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 family-friendly party game composed of recognizable rumpus room activities, including air hockey, darts, and shuffleboard. While it can be played alone, it is best enjoyed in groups of two to four players. The content is safe even for very young children, but some of the games -- particularly the trivia challenge, which features questions about history and sports that even well-educated adults may have trouble with -- probably won't be enjoyed by most kids.
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What's it about?
Yet another budget Wii minigame compilation, GAME PARTY delivers half a dozen simulations of real world rumpus room games, including air hockey, darts, shuffleboard, alley ball, hoops, and ping cup (bouncing a ping pong ball into a cup), as well as a simple, six-category trivia game.
Players choose which game they want to play, select from over 100 avatars to represent themselves, and go to it. The motion sensitive and infrared controls for each game are simple and intuitive -- for example, players make a throwing motion for darts and a bowling motion for alley ball. At the end of each game tickets are awarded that will eventually unlock more avatars and minor variations for some of the games.
Is it any good?
There's little to distinguish Game Party from other minigame assemblages currently available for Nintendo's little white console. The uninspired visuals, composed of blocky characters and generic arcade settings, compare poorly to those of many other games in the genre. And without any sort of career mode or narrative, there's little reason to boot up the game unless you can find a few family members or friends interested in playing with you.
But at least the minigames are more or less well designed. The surprisingly challenging trivia game is good fun for older quiz game fans. Our testers also enjoyed shuffleboard, which, despite its sometimes buggy controls, proved an engaging game of strategy. But the deepest of the minigames is darts, which offers half a dozen classic, point-based challenges that fans of the real world game will recognize, including 701 and cricket. It also makes the most nuanced use of the Wii remote, accurately detecting and translating slight shifts in wrists and fingers with each toss. If no one in your family is an avid fan of any of Game Party's classic games, you may not get more than an hour or two of play out of it. Still, that's not a terrible deal for a game that costs just $20.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the enduring appeal of a traditional game like darts. What is it about classic games that keeps generation after generation interested in them? Are video game simulations of a game like shuffleboard as entertaining as the real thing? Do you think that there are any video games that people will still be playing 50 or 100 years from today?
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