(WiiWare)

Game Review

Family & Friends Party Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Steven Small

Will WiiWare newcomer Gammick Entertainment get this party started?

The Wii is no stranger to party games or mini-game compilations; in fact, it would be no exaggeration to say that the machine’s success is largely due to the brilliance of multiplayer titles like Wii Sports and Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. However, familiarity breeds contempt and Gammick Entertainment's first offering on WiiWare is sure to draw the ire of gamers as they chalk it off as another mini-game shovelware experience. Upon closer examination though, this “interactive board game” does possess some redeeming qualities, and while it hardly qualifies as a triple-A title, it certainly doesn’t deserve to be branded as shovelware.

To get started, you use between one to four Wii Remotes, depending on the number of people playing. This game can host up to eight people in local play depending on the play mode chosen. It's worth mentioning that maximum enjoyment requires at least four people. Even though it supports one player, it is not recommended as a solo affair. Therefore, it's a shame there is no on-line functionality as this game would benefit greatly from Wi-Fi play.

On boot up, you're greeted with a cartoonish game title and the host that will assist you in your journey to victory or defeat. It is immediately noticeable that the developers took their time with the user interface here. The presentation values are very clean and simple, menu design is not overly complicated, and IR functionality is faultless.

You have three choices within the play mode screen depending on how many Wii Remotes are activated. One Wii Remote defaults to "Team Attack" mode whereby you and another player, CPU or human, will take on the host and try to complete the challenges in ten turns or less. Two, three or four Wii Remotes allow you to choose "Family & Friends Party." You will have two to four teams with two to four people per team and the goal is to be the first team to complete the challenges.

The third and final play mode is "Triangular Party." This mode is only available with three people, each with their own Wii Remote. Once again, the ultimate goal is to be the first team to complete the challenges. As you might expect, the strongest mode is Family & Friends Party since this is where the game truly shines. With less than four people and it becomes a rather boring exercise. One great thing in setting up your teams is the Mii integration. You can choose between the in-game character models or you can select your own personal avatar; it never ceases to amaze how few developers bother to include this feature and Gammick should be applauded for doing so.

After getting set up your play mode, the actual "Party" begins. The object of the game is to complete all six "Single Challenges" before ten turns is up if playing "Team Attack", or to be the first team to complete all "Single Challenges" if playing the other two modes. The "Single Challenges" are presented to you at random and are exceedingly easy for anybody over the age of ten. Each team will take turns to complete one of these challenges within a limited amount of time based on its complexity. Upon the successful completion of a "Single Challenge", the team will be rewarded with coins. If you fail, no coins are awarded and the host will pour scorn your team’s pitiful efforts. After each team attempts a "Single Challenge," one of five "Versus Challenges" will appear where all teams must compete at the same time. Whichever team is left standing at the end will get the bonus coins. Unfortunately, none of the eleven challenges are particularly inspiring in their variety or innovation; most are a direct rip-off of some well known games such as Charades, Hangman or Wheel of Fortune.

Coins can be used in a shop to purchase one of the "Single Challenges.". If you do not have enough coins to purchase, you will be given one randomly. The danger here is you may be given a challenge you've already completed, thus potentially setting you back compared to other teams. If you cannot successfully complete a "Single Challenge" after trying it three times (whether through random selection or through the shop), you will be given an option to purchase a "Completion" for that challenge -- these are very expensive and are only an option if you happen to have the requisite coins. The first team to complete all six "Single Challenges," which are kept track of by emblems imprinted on your team's pedestal, wins. Simple!

A couple of niggles spring to mind here. Two of the "Single Challenges" are perfect examples of lazy game design. They require nothing other than one or two people reading something on the screen and performing the said action. You will then be asked if you succeeded in performing the action, which you can answer by clicking yes or no. This breaks the immersion the game tries to create. The second note is the complete lack of audio enhancement. The host is a mute who lets slip some sounds now and then but mainly communicates via text bubbles prompting you what to do. Save for a few campy audio clips and background noise, the game is eerily silent, although you could argue that the predictably boisterous banter between the human participants will make up for this.

Conclusion

Family & Friends is a mini-game compilation with decent production values and a good premise behind what is being offered. The main issues are lack of depth, absence of originality, unbalanced difficulty in some of the challenges, absence of Wi-Fi play, poor audio effects and its steep asking price. At 1000 Wii points this game feels overpriced compared to its competition. While it aspires to be more than a budget WiiWare title and succeeds in shrugging off the shovelware status some might have attached to it, there isn’t enough innovation and gameplay depth on offer here. This is a great party to take your family and friends along to, but sadly the entrance fee just isn’t realistic.

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User Comments (50)

CorbsAdmin

#2

Corbs said:

Great review Steven. This one turned out about like I expected it to.

calculon

#5

calculon said:

Looks like one of those games that you find in a pub, chuck a couple of quid into then wish you could smash the machine up to get it back.

Ahem ... in other words: I'll pass on this when (and if) it arrives on our shores.

On a more positive note. I have heard whispers of DLC coming to Onslaught - or possibly even a spin-off/sequel. Which is awesome news.

Chunky_Droid

#6

Chunky_Droid said:

Holy crap, I predicted a 4, then a 2, no way I thought this'd get a 5. I thought you didn't listen to IGN Doogle ;)

Doogle

#8

Doogle said:

@chunky - I always like to read IGNs reviews out of morbid curiosity - even if I don't agree with them most of the time! :D

PapaSmalls

#9

PapaSmalls said:

@Party On Dude and tatemon555: It's not completely devoid of any fun and it's not utter crap. There are certainly strong shortcomings with the game as far as offering bang for the buck. However, if you look at it for what it is, it does it quite well compared to what expectations for these types of games offer. So rest assured, it's far removed from being shovelware, but it's not quite a treasure trove of enjoyment either ;-)

@Corbie: Thanks! It was exciting writing my first review and it certainly is different when the pressure is on "you" to say what you mean and mean what you say. I look forward to doing more in the future!

@chunky_droid: It's not often reviewers will agree or come close to agreeing on things. It's nice to see though that other reviewers do take the time to examine a game and realize while overall the package isn't quite up to snuff, there can be redeeming qualities which this game certainly has.

PALgamer

#10

PALgamer said:

"and while it hardly qualifies as a triple-A title" What? lol.
Awesome score. But, how could a game like this benefit from online?

KnucklesSonic8

#12

KnucklesSonic8 said:

"...and while it hardly qualifies as a triple-A title, it certainly doesn’t deserve to be branded as shovelware."

Great start!

"The "Single Challenges" are presented to you at random and are exceedingly easy for anybody over the age of ten."

Uh-oh... Mind you, Pablo did say that it can be hard with multiple players because it IS a race, essentially.

"The host is a mute who lets slip some sounds now and then but mainly communicates via text bubbles prompting you what to do. "
I'd rather him be mute than annoy me like crazy....

Solid review, man! I'm definitely looking forward to more reviews from you in the future. I had feared that this game would be bashed but it seems like there IS some enjoyment to had, if only to add a bit of saving grace for the overpriced price tag. I had a feeling that the price tag they placed would be like shooting themselves in the foot because TBH, I probably would've given it a try if it were 500 Points. 1,000 is just TOO much. Jungle Speed is much more worth my points than this and again, I'll say that I don't regret getting Jungle Speed as I've had some REALLY enjoyable experiences from it with friends. :D Thanks again for a great review. :)

@PALgamer: Well, it's highly debatable actually, much like in the way Mario Party could benefit from online play - which is a must with the next entry and highly likely with Hudson's experience, now, with Wi-fi integration. Personally I think this game is one of those games where more enjoyment comes from a local group of friends. But I could see the Pictionary game working very well over Wi-fi.

@calculon: That's corrrrect, monsieur! :P

@Doogle: Yep yep. Except their reviews lately have been sub-par and their review for this game was no exception. Barely any substance at all just like their review for Snowboard Riot. It's like they barely put any effort into it... at least, if they did, it certainly doesn't show. The last review that impressed me was for Deadly Creatures. Since then, nothing has stood out, really.

PapaSmalls

#13

PapaSmalls said:

@PALgamer: I was simply stating that while nobody would consider it a AAA title, it certainly isn't shovelware either. As to how could it benefit from online? Easy. Since it requires multiple people to truly enjoy the game, allowing for online play with say...16 people, would certainly be more advantatageous for someone like myself who only has myself and my wife. Being able to connect my Wii to say my brother's who are 500 miles away as well as some friends who are in other states, we could have a true party game night! Inclusion of Wii Speak would have been perfect for this too. Online and inclusion of Wii Speak would certainly make the $10 easier to swallow!

@KnucklesSonic8: Thanks for the kind words and at first I was all set to bash the game simply on the premise alone. However that would have certainly been an injustice to Gammick Entertainment and I certainly felt I owed them and you (the readers) a fair look at the game. We certainly aren't perfect in our biases, but it does pay to look at things differently from time to time :)

Ren

#14

Ren said:

You know, if I was in the right mood and had some non-video game friends over for a drink I could see myself doing this for like 500-600 points, but 1000? Compared to other games on WW now it's just not smart to try to go there without better hype or a wider appeal. What were they thinking?

KnucklesSonic8

#15

KnucklesSonic8 said:

@Ren: That's what IGN's review highlighted too... Heh.

@PapaSmall: Yeah, no prob! It's always nice to get a fair review.
And yeah, Wii Speak inclusion would've been great. I'm sure devs will be using it this year in future WW Titles but I'm surprised it hasn't been incorporated yet... So I think it's unanimous: In short, the game's not shovelware, but it's not great; it's got some enjoyment when with 4 people or more but for 1,000, it's just too overpriced.

Olimar_91

#16

Olimar_91 said:

Good review smalls.

It's kind of unfortunate just how many Wiiware titles rank a 5 or below here. There is definitely some cream in the crop... But why should we have to wade through so much bad in order to get to it?

Kaeobais

#17

Kaeobais said:

Doesn't it sound like their making fun of Wii? I mean, Gimmick Entertainment?

Either way, this game didn't look like it was gonna do good.

PapaSmalls

#18

PapaSmalls said:

@Olimar_91: Overcrowding of "dissapointing" games is certainly the bane of every gamer. Thankfully, making more informed choices these days are easier (and sometimes harder) due to the internet and other media sources. Back when I was a young 'un, all I had to go on was the game's boxart to determine whether or not I should play it. Which begs the question, what on earth did I see in MegaMan's boxart that prompted me to buy it haha!

GabboStaff

#19

Gabbo said:

Very well written review Steven. And thanks for taking that bullet for the rest of us!

PapaSmalls

#20

PapaSmalls said:

@Gabbo: My pleasure of course =) In all honesty, it isn't that bad and I can easily see this game being used when I have friends and family over. Not sure how "long" it'll be used, but it'll be used which is the point I would think haha. So no worries on taking a bullet as it certainly isn't as painful as people might think ;-)

Rawk_Hawk

#21

Rawk_Hawk said:

1000 points is overpriced. I would rather get Big Brain Academy instead since its a better party game

EJD

#22

EJD said:

I expected a 5 just from seeing the title. I don't feel this game will do well but then again Pong Toss had a long run on the charts. I hope games like this won't be the only multiplayer games we'll see on WiiWare.

Wiiloveit

#23

Wiiloveit said:

@Party On Dude: since when was a five "crap"? According to the scoring policy (which you obviously haven't read) a five is simply "average" - not crap at all.

Neomega

#24

Neomega said:

Ok I'm new here so give me a few comments to conform to this style.

But I've gotta say great review! I'm glad you looked for the good in this and gave an "average" score.

Also 1000 points is not overpriced if you have replay value, friends, and some ...appeal!

But 600-800 would've fared better.

KnucklesSonic8

#25

KnucklesSonic8 said:

And yeah, PapaSmalls, look at the bright side. In at least 5 weeks, you'll get survey for it on Club Nintendo that'll net you some coins. Not a bad reward at all! lol.

Another positive: At least you didn't have to take a bullet for Family Glide Hockey, or worse, Hockey All-Star Shootout. O_o Count your blessings. XD

But yeah, I'm glad you're enjoying this game because another thing I'm finding in common with the reviews so far is that you'll play it again if you have friends/family over so I'm sure they used that type of appeal to price the game and, to a lesser extent, determine a name for the game too which, admittedly, isn't terribly original. XD

Bahamut_ZERO

#26

Bahamut_ZERO said:

Another new reviewer? Thats it, it was a joke before, but now Im convinced Corbie and Dazza are just plain lazy :P

Anyway, good review. I guess the main problem is it's too easy and boring for solo use?

PapaSmalls

#27

PapaSmalls said:

@Bahamut ZERO: Well variety is the spice of life you know :) The more reviewers, the more opinions and we all know we could use more of those haha!

As to the game I wouldn't necessarily sum it up in those words. I think KnucklesSonic8 summed it up best when he said: "In short, the game's not shovelware, but it's not great; it's got some enjoyment when with 4 people or more but for 1,000, it's just too overpriced."

CorbsAdmin

#28

Corbs said:

I'm semi-retired now. Living the good life here in Miami having drinks on the beach. Actually it's just the way the draw has turned up. I was supposed to review Bit.Trip.Beat but it didn't come out as we thought it might last week and possibly this week so I took the Ogre Battle review on VC-Reviews instead. :D

Chunky_Droid

#33

Chunky_Droid said:

@PapaSmall: They were just my predictions on the Ogre Battle page, the 5 seriously surprised me. I'm aware different reviewers have different opinions, and it just so happens that IGN never have the same opinion as me :)

PapaSmalls

#34

PapaSmalls said:

@quickfingers: Thanks! Don't know about the famous part, but I certainly hope to keep them coming when the opportunity arises!

@chunky_droid: Ah I understand now :) Yes, IGN and I certainly differ on review scores a lot of times too. Hopefully the 5 makes sense given the wording behind the game though ;)

Objection

#35

Objection said:

Nice first review. Excellent job on taking a look at what it offers and how it plays to an audience that is (mostly) unfamilar with the title. 5/10 is around what I expected but the review justified it nicely.

Metroid133

#36

Metroid133 said:

Good review, Smalls! While this looks and sounds interesting I can't see me getting this anytime soon. While the multiplayer sounds fun I don't have my friends over enough to get it, but I could send it to my friend since I can guarantee him and his family would love it. :P.....I should send him a good game first though. :P

Shortay

#37

Shortay said:

Great debut review, Steven - very informative and well written. Welcome to the team. :)

PapaSmalls

#38

PapaSmalls said:

@Objection_Blaster: I appreciate the kind words, thank you. Glad the review made sense and justifies the end result for you!

@Metroid133: Haha, I would certainly recommend sending some of the other alternatives available first, but this game certainly wouldn't be hateful if there were nothing else in the mix ;)

@Shortay: Thanks, I appreciate that!

EJD

#42

EJD said:

@PapaSmalls: Forgot to mention this; a great review. :D It's nice to see you trying to find the best aspects in a game rather than focusing on the negative points as I've seen in gaming magazines. Hope to see more from you. :)

Neomega

#43

Neomega said:

We need the old-school EGM reviewing style!
3 reviewers for each game!
But everyone gets a raise!
Double your current pay!
Oh wait you guys don't get paid?.....even better!
We'll triple it!

Super_Daddy-o

#44

Super_Daddy-o said:

Good review Psmalls! Ever the optimist I see! You highlight the games redeeming qualities well, but its cons are too much for me. As one of the stingiest Wii point/space misers around, I can't justify the coin or the blockage for a stripped-down, repackaged, Big Brain Academy clone with "Family" and "Friends" plastered across it to pander to Mom and Pop and Granny's uninformed wallets! :D
(my apologies to any INFORMED Moms, Pops, and Grannys who frequent Wiiware World :) ) I do look forward to your future reviews and hopefully next time you will have more to work with ;)

yasuharu

#45

yasuharu said:

Good review Smalls, though that is no surprise to me. You always seem to think about what you say before you say it. Good to see that Super Daddy-o is still around too.

Tides_of_Chaos

#46

Tides_of_Chaos said:

Good to see you reviewing again PapaSmalls (I still remember the Nintendo Forums reviews for VC games). Very nice job showing the positives and an accurate score too. Hope to see more of you soon!

KnucklesSonic8

#47

KnucklesSonic8 said:

@Neomega: Great idea. That goes in line with the suggestion not too long ago about a "second opinion" section. Honestly, I think we need it (and not just because two people said I should be part of the aforementioned section, lol).

There's such a mix of opinions on WiiWare games, I think that by having 2 or even 3 ratings on the game (as in, one person does the main review and 1/2 others add a mini-review as to what their thoughts are) so we can see how each review differs based on the opinions on each reviewer because, let's face it, some of the opinions on certain WiiWare games have caused much discussion.

A1234

#48

A1234 said:

great review Smalls! i finally found my way over here. glad to be here! so, another company with a funny name. maybe they should be called "gimmick" entertainment? ;)

SKTTR

#49

SKTTR said:

I just hope the bug (uncompatibility with some Miis / game freezes) will be fixed soon. Then it could be an enjoyable party game. The few minutes that we could play the game before it crashed, we found some funny ideas there, very different from most other party games, so I hope EnjoyUp / Gammick Entertainment is going to update this game.

PS: Sorry for the outburst last time. Me & my friends were really disappointed (and drunk) because we couldn't play it.

SKTTR

#50

SKTTR said:

WARNING: The review does not inform you about several bugs that make this game a torture to play! Random crashes that occur every few minutes are just one of many serious flaws.

I strongly recommend to waste your 1.000 points on something else. Get Happy Holidays Halloween and Urban Champion instead, I'm dead serious!

We all really regret to have downloaded this piece of junk and deleted it from our Wii/SD Card.

Too bad we can't take it back just like a faulty, damaged retail game.
You cannot get a refund or trade in a faulty, damaged download game :(

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