A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a highly affordable party game suitable for all but the youngest of family members. The majority of its minigames see up to four players shaking and tilting their remotes in an attempt make their onscreen avatars run, jump, crawl, or keep their balance. A handful of the 30 games involve a small amount of cartoonish violence, such as avatars running into one another, or being beaned by balls. Also note that while a few games in the "Shooting" themed area have players pretending that their remotes are bows or guns, all of the targets are inanimate, consisting of fruits, UFOs, or cardboard animal cutouts.
What's it about?
FAMILY PARTY: 30 GREAT GAMES is a simple and accessible party game composed of dozens of minigames, most of which take around a minute or so to play. All of the activities are family-friendly, and they are scattered among five themed areas. The Athletics area, for example, has players engage in various sprinting, jumping, and balancing challenges that involve shaking and tilting the remote. Meanwhile, the Shooting area games see players pointing their remote at the screen to target UFOs or pieces of fruit balanced on the heads of cardboard bears. Family party is designed for up to four players, each of whom will require a Wii remote. Multiplayer games can be either a random or customized selection of minigames with the simple overarching goal of earning more points than your competitors. If no friends or family are available to play, you can also go up against computer-controlled opponents in the single-player Challenge mode.
Is it any good?
Priced a hair under $20 and with some 30 distinct activities, Family Party is one of the most attractive party games currently on store shelves. Unlike many titles in the category, which feature as few as half a dozen minigames and are often plagued by technical glitches, Family Party offers up dozens of well-designed games, many of which make great use of the Wii remote's motion sensitivity, including several in which players must shake the remote to run, then perform secondary and tertiary movements to, say, jump, crawl, or maintain balance. Some of the activities can be a little confusing at the start (pre-minigame instructions would have benefitted from the sort of video tutorials seen in more expensive party games), but it generally takes just a single play to get a good feel for each challenge.
What corners were cut to keep the price so low? For starters, the presentation seems kind of cheap. Aside from a couple of unlockable games and avatar skins, there really isn't much in the way of rewards, nor is there any form of statistics or performance comparison, save a simple leader board for each game. And with no story mode through which to progress, there's not much reason to play alone -- especially since the game's computer controlled competitors have been poorly calibrated (they can be buffoons in one game and unbeatable in the next). Still, the majority of minigames are a blast if you have a couple of people with whom you can play, and that is, after all, the chief criteria by which one should evaluate a party game.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the game's difficulty level. Which games were harder to learn than others? When playing alone, were your computer-controlled opponents as challenging as human competitors? Did you find that you were better at certain types of games -- perhaps those that favored speed, coordination, memory, or more complex controls -- than others? What do you think that might mean?
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