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First Impressions: Wii Party U

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Let's get it started, in here

So, Wii Party U's evolved from a Summer Party to a Holiday Party, courtesy of the development delay confirmed by Satoru Iwata at E3. That's fine with us here at Nintendo Life, as we think every day is a party day, so we happily wandered over to the the demo unit at a recent preview event ready for the ultimate digital kegger, where beer is replaced by smiling Mii characters and bright colours.

The friendly Nintendo representative set us up with three games, which put the GamePad and accompanying Wii Remotes to reasonable use, and those that we played did demonstrate one thing in particular — this mini-game collection looks set to deliver plenty of variety. Nintendo's never shied away from taking small, basic concepts, wrapping them in a cute bow and encouraging gamers of all persuasions and ages to have at it, preferably while sitting next to each other on a stylish sofa. It was one part of the Wii's "blue ocean" vision and, naturally, has a role to play on the Wii U.

The first game we played was the most embarrassing for the participants, which was exactly the point — Name That Face. With a host that looked like a talking egg, it adopted the presentation of a cheesy daytime TV quiz show, all flashing lights with Mii characters smiling their way through it all. The concept was very simple: each player takes it in turns to use the GamePad, it gives a description — which you keep to yourself — and you must use the controller's camera to snap a picture of your face pulling an expression to match. The GamePad player receives points based on how many rivals match the right description to the silly pose, while players get points for making the correct choice; it's a simple but clever way to maintain competition but, ultimately, have everyone pulling in the same direction.

Whether it's the twee presentation or the company you keep, this is ideal for shedding inhibitions and having silly fun. With descriptions like "getting a flu jab" and "chewing air" to try and replicate, some truly bizarre facial expressions were shared, while the simplicity of the actions means that it's an immediately accessible and level playing field for all concerned, unlike drawing contests such as Pictionary.

Next up was a tank game, where a GamePad player controls a large machine by using both analogue sticks, while adversaries in mini-tanks use sideways Remotes — as you'd expect, it's a shooting gallery where those in the smaller vehicles team up to take down the larger tank. In our case the team of small tanks always won, despite them being liable to one-hit deaths and the large tank having multiple hit points, as the player on the GamePad had a tough time controlling their beast of a machine. The Nintendo rep on hand helpfully said that we should use both sticks "like you're driving a tank", which wasn't particularly helpful as we'd never enlisted in the armoured division of the armed forces — silly us.

Perhaps the balance is changed if you have a mix of experienced and rookie gamers, but in our case the team of small vehicles crushed the large tank within seconds almost every time, and this felt like a throwaway mini-game that would only be played a few times at home.

The final game we played was one of the "tabletop" options that adopted the Wii U GamePad as a two-player controller, in this case mimicking table foosball. With the controller horizontal, two players take an analogue stick each and move / flick the players in an attempt to score goals, with the goalkeeper having a little more movement. The face-to-face approach of sharing the GamePad works nicely, and though the two players stay focused on the controller's screen, anyone else in the room can watch the action on the TV at the same time. This is a pretty crude mini-game and, aside from the physical control inputs, could easily be something found very cheaply on a tablet app store. Fun, but nothing to shout about.

Of the three games we played, only "Name That Face" seemed substantial and something that friends and family would happily revisit on multiple occasions; the tank and foosball games felt disposable in comparison. Generally, it's tough to judge a mini-game collection based on just three examples, as the final product will offer plenty more variety; what we did see, at least, was an indication of fun and different uses of the GamePad and Wii Remote controllers.

We can certainly envisage this being harmless fun for innocent families and slightly less innocent groups of friends alike, but much will ride on whether the full package delivers enough lasting, addictive minigames to join the throwaway one-offs. We'll see this Holiday season, as the party's just getting started.

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User Comments (39)

Drobotic

#2

Drobotic said:

This better be good.I have high expectations since Wii Party was so good.

OdnetninAges

#4

OdnetninAges said:

Nintendo Land
Game & Wario
Mario & Sonic Sochi 2014
Wii Party U
Mario Party 10 (inevitable)

I don't think the Wii U is going to have a lack of Multi-Player mini-game collections.

GearsOfWarU

#6

GearsOfWarU said:

I would much rather get this instead of that garbage bin game & wario ... I might give this a try

rjejr

#7

rjejr said:

I've never been a fan of mini-game compilations - WarioWare on the Wii was played for about 40 minutes and still stands as our lowest time slotted Wii game - but I did have hopes for this. Wii Play was also lacking, think I traded it in for $1, but Wii Play Move (the one w/ the ghostbusting off the screen) was good. My kids also love Dokapon Kingdom, which is more board game than minigame collection I suppose. And we liked Wii Party w/ it's world traveling board and gameplay options.
So far this has 3 games which all seem boring to me. (Maybe b/c my kids already play 2-player stuff like this for free on my 7" Tab 2.) Why does Nintendo make such boring sounding party games? The Rabbids series is a bunch of minigames but they all had some semblance of presentation. And the minigames in Wii Fit Plus are good, and Sports Resort. This just seems rather un-exciting. And I know Nintendo can do great things b/c they made NintendoLand, which is a minigame collection of games. This looks like it would be ok on Wii, but the WiiU deserves better. Maybe if this were a $10 DL or free w/ a 2nd Gamepad purchase.

I've thought since E3 2012 that the WiiU should come w/ a party game called Wii Play Together that would consist of online video chat play w/ hangman and checkers and battleship that grandparents could play w/ their grandkids while videochatting. So I'm not entirely opposed to minigame collections. But I guess that probably sounds as boring to childless 20 somethings as this sounds to me. ;-)

jon_simmons

#9

jon_simmons said:

Nintendoland was so boring. I hear the same about Game and Wario. I'm staying away from this one. I'm getting real tired of mini-game comps.

Samurairu

#15

Samurairu said:

Looking forward to adding this game to my party games along with Game & Wario and Wii Fit U.

Haxonberik

#16

Haxonberik said:

I really enjoyed playing he original Wii Party with my family, so I'm most definitely getting this game sometime near a family reunion.

Marioman64

#17

Marioman64 said:

omg tank game! i'm assuming it means move like a tank the right stick rotates the tank (clockwise right, counterclockwise left) and the left stick moves the tank forward and backward? I hate when people get mad at tank controls. just because up down left right doesn't make something move up down left right on the screen doesn't mean it's wrong.

anyway I should get this, and the wii one

Marioman64

#18

Marioman64 said:

omg tank game! i'm assuming it means move like a tank the right stick rotates the tank (clockwise right, counterclockwise left) and the left stick moves the tank forward and backward? I hate when people get mad at tank controls. just because up down left right doesn't make something move up down left right on the screen doesn't mean it's wrong.

anyway I should get this, and the wii one

MrZanctom

#19

MrZanctom said:

I have high expectations for this game. I like party games, only when their done right. It was nice to see Game & Wario bring something new to the table (which the last Mario Party ruined my faith of ever seeing a good party game from Nintendo for a while). As long as Wii Party U does something different, I will like it.

andrea987

#20

andrea987 said:

I'll wait for reviews, and I might stick with Wii Party, it's excellent. Only missing online, IMO.

Sylverstone

#25

Sylverstone said:

Well, I thought the tabletop games were well done and had some nice GamePad innovation.

I guess we'll see this October then.

Sceptic

#26

Sceptic said:

This sounds like fun. Nintendo should make local multiplayer a requirement for all WiiU games. Outside of the hardcore nintendo fans that would probably buy dry Tanuki droppings as long as they were named Luigi and Kong and Iwata went on record saying it wasn't about the Tanuki, it was about gameplay, local multiplayer and family/party-capable games are what sells this console.

BlackStar9000

#27

BlackStar9000 said:

@Sceptic Then Nintendo is doing a poopydoodle job of the whole famliy friendly game experiences right now cause my kids would rather play Mario Kart Wii and Wii Sports resort than anything they have right now on the Wii U, also since we dont live together we would LOVE TO PLAY ONLINE NINTENDO. DAMMINT!

Sceptic

#29

Sceptic said:

@BlackStar9000: Same here. We only have the WiiU and the older one has gone back to the PC. We played the team-based titles in Nintendoland to death and now... /shrugs/

But for the first time there's something that shows promise.

Nintendo4Lyfe

#31

Nintendo4Lyfe said:

Where's the fun in playing Wii Party U? I thought this could be the one party title that sells thousands of copies.

unrandomsam

#32

unrandomsam said:

Never had any interest in Wii Party at all. Don't mind Mario Party 8.

I really like the Warioware games so I will probably get Game and Wario eventually regardless of that other people think Famitsu seems to think it is pretty good.

GreatPlayer

#36

GreatPlayer said:

@jon_simmons I wish I could trade in my Nintendo Land, which is collecting dust on my desk. With so many party games in Wii U, I started to doubt whether Nintendo can make more sophisticated games.

takyon98

#37

takyon98 said:

if it's not mario party i dont care dB jk

i like the idea of wii party but i think nintendo should do a adventure game like a uncharted or skyrim like game (hopefully a new I.P)

LEGEND_MARIOID

#38

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

The third party mini game comps, besides a few exceptions, has been dire. However, first party mini game comps have been brilliant. If you've purchased or played the poor, third party mini-game comps then that's your own, poor purchase decision. They can be great, especially with firend and family. Wii Party was outstanding, and one of the top 25-30 games on the excellent wii system of the close to 90 I played (which on the whole all good or brill). Wii Party U is one of my most anticipated games along with Mario party 3ds

ammar003

#39

ammar003 said:

looks awsome but it looks like some games you will play single player but some you will use the wii u game pad in multiply player mode and some just 4 or 5 players with wii remotes and the game pad

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