Indie developers seem to be doing a great job of delivering games with local multiplayer to the Wii U eShop as of late. From Chariot to GetClose: A Game for RIVALS, Sportsball to Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition, affordable — and quality — entertainment with the intention of livening up a living room is readily available. Enter Paparazzi, an asymmetric multiplayer game that pits the celebrity and a hounding photographer against one another. While it's definitely reasonably priced at launch, has this novel concept been developed into something as special as the aforementioned games, or has a case of underexposure caused it to be lacking in depth?
From an aerial view, one player moves a tiny celebrity throughout pixelated auto-scrolling environments, attempting to hide behind buildings and within crowds of people to avoid getting their photo taken. During that time, player two is in control of the camera lens that looms over the scene, using either the Wii Remote to aim and shoot or the GamePad to tap away wherever desired. It's a frantic game of cat-and-mouse, one that's equal parts tug-of-war as you fight for dominance of a status meter at the top of the screen; successful photos will cause the paparazzi to earn money, while the celebrity attempts to win by causing his pursuer to take photos that they're absent from. It's a neat idea that doesn't feel far off from something you'd find incorporated into a mini-game collection like Mario Party 10; yet that's also the problem.
While Paparazzi has an abundance of style and goofiness – from its off-the-wall celebrity types to its Where's Waldo-esque scenes – it simply doesn't offer much variety or lasting appeal. Whether you're playing single player or two player, it's the same six levels, the same seven characters, and no sense of progression. Then when you finish a match, you have the option to replay or choose a different level. That's it. There's no ultimate goal and no presence of unlockables, just a neat concept that's fairly well executed but lacking in any incentive to keep you playing for long. In fact, after an initial run through of all the available levels the novelty wore off, and we were left longing for another layer of depth to keep us playing. Sadly, it's not there.
There are also some design decisions that we feel keep the gameplay from being all that it could be. The first is that the celebrities move with a looseness that makes it hard to precisely hide them behind a structure without it taking a couple of tries. This is further complicated by just how small the character appears on screen. It's not uncommon to completely lose track of their location due to their almost microscopic size, other distractions, and the intruding outline of the camera lens. These issues don't ruin the experience, but they do significantly detract from it. We should give credit where credit is due, however, and say that we were charmed by the playful presentation and silly characters and locations. As we mentioned previously, there's certainly no shortage of personality here; though it's a shame that we weren't interested in spending more time getting to appreciate it.
Paparazzi is a way from being a bad game, to be clear. It's just very shallow and, ultimately, in an indie scene that's gaining more and more local multiplayer games by the week, it's tough to recommend taking a chance on. If you're someone that regularly has friends over for an accessible and laugh-filled night of social gaming, then you might be able to squeeze some value from this. While we believe two people would grow bored of playing together very quickly, passing the controllers around the room and laughing at each other's efforts is likely the ideal environment for this game. But even then we wouldn't expect it to be in rotation for all that long. If you're thinking of playing this one alone, well, don't. Playing against the AI removes any of the fun typically associated with a party game like this, and it feels quite inorganic.
While Paparazzi has the personality and gameplay that should add up to an explosive time, a lack of variety and depth keep it from being the hit that it easily could've been. If you want nothing more than a night or two's worth of laughs with friends, then maybe you'd be satisfied with a purchase. Otherwise, we suggest getting a restraining order against Paparazzi to keep it away from your wallet. By no means is it a poor game, it's just shallow to the point where even a unique and compelling concept such as this, one that utilizes both the Wii Remote and GamePad, becomes dull rather quickly.