Tech News on G4
Wii Party U minigames offer mini fun
Nov 11, 2013
By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada
A man is only as good as his word, a team is only as good as its worst player, and a minigame compilation is only as good as its, well, minigames. That bodes poorly for Nintendo's newest collection of bite-sized digital distractions, Wii Party U.
Nintendo's systems - especially the Wii - are no strangers to minigame compilations, and while a lot of these titles are thrown together haphazardly by little-known third party developers looking to cash in on casual players, Nintendo's in-house games are typically more trustworthy.
Until the Wii U, that is.
After the disappointment that was Game & Wario, a game that was released earlier in 2013, Wii Party U continues the trend of sub-par minigame collections for the Wii U coming from Nintendo - in this case Nd Cube, which is a subsidiary developer for the Big N.
It's jammed full of 80 different games, but only a few of them are truly compelling, and you have to wade through a lot of junk to get to the occasional gem.
The game is split up into three different sections, titled TV Party, House party, and Gamepad Party, although the first two are very similar to each other. TV Party lets up to four players battle it out in one of five board games, while House Party revolves around slightly more involved individual games. Gamepad Party, meanwhile, has two players matching up co-operatively or competitively on the Wii U gamepad exclusively.
The options in House Party are very hit and miss, and even the more interesting games aren't particularly well-executed. For instance, "Sketchy Situation" uses the Gamepad as a drawing tablet, where two or three players are tasked with drawing the same image, while another player draws something that looks similar. All drawing is done individually, without anyone seeing what the other players drew until the end, at which point everyone has to guess what the odd image out is.
The problem is, there are only three rounds, so the game is over far too quickly. Not only that, but after two run-throughs of this game, I saw the same words pop up in four of the six total rounds played.
"Name that Face," which takes advantage of the gamepad's camera, is one of the stronger options, but "Do U Know Mii" suffers the same fate as Sketchy Situation, as it doesn't feel fully fleshed out.
TV Party and its board game-centric options is even more hit-or-miss. "The Balldozer" has an interesting premise, but the other four options are downright boring, and only serve to get in the way of the occasionally fun minigame.
For instance, Mii Fashion Plaza, with its focus on outfitting Mii characters, may appeal to young girls, but for a group of rowdy men and women looking for something - anything - fun in Wii U Party, it won't scratch that itch.
Gamepad Party undoubtedly is the most interesting mode of the three. It features an eclectic mix of gamepad-only minigames, and while it's limited to only two players, it provides some good times, even if you're playing solo against an AI-controlled bot.
Many of the gamepad-only games, such as Tabletop Baseball and Tabletop Gauntlet, harken back to when games were a lot simpler but still a ton of fun. Mii-in-a-Row, meanwhile, is an easy-to-learn, difficult-to-master puzzle game that involves a lot of strategy. There's even a minigame-within-a-minigame option that offers several gems, from slot car racing to a quick-draw curling competition.
As an aside, I do appreciate that Nintendo included a small stand that allows the gamepad to sit evenly on a flat surface, but the darn thing is tiny and far too easy to lose.
Besides the gamepad-exclusive options, you'll be bored to tears if you're rocking a party of one, considering half the fun of these party games is the banter between friends. There are also annoying design decisions in games that are played with only one human, such as not being able to skip or fast-forward through a computer-controlled player's turn.
One neat feature Nintendo included in Wii Party U is the ability to not only rate every game you play on a five-star scale, but to see each game's rating based on scores compiled from players around the world. You can use this to choose between games in the future, or to simply compare with you and your friends' stats.
Unfortunately, the rating system is a double-edged sword, as it allows you to see just how bad so many of the games are. If you finish a round of minigames and all four players don't hesitate as they give the majority of minigames one and two stars, it's clear there's something wrong with the core of Wii Party U.
It would have served Nd Cube well to cut out at least a couple of dozen of the worst minigames from this collection. Sure, there would be less to choose from and more games repeated, but that's the beauty of fun games - people actually want to go back to them over and over again.
We're a year into the Wii U's life cycle, and the original pack-in game for the system - Nintendoland - is still the best, and arguably only, option for some legitimate minigame fun.
Wii Party U
About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.