Family Party: 30 Great Games Obstacle Arcade
Wii U | D3Publisher / Art Co. | 1-4 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now
Controller Compatibility: Wii U GamePad; Wii Remote (pointer/sideways); Wii Remote and Nunchuk
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1st February 2013; By KnucklesSonic8
With a little over thirty games over on offer, the formula of progressing through Challenge Mode to unlock themed worlds has remained intact from previous releases, with the stipulation of obtaining a set number of points to clear a world. Players will choose from an impersonal cast of boys and girls who have been assigned nicknames (separate from the name you give your Profile Badge) and can be customized to a small degree. Why this detail on nicknames is worth noting is because these will be used to refer to your character in the frequent announcements made over the course of an activity. Aside from this last point, everything is pretty much the same as it's always been.
Really the only difference in setup has to do with the implementation of the GamePad, which has worked its way into the flow of these mini-game groupings through the presence of Bonus Games. Before seeing this in action, however, you'll be led to the conclusion that the GamePad serves a largely uncertain, if not useless role in the scheme of things. To select a Profile with the GamePad in hand, you must slide an icon over to the box on the screen and select Next, rather than simply tapping on selections. This needless step proves precursory to the problems that plague and even serve destructive roles in a majority of the available mini-games. For now, I need to point out that, sure, GamePad usage need not be the end-all, be-all, but with the way this all comes across, this game might as well have been on the Wii. And as you see this game's contents in the proper, agonizing light, you'll come to realize this statement is one bearing much truth.
At the conclusion of every one of the standard activities completed in Challenge Mode, the winner will be required to use the Wii U GamePad in a 1-vs-3 Bonus Game -- of which you'll be reminded on a constant basis every blinking time this change occurs. Oh, don't you feel special! A ten-slot roulette will decide on the game chosen, and seeing as there are less than ten different games to choose from, some are given a repeat presence, making the chances of you encountering one you absolutely despise very high. Of all the games, there is only one that makes somewhat meaningful use of the control distinction between the two groups -- Hide the Joker, which involves switching face-down cards around to throw other players off before players make their selections. All others are...well, just plain bad.
When it's not a case of insanely awful controls (shaking the Wii Remote to move in an open space?!), these activities go on for way too long, demonstrate poor control recognition in the case of tilting games, adopt an incredibly stiff play style, or are just horribly designed. One game, entitled Zero Gravity, has the GamePad player tilting to control a UFO around the screen to collect the same stars other players are trying to nab. But besides just being in a confined space that proves hard for the trio to manipulate due to the presence of stagnant asteroids, the design is such that the UFO can block out players completely in a corner of the screen.
Another, Earth Defense Force, asks the solo player to tap and prevent falling meteors from destroying the on-screen city. Meanwhile, the players who have their eyes on the TV screen must somehow use an air hockey paddle to knock downward-falling meteors on an angle to affect their speed and direction. It's incredibly awkward and sloppy, with team players barely feeling like they're participating at all or have any control on the results of the game. In case you didn't already figure by the language I used at the beginning, these base issues are not limited to the Bonus Games and spread to the collection in its entirety, with there being no end or limit to how messed up the control mechanisms are that have been employed, or the insolent quality of the design itself.
I've noticed this series has had a serious issue with control organization, and while the individual fumbles don't have any reason for them being that way, this is one thing the game does make up its mind on -- to convolute or even ruin the experience through this frontal barrier. If you're not one for motion controls, you'll completely hate this game's insatiable need to shoehorn waggle in at every opportunity, even when something far more logical (never mind reliable!) will do.
For example, Flying Teacups has you holding the Wii Remote on its side and shaking the controller side-to-side and doing a quick raise to jump. Rodeo involves inputting button combinations that the game has trouble reading on a consistent basis. And in Cloud Jumpers, players must raise the controller on a diagonal to try and reach cloud platforms situated above. Whose bright idea was that?! Bad and terribly uncooperative control setups are one thing, but the fact that this collection, in all its family-friendly glory, makes these unclear to the player, going so far as to tuck them away on a page that requires going through multiple screens to get to, is completely inexcusable. And this is more or less a required step, because as I pointed out, what logic might dictate as far as how to hold the controller and what buttons to press rarely ever matches up with the game's inconstant demands. Whether you've played a game in this series before or not is negligible: These complications are baffling, and I can't fathom why, five entries in, they still haven't fixed such a glaringly awful, mechanical flaw.
Adding tremendously to the existing worry that the unaccommodating controls bring, Family Party: 30 Great Games Obstacle Arcade is a game permeated by issues of design and pace. As pointed out earlier with the likes of Zero Gravity, some activities have really messy, if not outright broken design. This game's attempt at creating a four-player version of Air Hockey is in fact one of the messiest adaptations I've ever seen. The only way they could've made it any worse is if the rotating goal wheel in the center moved all over the stage. Fatigue is a serious concern as well, with many games having a bad habit of being strongly lethargic, where there's not even a spark of fun in existence. When the pace isn't the root cause, it's the ideas behind the games that are an immediate bore and do nothing to change your preconceived notions of how they likely play out in practice. The game is littered with bad ideas almost as common as the other pressing issues. Fast-draw competitions using condiments? No thank you. The game does not even disguise that a greater portion of these games have been reused from prior collections in the series, if not are completely unoriginal and have been done countless times over in other games. I'm usually good at picking out gems even ragged mini-game collections, but I could find not one good idea here, never mind an activity that would apply the very value the game seeks to scratch in being worth a single play.
Besides just the mini-games being extremely outdated in design, the presentation is guilty of committing the same crime. Set pieces throughout are thoroughly generic and are beneath that of knock-offs, animations are painfully stiff, and the game as a whole is, quite honestly, an insult in the visual department on account of its laid-back, inactive approach. The same is true of the audio, with an incredibly annoying announcer that yells your name even when you've completed the task, also doing so in a tone that indicates disgust. I've already said my spiel on the Bonus Game instructions being repeated over and over again (seriously, quit badgering us about how things operate!), but it's much worse during mini-games, where it's extremely common to hear characters grunt, exhale, cheer, and make other brief, vocal expressions that are as piercing to the ears as if they were drawn-out. I also encountered two freezes in my experience -- one pertaining to the audio and the other to the host's motions on the GamePad screen. But those weren't nearly as troublesome as the rest of this mucked-up failure. "Pretend it didn't happen," you say, Mr. Announcer? No can do!
More than simply being muddied by bad controls and more than simply projecting distaste, Family Party: 30 Great Games Obstacle Arcade is a washed-out, indefensible mess. Every last breath this game utters is one already spoken, and at worst is complete and utter gibberish. Dredging up terrible games from the series' past that have been outed on more than one occasion as being despicable, showing very little interest in being as user-friendly as it vows, and continuing to adopt senseless measures the team has had far too many opportunities to correct, Family Party: 30 Great Games Obstacle Arcade bears heavy guilt that no one should even consider trying to reassure. If this game were a physical establishment, it would deserve not only derision, but to be completely destroyed, having a commemorative monument of some sort erected in its place as a warning that all who trespass on its grounds risk being infected by its crude spirit and contracting its contagious lethargy. Barricade your home and never, under any circumstances, give Family Party: 30 Great Games Obstacle Arcade the courtesy to enter with its detrimental filth.
03/30 - Simply Awful
Gameplay 1/10 - Highly convoluted and awkward setups, tremendously flawed and broken design, bad ideas that are horrendous to a baffling degree
Presentation 2/10 - More than untidy execution, aggravatingly repetitive announcements and noise, painfully stiff animations, atmosphere drains in itself
Enjoyment 0/5 - Not user-friendly in the slightest, confusion abounds, disturbing in all respects, instills fatigue with no excitement to be had at all
Extra Content 0/5 - Content suffers so severely to the extent that there's not one single good idea or translation, value isn't worthwhile by any stretch
Equivalent to a score of 10% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System