Our House: Party!

Game review by
Christopher Healy, Common Sense Media
Our House: Party! Game Poster Image
One giant commercial for Home Depot, but minigames are fun.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Along with the heavy dose of Home Depot consumerism, this game encourages players to sabotage one another (in ways such as pulling nails out of the fence someone is trying to put up or smashing the tiles someone is trying to lay out on a kitchen floor). Characters can buy special tools at Home Depot that can aid in ruining your opponents' games. Also, the main goal of the game is money-based: Who can raise the value of their home the highest?  

Positive Role Models & Representations

The avatars you'll control are terrible sports. Winners of each round dance and gloat, while the losers throw tantrums.

Ease of Play

The controls for some of the mini-games are more difficult than others, but on the whole, Our House: Party! is relatively simple to play. The only issue is that, if the game is played by any fewer than four people, computer-controlled AI characters will fill out the empty slots—and they will be very, very tough competitors.

Violence & Scariness

You will spray bugs with pesticide, watching them crumple and fall. You may also accidentally hit a bug with a hammer, resulting in a spurt of green goo and a squishing sound. Losing players' avatars sometimes hit themselves in a head with a shovel out of frustration.

Language

There's no real swearing to be heard, just Yosemite Sam type gibberish. But one grumpy old character's grumbling sounds a little too close to, "Oh, damn."

Consumerism

This game might as well be titled, "Home Depot: The Game." Home Depot ads are literally all over the game, and a shopping-at-Home-Depot mini-game takes place before every single round. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this enjoyable chaotic party game is effectively one big commercial for Home Depot. The home improvement chain's logo and slogans appear incessantly throughout Our House: Party!, as well as messages about what great sales the store has. This extreme product placement has no direct effect on the gameplay, which is generally quite fun. Parents should also be aware of the game's materialistic goals: Build the grandest, most expensive house, and you come in first place. Richest-player-wins is a long-standing goal of many games, going back to Monopoly and other classics, but in today's economic climate and housing market, it may pose more of an issue for some parents. 

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What's it about?

In OUR HOUSE: PARTY!, four players compete in a series of home-improvement themed minigames in order to beautify and raise the value of their virtual houses. Before each project, players will race through the aisles of Home Depot to beat each other to deals on tools. Then they will act out, with motion controls, tasks such as painting walls, connecting pipes, wiring electronic equipment, moving furniture, mowing lawns, etc.

Is it any good?

Our House: Party! can provide an entertaining multi-player experience, as long as players are comfortable with incredibly unsubtle marketing throughout by Home Depot. Minigame collections for the Nintendo Wii are a dime a dozen , but the competitions in Our House feel fresh and different. And unlike many other collections of this type, each of the minigames in Our House actually leads toward one central goal. How you perform on each individual project will effect the appearance of your virtual house throughout the remainder of the competition. The ramifications of losing a round can actually be quite comical. For instance, if you come in fourth place in the porch-building challenge, your otherwise beautiful Victorian home will be stuck with a ridiculously ramshackle entryway, including dangling planks of wood and random holes in the porch floor. 

One other big gripe: there are random events that occur between rounds, which will either raise or lower a player's score, and could potentially decide the winner of the game in a very anti-climactic way. 

Online interaction: Players can share their saved houses with registered friends. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about product placement — why a certain brand name appears in a game or movie, and whether or not that means the brand is better than any other. Why would Home Depot want to market to kids?

  • Families can discuss good sportsmanship, and how they can compete against one another in games without hurting feelings or building resentments. 

  • They can also talk about importance of taking care of one's home. Why are some home improvement jobs necessities and other not?

Game details

  • Platforms: Nintendo Wii
  • Price: $39.99
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: Majesco
  • Release date: September 27, 2009
  • Genre: Mini-games
  • ESRB rating: E for Animated Blood, Mild Cartoon Violence

For kids who love playing with others

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