For fans of its predecessor, Wii Party U gives a substantial and meaty upgrade. With over 80 mini-games, various returning party modes such as House Party and TV Party, and an appealing use of the console’s GamePad, the title gives a lively boost to any get-together. But that’s not to say the game is without its flaws, suffering from a few mini-game duds and lacklustre modes that rarely bring anything new to the table.
Designed to be played with family and friends, Wii Party U has some fantastic game modes, with notable ones including Sketchy Situation, Water Runners and Folk Dance Fever in House Party. All three games modes here make great use of the Wii U’s GamePad – which has often been relegated to a handy map or guide for the player in other such games. But in the party title, the GamePad is used to its full advantage.
Sketchy Situation can have up to four players displaying their artistry skills; however with only 15 seconds on the clock, you’re not going to be drawing any masterpieces. The beauty of the game is that one player is given a different object or action to draw and, as it’s closely related to what the other three players have drawn, the game can produce some startling and – more often than not – hilarious results. Playing a number of rounds or games in a row will rarely result in the same prompts being given, which ensures you’ll continuously have a blast with other players.
Both Water Runners and Folk Dance Fever require the GamePad to be set down somewhere in the room that has plenty of space, so depending on where your Wii U is based and how big the room you’re playing in is, it will affect the results of the game modes. Water Runners plays out a lot like a classic egg-and-spoon race, where you place the GamePad as far as you can away from the TV. By scooping up your water with your Wii remote, you must race to the TV to fill up your jar quickly, but you’ve got to be careful as any player who knocks into you can also deplete your water. Other than the amusement of pushing each other out the way in order to win, the GamePad may find it difficult to register numerous remotes at the same time. So while your friend is running away to victory, you could be stuck endlessly scooping water and looking on in envy.
TV Party generally serves up some great modes, with Highway Rollers as one of the best for its use of luck – frustrating for skilled players, but a stroke of genius for casuals. Like Sketchy Situation, you’ll rarely find a mini-game repeated, however you’ll encounter occasional duds based purely off luck – choosing hats on a stand, or rolling counters into an arcade machine to name a couple. But you’ll also find hysterical mini-games such as one where you have to shout or scream into the GamePad to knock off rival players, or brain-teasers that take you into Indiana Jones territory – it can be a real mixed bag.
If you’re looking to play on your own, however, there’s not much on offer. TV Party’s Balldozer is similar to those penny arcade machines and Teammate Madness is particularly lacklustre. On the other hand, children will love playing dress-up in Mii Fashion Plaza, as well as playing Table Foosball or Tabletop Gauntlet – a miniature version of the board game Screwball Scramble – on the GamePad with a friend.
Wii Party U dishes out a good deal of fun with friends and family when played in spurts, offering up vivacious activities for all ages. But occasional mini-game flops and bland game modes take the sparkle and spirit from the festivities, leaving you with a Mii that’s all partied out.