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Gaming DeathMatch: Party Game DeathMatch

November 15, 2007

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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With the advent of video games, family game night has sure taken on a whole new meaning. Whether it be co-op, multiplayer and versus, a family who plays together stays together. With the holidays coming up, tis the season for “party games” and we have two here that are ready to kick butt as much as innocuous and inoffensive family games can possibly “kick butt”.

 

EA Playground
Format: Nintendo Wii
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Electronic Arts Canada
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Official Site: http://www.ea.com/eaplayground/

EA PlaygroundOverview

This cute and clever title will take you back to the time when for that magical 10 or 15 minutes a day you engaged in some of the most intense competitions of your life. Flicking hockey cards at a wall or beaning each other with rubber balls may not be complex affairs but heck, when you are an ankle-biter on your recess break and don’t have much to work with, you gotta be resourceful. EA Canada has borrowed Dr. Emmett Brown’s DeLorean and revived some of those timeless schoolyard games.

Sights and Sounds

Inspired by Japanese anime, the characters you have to select from all have personalities of their own and quirks to go along with them. There are many nice little animated touches throughout the game such as the kids running around in circles with their arms spread like airplane wings to celebrate a victory or the way some of them shuffle-step back and forth to cover ground quickly on a court. Regrettably, the characters are all voiced with that incoherent ‘Sims talk’ that makes you want to throw your Wiimote…on purpose.

EA Playground: We get Tai-chi on your....Gameplay

It would be unfair to call the ‘Playground’ package a set of mini-games as each selection is a great game on its own because the developers at EA Canada thoroughly fleshed them all out. You’ve got dodge ball, tetherball, slot car racing, paper racers, darts, wall ball and kicks to choose from at the start. Other games become available as you complete more challenges.

For the racing games, ‘slot cars’ and ‘paper racers, you twist and turn the Wiimote to guide your car and airplane collecting power-ups. The slot cars are on a track while you have to fly the paper airplane through a crowded school hallway. Wall ball is crazy fast handball with some unique power-ups. Tetherball and darts are self-explanatory. ‘Kicks’ is a fast-paced arena soccer game featuring lighting-quick punting and goal tending. Dodge ball is exactly how you remember it with all the demented satisfaction of drilling someone in the head without the fear of causing a serious concussion.

With no online component, you are stuck with just single player or challenging friends or family at home.

 

Viva Piñata: Party Animals
Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Krome Studios
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Official Site: http://www.xbox.com/en-US/games/v/vivapinatapartyanimals/

Viva Pinata: Party AnimalsOverview

Fergy Fudgehog, Franklin Frizzlybear and all of the other denizens of Piñata Island return to the Xbox 360 in a pure party game title and not a direct sequel to the hugely popular and addictive gardening sim from last year. We still don’t know what the heck a “Fudgehog” is and maybe it is best that way, but in this game players can compete against each other as their favourite Piñata in an assortment of races and mini-games.

Sights and Sounds

Okay. Who the heck shrunk all the Piñatas? Except when they are racing, the characters are so small it is hard to make them out. The Piñata characters are so vibrant and colourful, it is a shame they have almost been reduced to diminutive blotches and the true potential of the 360 is not being tapped here. In the races, we do see the characters in all their glory though. While the graphics are lacking, the familiar voices are all there. The challenge announcers are so repetitive though, you will just ignore them until they fade into the background.

Viva Pinata: Party Animals: Fudgehog?!Gameplay

From the Mario Kart like races to the mini-games themselves, there is nothing really that inventive in ‘Party Animals’. You have played better versions of these games before. There is nothing that will excite or surprise you. You’ve got your target practice. You’ve got your
collect-objects-while-avoiding-boulders. You’ve got your memory challenges. You’ve got your pass the “hot potato” deal. ‘Party Animals’ does have Achievement Points, which always give kids a sense of accomplishment and you can battle against other Piñata fans on Xbox Live.

 

Conclusion

Party games are all about the replayability factor. That is where 'EA Playground' surpasses Viva Piñata despite not having online play or Achievement Points. Much like ‘Wii Sports’, you are not getting short-changed with 'EA Playground'. It is a well-crafted package with an assortment of games that stand on their own while the frail 'Party Animals' is for true, blue Viva Piñata fans as they are the only ones who can
overlook the game's shortcomings and know what a 'Fudgehog' is.

Final Score

EA Playground : 7 / 10
Viva Piñata: Party Animals: 4 / 10

Winner: EA Playground

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