Big Kahuna Party (WiiWare)

Game Review

Big Kahuna Party Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Spencer McIlvaine

Is WiiWare puzzler Big Kahuna Party a beach party or a shipwreck?

Big Kahuna Party is a "match-three" game in the style of Bejeweled. This style of play has been around for a while now and there is not much left to add to the genre, though this doesn’t mean there isn’t room in your collection for a fun variation on the theme. So is Big Kahuna Party worth a try?

To its credit, Big Kahuna Party attempts to inject new life into this tired old formula. Instead of boring square shaped puzzles, you will play on a variety of oddly shaped screens. Some of these will leave you scratching your head as to how it could be possible to ever match something in so small a space. This adds a new kind of challenge not present in similar games.

However, the game is easier than it sounds because your goal is not to get every match possible. Rather, you simply need to break every "box" on the screen. A "box" is simply a regular square, but animated as being inside a box. Matching the item inside that square breaks the box. Clearing all boxes finishes the level and moves you on to the next. It’s as simple as that.

The way you match items is to simply point the Wii remote at the item you want, click it, and then do the same with the one next to it. It is simple, elegant, and how one would expect it to work. The only problem is that unless you have a very steady hand, you will likely need to use both hands to hold the remote steady as the squares are very small. This style of game actually works better with a mouse on a pc because the desk holds your mouse steady for you.

When you finish a level, you are rewarded with a fish. The more levels you complete, the more fish appear in your aquarium. That’s right ... look out My Aquarium. There’s a new fish tank simulator in town called Big Kahuna Party. You can fill your tank with fish that you’ve unlocked in the game and run it as Wiiware’s “killer app”: a screensaver.

As you progress through the increasingly difficult levels, you’ll find some handy tools, such as a bomb that will blow up a huge chunk of the screen. You will also face additional challenges, such as squares that are "locked" and will not fall down until you match the items inside, thus breaking the lock. These new elements keep the game interesting as you unlock and attempt to use new abilities.

There is a multiplayer aspect to the game as well: a competitive mode and a cooperative mode. In reality, both modes are cooperative as in each you work to finish the level. Competitive mode just means that you each get a score at the end. We would have enjoyed true competition, specifically the ability to hurt your opponent. Without that competitive aspect, multiplayer is of limited appeal as it only lets you and a friend work together to complete a game. You could have done that anyway with one remote and talking to each other. Instead, this game mode just gives you and your friend an option to play the same game at the same time but without having to talk to one another. On the other hand, for larger groups the game allows up to four players to play simultaneously, and this is certainly more fun than watching one person play.

For replay, this style of game has always provided a good value because it is addictive, and each time you play things work out a bit different. Moreover, the unique board layouts should add some life over the long run that other games in this genre cannot provide. If you do not already have one of these games on your Wii, then Big Kahuna Party will have a long life span.


Big Kahuna Party is a fun new spin on an old classic. If you can’t get enough of this style of game, or if you’ve never played one before, then this is an obvious download for you. If you have already had your fill of this kind of game, then the new twists may help you squeeze a little more enjoyment out of it, but probably not for long. Make no mistake, Big Kahuna Party is a fun game. But so are all of the other Bejeweled clones. It’s a victim of its own success.

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User Comments (43)



Wiiloveit said:

As Bass X0 said, I was expecting worse, but I'm still not going to get it when it is released over here.



gameking23 said:

Well at least this game is decent. It is better than other puzzlers like Bang! for instance.



Corbs said:

Great review as always Spencer! I might actually pick this one up at some point down the line.



calculon said:

Looks like the sort of crap you'd type out from of a Linux magazine tutorial. Now which issue should I look for?

This is exactly the kind of junk (and the kind of scoring) that encourages this sort of garbage to keep appearing on the service. As long as someone gives these games an easy ride, they'll just keep coming. If it were down to me I'd start taking SERIOUS points off of any game like this simply for its lack of imagination.

What the hell, I really don't care anymore - keep 'em coming - these games are doing a bang up job of improving people's perception of the service. That's why I'm heading for the Homebrew Channel - I get the same sort of thing for free.



MrPoo6321 said:

This does seem like a decent puzzle game. However, I am getting really sick and tired of the overwhelming flood of puzzle games. Every week I feel like I can always count on the release of a puzzle game.
Here is the current ratio of games on WiiWare:
Action - 5 Games
Adventure - 1 Game
Arcade - 2 Games
Board Games - 0 Games
Creative - 0 Games
Driving - 0 Games
Education - 0 Games
Fighting- 0 Games
Import - 0 Games
Platformer - 1 Game
Racing - 1 Game
Relaxation - 1 Game
RPG - 1 Game
Shooter - 4 Games
Simulation - 3 Games
Sports - 7 Games
Strategy - 0 Games
Puzzle - 21 Games!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Other - 11 Games - Pit Crew Panic, Strong Bad Series, Art Style Series, My Pokemon Ranch, TV Show King and VIP Casino: Blackjack.

I don't know about you guys, but I could definitely go for some more Adventure, Racing, RPG, Platforming or Arcade games. And what about those genres that have yet to receive a game like Strategy and Fighting???? Come on, surely we could have a fighting game sometime soon. And something decent please.



Wiiloveit said:

@Calculon: Seeing as it's Christmas, will you do us all a favour and be a little nicer on WiiWare? Don't take this the wrong way - but you only ever seem to complain.



Starwolf_UK said:

You know what they should do with Bejeweled...make a Bejeweled racing game...why racing? Every other genre has been done (appologies to Henry Hatsworth if the puzzle section of that game doesn't play like Bejeweled).

If it were 500 points the tropical theme could allow it to compete with My Aquarium.



Wiiloveit said:

The theme here just puts me off completely - I'd even settle for a Bang! theme over this.



Kaeobais said:

I'd recommend just buying Colums from the VC Genesis. It's 100 points more then this, but it's worth it.



Gabbo said:

That's a different kind of puzzle game though. And it doesn't come with an Aquarium.

It's not garbage. It's a 6! Surely as a robot you must know that numbers don't lie!



calculon said:

I only complain because most of the stuff on WiiWare is nothing more than average unremarkable junk - a constant barrage of mediocrity that is only encouraged by the fact that people seem to rate average as good and poor as average, which of course means excellent actually means 'good but un-exceptional'.

The only exceptions to my point are World of Goo, Toki Tori and Tetris Party - the rest as far as I'm concerned can swim the quagmire of mediocrity regardless of license ties. I look forward to the odd WiiWare title (such as Cave Story and High Voltage's racer) but until the service removes the aroma of half-arsed effortless waffle, I'm more than happy to maintain my disdain for the majority of what it offers.

Take me as I am or request for my account to be canceled if you like - but be certain that I won't change for anyone.



Clayfrd said:

Not bad. I don't want another puzzler, but if the review is to be trusted (which I don't doubt), then this game is at least decent.



CanisWolfred said:

Considering the fact that I hated Bejewel, I don't think I'd want to play a Bejewel clone. Pass.



Hyperfludd said:

I got this for my mom, she loved it. It's not a bad game folks.

Just because it's not behind a big company name or an IP doesn't automatically mean it's shovelware.



calculon said:

Not even Cheryl Cole - and Santa already knows about the hounds around my house



Corbs said:

@ Calculon - So what exactly did you expect from WiiWare, because it's been exactly what I thought it would be. A bunch of average titles with a sprinkling of good and great games here and there. It's actually been even better than I expected given the independent development nature of the service. These are, after all, cheap little games that are quickly developed and released with little to no marketing behind them.



shadows262 said:

another puzzler on wiiware...sigh im mad!
No its all nintendo`s fault that this service is “average”. If Nintendo would just put some effort into their OWN downloading service maybe it would show these little devolopers what they “should” and “CAN” do. AND it would make us Nintendo Luvers happy.



Twilight_Crow said:

I like Bejeweled, and I'd love to play it on the wii, I'm glad at least we got this one and it ain't that bad either, btw nice review.



Ricardo91 said:

Wow. After seeing IGN's review of this game that score seems a bit too generous.

Thanks, but no thanks. I'll just get the flash version for free.



BulbasaurusRex said:

Anybody else agree with me that WiiWare shouldn't release any more puzzle games for the next 6 months?



Gabbo said:

@Mr. Cheez
Oh I don't know. That's all relative. I would have said IGN gave it one of their best Wiiware reviews yet.

Some people just don't like Wiiware games in general. And that's fine. But we don't need to take out our frustrations on Big Kahuna Party. There are plenty of other games that really deserve it.



Clayfrd said:

@shadows262 - Let's face it. If it weren't for shovelware, it would be impossible to have a release day once a week. They have to put something out each week.



Robster said:

Why would they HAVE put out something every (two) weeks? I'd rather wait a bit longer for a game and get more quality. I thought WiiWare would be a platform for fresh new independant publishers on which they could develop their interesting new ideas. Well, it turned out everything but that. Lot's of cheap cash-ins and an interesting game once in a while.
I like the offering on my PSN account better, games like 'Flow' or the PixelJunk games, upcoming NobyNobyBoy or Flower. WiiWare needs more games like that!



EJD said:

I predicted a 6 for this game; I agree with many others that they are plenty of puzzle WiiWare games already. It would be great to see more variety in the future.

As for BKP, I'll pass this one when it's out here and wait for WOG and Orbient to be out.



KnucklesSonic8 said:

This game is far from garbage guys. I don't regret getting it and I'm enjoying it. That's all that matters. Maybe a 7/10 in my books and that's a good as far as I'm concerned.



WikWarrior said:

C'mon guys! This game isn't half bad. And I would like to point out that this isn't a clone of some newer game. It is simply a wii version of the big kahuna series for the PC and Mac. It's been around for awhile, so it isn't some new thing on the block. Give it some slack! I played a ton of it, and at least it's better than Bejeweled! I'm a shooter gamer to the core, but I like this game!



Adamant said:

Having just downloaded this, I'd say it's worth a 7 myself. It's not going to astound you or anything, but it's a new nd interesting take on Bejeweled, with some nice ideas behind the stages and nice powerups. Worth a download if you like this kind of puzzlers.



wiiplayer_415 said:

Has anyone played the computer version called Big Kahuna Reef? It came out a couple of years ago.




I'm a puzzle addict and I'm not attracted to this. It may be the presentation of the tiles that turns me off. Still, I think I would find it a better game than madstone.



Gabbo said:

This and Madstone are two different kinds of games, of course. But as far as longevity goes, you're right. I grew bored of Madstone and don't play it anymore. But this I'm still playing to this day and still love it. And I reviewed both games. Woops!



wiiwareaddict said:

Great game! My 8 year old and I completed this and we had a lot of fun doing it.Note: when playing 2 players it can be frustrating at times because you get ready to click on one and the other person clicks below you and it changes the jewels before you get a chance to select yours.




I'm actually going to download this if it ever comes our way. Thanks for the revw. Whatever happened to Calculon? Heh heh

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