Game Review

Family Pirate Party Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Kaes Delgrego

Does this new party title set sail for glory or is it forced to walk the plank?

Although some would argue that it flies in the face of common sense, Aksys Games has decided to continue their "Family" franchise with the release of Family Pirate Party. Previous games in the series received unanimous criticism. Unfortunately, Family Pirate Party does little to differentiate itself from its poorly-received predecessors.

Taking the Mario Party syle of gameplay, Family Pirate Party has players traversing a set of islands (i.e. spaces on a board game) and competing for gold...and that's it. There are no alternate methods of play, such as Mario Party's Minigame Mode. Users simply select a character, a stage, the number of turns, and then start.

The game can be played by up to four players, any of which can be controlled by local multiplayer or AI. Character selections are limited to the extremely generic "Mommy," "Daddy," "Billy," and "Sarah" characters. As mentioned, the only single player mode is to start a game by yourself with computer-controlled partners.

After selecting a stage (between which there doesn't seem to be many non-graphical differences), the game begins. Players take turns rolling the dice (which, as expected, involves a wild flailing of the Wiimote) and move the corresponding number of islands. Once you reach an island, your marker is placed there and you earn gold. Similar to Monopoly, anyone who lands on an island that already has your marker will have to give you gold. Certain islands have cannons which can be used to destroy markers. The player with the most gold at the end of the pre-determined number of turns wins.

So what you're left with is a poor man's Mario Party. Indeed, some have been classifying the game as "Mario Party without the mini-games." This isn't quite accurate, as there are brief challenges that take place whenever landing on an island with the "!?" marker. But they pale in comparison to the mini-games of Mario Party. Particularly, they are far too few in number (there's only three as best as I can tell) and are played by only one person at a time. Where's the "family fun" in that? What kept Mario Party going was the use of a mini-game after every person's turn on the board, especially it's random team rules (1 vs 4 to 1 vs 3, everyone for themselves).

And after all, Mario Party's board game section always took a back seat to its mini-games. There have been many instances of friends getting together and just diving into some Mario Party mini-games without even bothering to pay attention to the central board game section. Thus, a mini-game-fest without solid mini-games is quite aimless. Unfortunately for Family Pirate Party, randomly flailing the Wiimote to beat up an octopus just doesn't cut it.

There's some minor excitement thrown in with the "helper" cards, which act similarly to power-ups in Mario Party: moving further, stealing money, skipping turns, etc. But it's not enough to make things terribly interesting. And additional-cost DLC? Seriously?

Development costs are typically quite higher for 3D games than for 2D ones. This leads one to wonder why, if short on resources, the developers couldn't have gone with high-resolution sprites for the game board and characters and instead devoted that time and money to having better fleshed out the playing experience. If there's one mantra that core Wii owners are known to chant, it's "gameplay over graphics."

That's not to say that the graphics are stellar by any means. Rather, the idea should be that when creating a new game for any system, the resource allocation should not automatically grant the largest chunk to creating graphics. It's beating a dead horse at this point in the Wii's lifespan, but no game can survive on graphics alone.

The music isn't hideous, but it could have been much better. It still has the "hotel chain welcome video" sound to it: self-assuringly brisk but not tense and repetitive as heck. It kind of comes with the territory, as any game with significant non-action time tends to have this sort of musical accompaniment (i.e. Wii Fit). Regardless, it's certainly not a saving grace for Family Pirate Party.

What's most unfortunate about games like this is that it risks defining WiiWare as a whole. The reality is that some poor games influence future prejudices on undeserving targets. It's not as though Family Pirate Party was a spectacular failure, but rather that Aksys Games seems content with the package it has delivered. It's understandable to try and not succeed; it's noble even. But to be content with the bare minimum harms not only oneself, but also one's similarly unsung equivalents.


It's almost tough to be too harsh with Family Pirate Party. The game perpetuates a stereotype that is damaging to others. Yet reviews are supposed to be critiques, offering praise and credit where it is due and encouraging promising areas; not just trashing someone else's work because it's fun. But there's frankly just not much to praise. We want Aksys Games to succeed; we want generic underdogs to rise to the challenge and surprise us with how amazing they are. Family Pirate Party is not that game.

From the web

Game Trailer

Subscribe to Nintendo Life on YouTube

User Comments (41)



Sycoraxic98 said:

Ok? DLC might make it better. I though Family Pirate Party was alright, but a little too child friendly.



Knux said:

They should call this Crapware Party,beacuse that's what it really is.
I would LOVE to see Mario Party on VC!



Terra said:

Big surprise, another Family gane that sucked. You'd have thought that they'd got the point by now that the series needs serious improvement.



Corbs said:

Please make our newest reviewer Kaes Delgrego feel welcome. Great review Kaes! That saved me some points.



Bahamut_ZERO said:

I remember when this was first announced and I wondered why it was E10+. Then some guy gave the descriptions from ESRB talking about it's Suggestive Themes. I loled so hard



WolfRamHeart said:

Ouch! A three is pretty harsh but still I'm not surprised by the score. Pirates just can't get a break these days.



Corbs said:

I didn't, Daz did. I'm innocent, I tell you! It's his initiation.



Dazza said:

Haha blame me as always, reviewing a "Family" game is a good initiation to the team. Reviewing a great game is easy after all

Thanks for taking the bullet Kaes, great job!



Philip_J_Reed said:

Ha! Too true, Dazza. It's the Nintendo Life version of hazing. Great job on this, Kaes. I never would have bought it anyway, but I enjoyed the review.



MarkyVigoroth said:

I wonder if the hazed one will get revenge by formatting ALL of the hazer's Wii Systems (thus requiring them to re-buy everything, including that expensive World of Goo)? /hates hazing/



Twilight_Crow said:

Nice review Kaes, and welcome!
I don't like videogame board games that much, especially on wiiware, I'm usually a lonely player, and my place is very small so, my friends prefer me to go over theirs to play; still, I recommend good games like Jungle Speed to them, but I won't recommend this to anyone, thank you.



subzerobf said:

Can't say I'm suprised, but I thought this one had some potential. I think the problem with the Family series, is it's just too generic. Having Family in the title really turns people off.



Ferret75 said:

Two things are making me laugh.

1. This got rated E10+, for jiggle effects, in a FAMILY game. XD
2. DLC? You gotta be kidding me.



AVahne said:

Nintendo can just make another Mario Party game,but they should make it seems as fresh and great as the first few games were.and they should also fix that framerate issue from Mario Party 8.until there is an actual board game style party game that i can play while taking breaks from the more core titles on Wii,i guess i'll just go get Dokapon Kingdom which seems really awesome for a party game



Objection said:

Thanks for the review. Trudge on, brave soldier.
Also, they actually surprised me with this game by it being even worse than its predecessors.



kaes said:

Thank you all so much for the kind words! And hey, the new guy always has to earn his stripes.



KnucklesSonic8 said:

Honestly, I didn't like the review and in many ways its no better than IGN's review. I don't think the game's great but it definitely didn't deserve the judgment it was given. For starters, quit comparing it to Mario Party. It has much more in common with Monopoly than anything else. Besides, consider the game as its own unique style. Geez.

Additionally, there are some notable things that the review overlooks such as the fact that the names of the characters can be changed, plus, the reviewer didn't even bother to go into details about the different stages and how there is some strategy involved (more than the review lets on anyways).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a big supporter of the Family series at all. I hated FTT and regret accepting the gift I was given. That being said, the game has had me have second thoughts about the series.

And no, the game is most definitely NOT worse than its predecessors. FTT is terrible compared to this.

I could go on with complaints but I'll restrain myself. I can see where the reviewer is coming but the game does have some redeeming qualities enough to warrant it a decent score in my books.

The review didn't surprise me at all, honestly. I knew the reviewer would approach the game with a not-so-open mind. Irregardless of that fact, I'm glad I didn't wait for a review because I would've been too hesitant to give it a go. Just like Boingz, the score the game received is undeserving.

@Bahamut: "Some guy" is me...



Corbs said:

Honestly, I didn't like the review and in many ways its no better than IGN's review. I don't think the game's great but it definitely didn't deserve the judgment it was given.

Wow! Completely and utterly shocking!
You don't know how close I came to changing your username to "Some Guy"



KnucklesSonic8 said:

Corbie, honestly, IGN's review wasn't very professional. I think it's very clear that IGN's Wii reviews are rushed and their review for this was no exception. Didn't surprise me at all that it was poorly-written.

And don't get me wrong, it's not that I didn't like it because of the score. If there were enough things for me to agree upon that would make me see that the final score was warranted then sure, I'll agree. But some parts in the review are just not very well-written. The whole aspect of comparing it to Mario Party is what I find particularly... annoying, for lack of a better term. But each one to his own....

That "Some Guy" joke would've been funny. I'm actually surprised Bahamut didn't remember it was me since he talks about me quite a bit.



Corbs said:

Hey Knuckles, you know I'm just messing with you. I love it that you chime in. If you didn't, what would we talk about?



KnucklesSonic8 said:

Well that is relieving. It's nice to know my presence is welcomed even when I feel I'm not. XD

On that note, guys, I've uncovered that this series is FAR from over. They've unveiled two new games and I can guarantee you they'll come here. One is a Card game that has online play and the other is... Tennis... Oh boy. Like they didn't get enough with TABLE Tennis, they had to do Tennis too. XD

I certainly hope ASW starts getting the messages, though, that their games are in need of some improvement in many aspects. At the very least, they are realizing that they can take advantage of online play to help rectify their games, sure, but why not focus more on the core mechanics a bit more? Sure 500 is hard to beat but that doesn't mean we should get bare minimum either. Who's with me?

I should also add that I've discovered that the game wasn't a direct localization from the JPN version. The maps have been slightly changed and the menu now has the Configuration button (just for Languages). For example, the first map (the Jungle stage) was only 10 turns in the JPN version and was essentially just a circle but the map we got is slightly bigger (looks more like an oval or at least a bigger circle) with 15 turns. Just some interesting details...

Also, could these be the hinted swimsuit costumes....? If so, once again, ESRB missed that.



City_Of_Delusion said:

Another Family game gets a universal kicking...

It makes me glad that they're stupidly slow in getting the PAL version released.




Good review.

I thought the score seemed a tad low judging by the content of the revw (5/10?), but either way its not for me obviously!



Philip_J_Reed said:

You guys should set up an interview with the Family Series game designers.

NINTENDOLIFE: Will you stop making these games?
NINTENDOLIFE: Please, please, please stop making these games.



Mainstreamguy said:

great review, but i noticed a little mistake
you said Mario Party has 1 vs. 4 mode but it has only 1 vs. 3 mode



kaes said:

@KnucklesSonic8: Thanks for the constructive criticism, I'm always very open to it. I assure you, I did go into the game with an open mind. As I said in the conclusion, I really don't take pleasure in watching games fail (particularly in such an isolated niche as WiiWare). I'd love for every game to succeed. But as I interpreted it, this game just wasn't worth the money. If someone is looking for a similar experience, their money would be better put towards a Monopoly board.

And I totally understand how it can get nauseating to hear a game repeatedly compared to another franchise over and over and over again. But seeing as the game was obviously inspired by Mario Party, it'd be an oversight to ignore it. Additionally, many people are familiar with Mario Party so it helps to have that as a reference point when describing how it's played.

But either way, thanks so much for your honesty. I look forward to reading more of your critiques in the future.

@Mainstreamguy: D'oh! Thanks for the heads-up.



KnucklesSonic8 said:

@kaes: It does me good to hear that you appreciate my... umm... "critiques". Lol. AFAIC, the game isn't so bad to label it as a failure.

I wanted to ask you (yes, this means you kaes), did you bother playing multiplayer and getting the DLC before writing the review?

Everyone's thoughts on the game will vary. kaes views it as a game that doesn't work well, I view it as decent yet fun, OMG Nintendo also labels it as good fun. Like I said before, each one to his own. It's not for everyone (like a lot of other games on the service) but the game is enjoyable with the right setting.

The bit about the Mario Party comparison, though. What I didn't like is that was compared to it SO much (though not as bad as IGN's review). The game should be considered for what it is. It's not meant to compete with Mario Party and given the fact that the game's focus is more on strategy, there are more differences between the two than one would gather upon first glance.

"If someone is looking for a similar experience, their money would be better put towards a Monopoly board." - Last time I checked Monopoly isn't available on the WiiWare service. There are other reasons why that's not really the greatest of comparisons....



SonicMaster said:

Hello! I'm new to the site, but I've been reading the reviews here since early this year. Good review. I DON'T plan to buy this ANYTIME soon.

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...