii Party. Featuring the sometimes-overlooked Miis, Wii Party avoids any sort of physical fitness agenda in favor of casual group fun. We played Nintendo's latest in the comfort of our own homes, and have come back to tell the tale.
Scott: Virtual board games and endless minigame compilations have been inundating the Wii's software library, but Wii Party's formula is a little different. It's a series of game shows and virtual board games, at heart a sequel to the long-lived Mario Party games. Up to four players roll dice, jump around spaces on various boards, and compete in minigames to advance. My wife happens to love the Mario Party series. Every time I ask her to join me in some game-playing, she requests Mario Party 8, which I dutifully drag out of its dusty box. Mario Party 8 on the Wii happens to be some fun--but it's slow, and has letterboxed graphics. Wii Party freshens up the look and has a collection of 80 minigames that feel more streamlined and simplified, but very much in the vein of Mario Parties past.
There are also a number of game modes in Wii Party, tailored for play length (5 minutes to over an hour), number of players, and play style. A new two-player 5-minute game that feels like a condensed version of The Dating Game is a great and somewhat romantic little time-waster, but it's too short. The board-game-style experiences are more elaborate, but aren't quite as complex or as competitive as in Mario Party. All the Miis on your console--plus some added extras--gets shuffled in across the entire Wii Party experience, just like they do in Wii Sports and Wii Fit. It's fun, but it's not something we haven't seen before.
One of the most innovative new wrinkles in Wii Party comes from a series of room-immersive games that use the Wii remote's built-in speaker.… Read more