Mini-game collections are becoming a dime-a-dozen on the Wii console as of late, and with Halloween coming up, it comes as no surprise to see an aptly-themed release that's packed to the gills with yet another round of fairly standard mini-game fare. But at a lofty 1000 Wii Points, is this haunted board game release good enough to scare up some good times?
While Ghost Mansion Party is basically a mini-game collection, the game does offer up an Adventure Mode that packages them all together in more of a board game-style atmosphere. In this game, you and up to three other players all hop into your magic Jack-O-Lantern car and proceed along a board game path through a haunted mansion. Other players can even jump into the game later on by merely activating their Wii Remote. Your goal in the Adventure Mode is to ultimately guess the password on the lock of the treasure chest, but of course you'll need a few hints if you're going to have any chance at guessing the password correctly and to do that you're going to have to earn some money.
To kick things off, you'll first click on the Crystal Ball that acts as a die. Whatever number you draw on the Crystal Ball is the number of cells you're allowed to move on the game board; each cell has varying actions ranging from picking up or losing coins, to undertaking one of the game's ten Mini-Game or four On-Board Challenges. These range from shooting targets using your Wii Pointer to pumping up balloons using your Wii Remote as an imaginary air pump. There are even challenges that allow you to use the Wii Remote as a traditional game controller where you can run around gathering up coins and trying to knock your opponents down. These mini-games and challenges are your chance to earn more coins that you can ultimately use to purchase hint scrolls, providing clues to the all-important password. You'll even be able to get your Jack-O-Lantern car repaired along the way on certain cells if you're able to land on them. Once you've correctly guessed the treasure chest password you'll win the treasure and get one last chance to make a mad dash through an obstacle course in an attempt to pick up even more coins.
If you get tired of the Adventure Mode, you can always choose to play the Mini-Games for fun instead. Of course some of the mini-games are locked at the beginning of the game and must be unlocked in Adventure Mode. You can still compete with up to three other players and these mini-games play exactly the same way they do in the Adventure Mode. You'll find this mode particularly useful for only playing the mini-games you enjoy instead of having to deal with a random selection of them in the Adventure Mode.
The play control in the game can be good at times and very sloppy at others. Most of the shooting mini-games are fairly accurate and easy to control, but some of the others tend to feel erratic and many times it ends up feeling like more of a matter of luck than any kind of actual gaming skill when you win. There will even be certain situations where the game's AI can be a bit cheap and can make winning some of the challenges a bit tricky. The basic rules of the game will make it appealing to very young children, but gamers looking for a little more variety and responsive play control will likely find the game's control system way too inconsistent to be of much enjoyment.
Visually, Ghost Mansion Party is fairly good for a WiiWare release. Sure there are some sections of the game that are better than others, but overall the developers have done a nice job of bringing the haunted mansion theme to life onscreen. It might have been nice to see more lighting effects and a few more smooth edges, but all in all the game looks pretty solid for a downloadable title.
Much like the visuals, the audio presentation in the game is actually well done. There are plenty of spooky musical tracks and haunted sound effects to keep things interesting. And if for some reason you're not a fan of the music, you can even go into the options menu and adjust its volume. There might not be a lot of variety in the various musical tracks, but what's available is more than adequate for a game of this nature.
On the exterior Ghost Mansion Party seems like a good idea: the spooky theme of the game makes it enticing to those who love to get into the holiday spirit and a party game atmosphere easily lends itself to the task, but choosing to use many of the same mini-game ideas that have already been done many times over on the Wii console ends up making the game feel stale and unimaginative. Ghost Party Mansion's sloppy play control and recycled mini-game ideas end up making the title feel more tedious than fun and ultimately overshadow the game's well-executed haunted house theme.