A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
The predominant message is that birthday parties are a way to have fun with your friends. The game manual contains many positive messages about how to plan a party. It suggests asking about food allergies and explains how to ensure that everyone at the party has their fair share of turns on the Wii. The manual also contains many healthy recipes for party snacks. It suggests real games that would go well with the Wii games.
Positive Role Models
The possible avatars are racially diverse and come in all shapes and sizes. Everyone within the game is supportive of others. When your avatar wins a game, it is show on a platform as being higher than the other players. The winning avatar does a dance while the others clap. The game creates an environment of celebration.
Ease of Play
Each game comes with a short video showing you how to play. The controls are easy to pick up and intuitive, even for kids as young as age 4 or 5.
Violence & Scariness
In one game you will shoot at gremlins to turn them into Teddy bears or other toys, and in another, you shoot at balloons on the screen to collect points.
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Products & Purchases
2K Play has partnered with Duncan Hines, Party City, and Evite to create this game. One of the minigames is called "Duncan Hines Cake Stacker" and has advertisements for Duncan Hines products within the game. The game manual contains recipes using Duncan Hines, and also recommends using Evite for online invitations.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is more than a birthday-themed minigame collection – it is also a guide on how to throw a fun, high-tech at-home birthday party using a Wii. By choosing a theme for your party, and then entering each party-goer's name, the software sets up the rotation of kids playing the games. The game's manual is full of suggestions of other non-tech games and activities to use in addition to playing the birthday-themed minigames.
Is It Any Good?
With 22 birthday party-themed games, there is a lot to choose from. Most work well and provide a fun 2-3 minute multiplayer game experience. The Pin the Tail game is quite good because it uses the Wii remote's speaker to send out a series of clicks. The donkey is hiding behind a closed barn door, and you use your remote to sound out where he is. The faster the clicks, the closer you are. When each player has pinned their ribbon on the door, it is opened to reveal who was closest to the donkey.
The Custom Party option really does take away some of the stress of party-planning because it manages what games to play and who is playing when. However, you might decide that some games would be better played for real – like the sack races to burn off energy -- so you would want to use the Quick Party setup instead. As a veteran boys' birthday planner, I loved the option of having 12 little boys whack a virtual piñata, instead of one hanging inside my house. And that is the beauty of this game – you can customize it to fit your needs and preferences.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.