Review: Family Party: 30 Great Games (Nintendo Wii)


Family Party: 30 Great Games
Genre: Mini Games
Developer: Tamsoft
Publisher: D3
Release Date: 12/02/08

I don’t know if anyone was really asking for yet another Wii mini-game collection, yet this Winter we have Family Party: 30 Great Games. Unlike some of the other Wii mini-game collections, Family Party has a larger variety of games to play through, and with the lower price of $20, it certainly appears as if you are going to pick up one mini-game collection you might as well pick the one with the most mini-games for the price…right?

The first thing a person planning on purchasing Family Party: 30 Great Games should be suspicious of is the fact that the word great is used in the title. Most great games do not need to have the word great in the title. Generally a great game will just be very good instead of having to advertise that in the title, which is why you don’t see GTA: Awesome on the shelves.

Does Family Party: 30 Great Games worth the money and worth the description in it’s title?

Read on.

Family Party really only has two basic modes, the single player Challenge Mode and Battle Mode. In Challenge Mode, the different mini-games are divided into 5 different categories with only three unlocked from the start. In order to unlock more mini-game and the other two categories, you have to play through and get first place in the first three.

When starting Challenge Mode you get to select between a number of characters, and here’s the first issue I have with the game. While the characters provided are decent enough, ranging from the elderly to children to people in fursuits, it would’ve really been nice to see this game support the use of the Nintendo Mii’s for a more personal connection with the game.

After selecting a character you select the category you want to play and then compete through six different mini-games of the same theme. You’ll compete against 3 computer-controlled characters and you’ll earn a number of points depending on how you placed at the end of the mini-game. After all six all of the scores are calculated and the winner is determined.

In Battle Mode you and up to three friends can play through the mini-games you’ve unlocked in the Challenge Mode of the game, and instead of choosing a category you can select which mini-games you want to play. If you’re looking to just play through one or two of the mini-games on your own it’s also possible to just play this single player. It’s a good way to practice specific games.

Here’s my biggest problem with the modes, while each mini-game has a text description of how to play the game before it starts, there’s no way to practice the game. Plus some of the descriptions just aren’t that good, and at least in one case factually incorrect. There’s a swinging game that tells you that A is to jump, when really it’s the B button. I only figured this out almost after I broke my controller out of frustration. One the series of six games begin there’s no way of retrying any of the games either, so if you are on the 4th game out of six and are still struggling to understand the game, fail and lose first place, well you have to start all over again in order to try and get first and unlock the next series of games.

The fact that these are the only two game modes is also disappointing. For a family party game there’s not really a lot of options for structuring multiplayer. There’s no tournament mode, or any other modes. The only other menu choices are Options and Records that keep track of a high score list for each game.

Graphically it’s pretty much on par with other Wii mini-game titles, which means it’s functional but it’s nothing that’s going to strain the system’s capabilities. The characters look decent and though all of the textures and colors are kept pretty simple it all works well enough. On the audio side the background music is decent enough, but there are times when all four players will be trying to accomplish a goal quickly and the sound effects will overlap in an annoying way.

Family Party makes use of only the Wii remote, and if there’s one thing this game does very well it’s making the most use out of the Wii remote. Even similar style games will use the controller in a different way so you have to stay on your toes and really pay attention to how each game controls. There are some pretty good ways they’ve managed to use the remote, one game for example has you crossing a bridge while the other players shoot at you. You hold the remote sideways and walk forward by alternating between pressing the D-Pad and the 2 button. Shots will come from both the left and the right and to deflect a shot from the different sides you tilt the controller in that direction. Many of the shooting games are well thought out instead of being just simple point and shoot affairs. Some of the track and field games I almost wished let me use the Active Life mat to control, but that’s more of a personal preference.

Another great thing about Family Party compared to other mini-game collections is just the sheer variety of the different game types. Some are shooting games, other are track and field style games, some are just odd, and there are even a few trivia/puzzle style games.

The worst part about controlling any of the games is the fact that some of them require precise timing and figuring out that timing is a horribly frustrating experience. Part of the reason for this is the fact that while you struggle to figure out how to play each of the individual 30 games, the computer AI is very, very good at playing these games. Sometimes even the slightest hesitation will cause you to lose a game, and while it’s nice to have a challenge sometimes, combine the AI with the fact that there’s no way to practice, the instruction for how to play these games isn’t always the greatest, and the fact that you need to place first in order to unlock more of the games…well for game with the word Family in the title I certainly used words which I wouldn’t consider family friendly.

There’s no way to change the AI difficulty for these games either. Which is something I don’t understand since if this is meant to be a game children can play, how are they supposed to win against the computer? It took me awhile to figure out each game, a lot longer than your average child’s attention span. Honestly a lot longer than my own attention span if I wasn’t so consumed with unlocking every single mini-game.

I will say that once you do get past the steep learning curve and figure out what to do for each game, the game is fairly enjoyable. $20 seems like good price for the content involved, though if you are planning on playing Family Party: 30 Great Games with younger gamers, this game is more frustrating than it should be and they might not enjoy it as much.

The Scores:
Game Modes/Story: Poor
Graphics: Mediocre
Sound: Mediocre
Control/Gameplay: Decent
Replayability: Above Average
Balance: Mediocre
Originality: Very Good
Addictiveness: Above Average
Appeal: Above Average
Miscellaneous: Enjoyable

Final Score: DECENT GAME

Short Attention Span Summary
If this Winter you’ve bought the Nintendo Wii for your family and are looking for a range of mini-games that make good use of the motion controls that also offer a wide variety to the different games, at a good value, than Family Party: 30 Great Games is for you. However keep in mind that you get what you pay for and at a budget price Family Party offers very little in the way of different gameplay modes, and the difficulty curve is so severe that younger gamers might not enjoy the game at all.

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