Review: Cruise Party (WiiWare)

Party pooper

Enjoy Gaming’s Cruise Party is a collection of four gambling games: video poker, blackjack, roulette and slots.

In Video Poker, each player’s five-card hand is visible to all, with the exception of the Bank’s hand, of which you are only privy to one card. Your one and only goal is to wager whether your hand will be better than the Bank’s. The game is nice enough to tell you what your hand has, from nothing to a Royal Flush, so you don’t even need to know poker rules: all you need to do is hit play or fold and see what happens. Without any skill involved, Video Poker is a lame duck.

Blackjack is, well, blackjack for four players. It’s tough to really mess that one up; same with the Roulette wheel, making these the two best games on offer here. In fact, if you’ve got cash to burn and a massive love of Roulette, Cruise Party isn’t that bad a pick. It can be kind of exciting to plunk down your chips on the board as the wheel begins to spin, which is implemented quite nicely thanks to the Wii Remote’s pointer functionality.

Slots are made more complicated than they should be. A grey arrow constantly runs down the available lines that can be bet on, and so all you do is pick one. When a player has picked a line, the arrow skips over that one and continues to shuffle through the remaining ones. It’s very distracting and can’t be toggled off. In case you want to relax and play alone for a while, sorry, no can do either: in one-player the computer will fill up the remaining spots, so you always, always have to compete for whatever line you want to pick. You can’t just sit back and play a traditionally one-person game without the computer opponents butting in.

The intrusive AI isn’t an issue when you have four human players, but then another issue comes sprinting off the poop deck: each game can only be played six rounds at a time, after which a winner is declared and your pot is reset. Again, no problem for the gauntlet Competition mode where you play everything in a row and declare a victor by the end, but Quickplay, the supposed haven for structureless goofing around, also has this arbitrary limit. If you and your friends want to play one of these games and declare winner through elimination, you just can’t. Unless you are all terrible and knock each other (or yourselves) out within six rounds, that is.

At least the developers spent some time on the presentation. The music is fun in a cheesy lounge sort of way (we mean that in the best way possible), and the graphics are decent for a gambling compilation. It doesn’t really rise above a higher-end N64 game but it’s colourful and pleasant, and it’s nice to see someone at least try to pull off a convincing environment instead of just a menu.

Conclusion

The nice coat of paint doesn’t make up for the fact that this collection of underwhelming games isn't that fun and feels way overpriced at 800 Points. If you absolutely need a gambling title downloaded onto your Wii then go for the Virtual Console's superior Vegas Stakes; it has pretty much the same line-up for the same price.