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5 Spots Party - WiiWare Review

Game Info
5 Spots Party

WiiWare | 1 Player | 1-4 Players 
(local multiplayer)
 | Out Now | 500 Wii Points
Controller Compatability: Wii Remote (pointer)
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20th August 2009; By KnucklesSonic8

We all have our favourite puzzle games we grew up with since childhood, and whilst some of us enjoyed word puzzles such as crosswords, others preferred games of a more visual nature. One of the most well-known visual-puzzle games is that of comparing two identical pictures side-by-side and trying to determine the differences between the two. Developers have noticed the amount of appeal this has for some and, as a result, they've created games based on this idea. In hopes of appealing to the casual audience on WiiWare, Cosmonaut Games has released 5 Spots Party which focuses on the aforementioned concept, but how much content could they possibly include in a game like this? Does 5 Spots Party contain enough substance to be worth the asking price? 

    5 Spots Party features 3 different gameplay modes, the first of which is known as 'Super Fun Classic'. This mode consists of the basic gameplay you would come to expect - finding differences amongst a grouping of two pictures. The second, 'Find the Monkey', consists of more challenging gameplay, tasking players with finding 5 hidden monkeys and monkey-related items within a single picture. Both of these modes can be played from 1 to 4 players, however 'Leisure Mode' is essentially more of a relaxation mode for single players, where you must still spot differences within a series of photographs, just without a time limit restriction.

Before going into 5 Spots Party, it's likely that the average player is already well-acquainted with the type of gameplay that's present within the game. 'Super Fun Classic' features this aforementioned "standard" gameplay, and it's executed rather well. Players are given two photographs at a time and must look for 5 differences, or "Spots", amongst the two pictures. Rather than going the easy route and using a single cursor to go back and forth amongst two pictures, the game equips the player with two cursors. As one cursor moves across one photograph, the other cursor replicates the same movement on the opposite side without ever crossing over or being inaccurately placed. It's a great feature and it's something that makes the gameplay much easier and enjoyable. 'Super Fun Classic' mode also provides you with 5 "Jokers" that can be used at any time. By pressing the B button, you'll be able to use these Jokers to reveal one of the Spots for you if you ever get stuck. Wise use of these limited items is key! 

    As you pass the first couple of stages, the game's time limit gets progressively faster and faster with each stage you pass, and with every incorrect guess you make, you'll lose precious time on the clock. It's sad to say, though, that the gameplay itself doesn't always become progressively harder like the timer itself. There are times when you'll encounter a tough set of pictures that will almost run you out of time, but then right after this, you'll get an easier set of photographs that have very clear differences and it almost feels like the game's going easy on you. This one of the very few flaws that can be found within the game, and other than this minor issue, the gameplay works great.

For those looking for a more challenging gameplay experience, the game's second mode will be slightly more appealing. In 'Find the Monkey', players are given one photograph at a time where they must search for 5 hidden monkeys and monkey-related items such as bananas, shadows, toys and the like. Most of these are well-hidden and overall, the gameplay is of a more challenging nature than what's found in the other modes in the game. To illustrate how tricky these monkeys are, there are some that blend into the environment, some that are of miniscule size, and even some that have a lighter transparency! Although the timer from 'Super Fun Classic' is still present, there are no Jokers to be found and needless to say, this adds even more to the level of challenge. Unfortunately, what's also carried over to this mode is the imbalance of difficulty within the photographs. This, ultimately, takes away from the experience and it may annoy some players to see this at random moments during gameplay. That being said, overall, the mode is a great diversion from the main gameplay and it adds to the overall experience.

    For those that want to enjoy gameplay with a more relaxed nature, the game's 'Leisure Mode' is sure to be appealing. The mode contains the same gameplay found within the first mode, except that there are no time restrictions and the player only has to clear 5 stages. Because players aren't hampered by a time limit in this mode, they are able to take their time and look for the differences without feeling too pressured. On the flip side, those aiming for a high-score will be looking to see how quickly they can clear the set number of photos so, really, the mode suits both moods. It also paves the way for those of a younger age to not feel as frustrated over what may seem to be a demanding time restraint in the other modes.

All in all, the gameplay is rather well done, even if it doesn't strive for anything different or unique. Despite this, most players should still be pleased with the game, provided it's taken in short bursts. Cosmonaut Games could've easily taken a much simpler, easier approach with the entire concept but it's pleasing to see that they've attempted to make the experience more enjoyable with a couple of extra features here and there.

Although two of the game's modes can be played with up to 3 friends, the game doesn't reflect this "party" element as strongly as it could have, but that's not to say it doesn't work well. In both modes, players aim to see who can get the biggest number of spots overall across a set number of photos. There are a couple of differences from the standard gameplay, though. For example, rather than keeping the double-cursor feature in 'Super Fun Classic' mode, you are instead stripped down to one cursor per player,which requires players to be very accurate when making guesses on the opposing photo, where there may be nothing there. In both modes, each player can only make 3 incorrect guesses before they are not allowed to play for the remainder of the stage. As well as these changes, the time limit is also significantly faster, and it's great to see that the developers have made this little tweak because in doing so, they've created more competitive gameplay and, when players are stuck, they don't have to wait for extended periods of time for the time limit to expire. Another neat little feature that the developers added is that when one player is trailing at the back of the pack, rumbles or sounds will emit from the Wii Remote to give clues of a 'Spot's' location to help out the player. Despite all these small tweaks, the multiplayer essentially stays true to the standard gameplay and while it is enjoyable, we can't help but feel that a little more could have been done to take advantage of this "party" element.

With regards to presentation, the pictures themselves are of a good variety and the layouts of the menus and modes is pretty standard affair. The music in the game, though, is where many will find reason to complain. Here, the developers have decidedly chosen instrumental versions of some childhood songs. While this may not appear to be a flaw in itself, the fact that there's only a small number of songs on offer and that they loop well before reaching the minute-mark will definitely annoy some players. 

    Overall, 5 Spots Party doesn't have many flaws to speak of but at the same time, the flaws it does have may or may not be a big deal for some. For starters, the game has no sort of Pause button to speak of and this is a rather big (and unusual) oversight. The only way to go back to the Main Menu in the middle of a game is to hit the Reset button on the Wii's Home Menu (either that or wait for the timer to expire), and as this could be rather tedious and annoying for some, it's rather silly for the game not to have it. As mentioned above, many (especially those of an older age group) will find the game's music less than appealing. Under normal circumstances, the obvious thing to do would be to turn the music down and keep the sound effects on, but the game is also missing any sort of Options Menu! This also is a big oversight and there's absolutely no excuse for not having one.

In total, the game contains over 330 photos and after one or two hours, it's highly likely that you'll see at least one picture appear for a second time. Thankfully, not all the differences are exactly the same for each photo and it's great to see Cosmonaut Games saw to that, however, this isn't always the case and in some instances you may find a few of the differences have been repeated from the last time you saw the photo, which ultimately detracts from the game's replay value and it's difficulty.

    While these flaws could've easily been rectified, and there could've been a stronger emphasis on multiplayer, the fact remains that the game is enjoyable. It does a great job at appealing to different audiences, making for a game that really is for all ages, and can be enjoyed amongst families and even by yourself. Moreover, 5 Spots Party contains a decent amount of content for only 500 Points and if the concept appeals to you, it's likely that you'll be pleased with the effort Cosmonaut Games has put forth into this release.

20/30 - Okay/Average

Gameplay 6/10  - Simple controls, great for all ages, imbalanced difficulty amongst photographs, decent variety of modes
Presentation 8/10 - Audio will annoy some for sure, lacking some basic menu functions, generic layout, good quality images
Enjoyment 4/5 - Enjoyable if the concept appeals to you, multiplayer can be quite competitive yet fun
Extra Content 2/5 -  Stronger focus on multiplayer could've gone well, replay value decreases once you see all the photos

Equivalent to a score of 67% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

5 Spots Party
Review | Interview | Screenshot gallery | Trailer | Preview | Feature
Review by KnucklesSonic8  |  How we rate games

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