(Wii U)

Wii Party U (Wii U)

Game Review

Wii Party U Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Martin Watts

Don't be tardy for this party

It's no secret that Nintendo has struggled with getting the word out about the Wii U. Unclear branding and messaging — not to mention a lack of consumer awareness and hard-hitting software in the first half of 2013 — have resulted in a lot of confusion and missed opportunities. More importantly, the company itself has even admitted that it hasn't had the games it needs to help set the system apart from the competition. It desperately needs something to clearly and effectively explain to the masses just what the Wii U is, even if it is painfully obvious to those of us who've played it.

This is where Wii Party U comes in. It's true that the party game genre has been dragged through the mud in recent years, no doubt thanks to the unending deluge of low-quality, waggle-fest mini-game compilations which spilled on to Wii during its prime. However, party games have always been much more versatile than traditional games when it comes to making the most of a system's hardware features; disjointed and individual mini-games mean that the developer isn't limited by other factors such as narrative and can focus on lots of unique ideas that don't necessarily have to make sense in the context of the game's world and setting. In this regard, Wii Party U is a veritable showcase of the Wii U difference. Nintendo has taken the system's unique features and worked them into a range of simple, easy-to-understand and — most importantly — entertaining mini-games and activities. It's not perfect, but if there's one game that the company should be waving in front of the casual audience right now, it's this.

What sets Wii Party U apart from most mini-game compilations is that it offers an incredible variety of activities to enjoy. Not only that, but it also goes beyond the mere waggling that was far too commonplace in budget Wii titles. In this sense, it's very much like Nintendo Land, except for the fact that its mini-games tend to be simpler and there are far more of them. In fact, it's quite astonishing just how much content there is and the game does a fantastic job of catering for a number of different situations and moods.

The game provides three main categories to choose from: TV Party, House Party and GamePad Party, and players can choose from a number of activities and mini-games within each one. Everything is delightfully presented using those ever-popular Miis, and while the visuals aren't especially detailed, the game does exude a lot of charm. Your Mii expresses a whole range of emotions during play and even dresses up in some rather adorable costumes along the way. Most importantly, the menus are extremely clear, adopting a similar layout and structure to Mario Party 9 — in fact, some menus look near enough identical. Instructions are always clearly conveyed, with the game frequently providing demonstrations for added clarity.

The TV Party mode is the core of the game and provides a traditional party game experience similar to the Mario Party series, in which players compete in board games and mini-games. The key difference here though is that Wii Party U offers a lot more variety when it comes to its board games. For example, in Highway Rollers it's a race to the finish where high dice rolls are the key to success. Mini-games feature heavily in this mode, essentially determining how many dice players get to roll per turn. However, it's almost the complete opposite in Mii Fashion Plaza. In this mode you spend each trip around the board trying to collect pieces to complete a costume, which you then show off at the end of your circuit. Here, Mini-games take a back seat to the action, with the emphasis being placed instead on strategic choices and dice rolls. The variations between boards helps to keep things feeling fresher for longer, and adds a surprising amount of depth. Single players are also covered, with most of TV Party modes allowing you to go it alone against CPU players, although the AI is perhaps a little too simple.

It's within TV Party that you'll find most of the standard mini-games, the majority of which tend to use just the Wii Remote. There's a good range on offer here, although nothing revolutionary by any means. Shooting down UFOs, riding animals to the finish line and whacking each other with mallets has all been done before, but it's still good, silly fun. Experienced gamers may, however, be put off by how simplistic some of the mini-games are; quite a few of them amount to little more than button-bashing and are over in less than ten seconds. It's very clear that this game has been designed with everyone — even your Grandma — in mind.

Sadly though, Nintendo has gone a tad overboard in ensuring that everyone feels included by rubber-banding the experience and removing the need for geniune skill. Some of the mini-games are entirely chance-based and amount to little more than pressing a button and praying to the Gods that you're not struck down to last place. This deliberate balancing act ruins what could have been some great mini-games. For example, in Run for the Sun, your Mii dons a Superman-esque suit and flies through space, dodging incoming meteors. However, instead of the game letting you swerve out of the way at the last minute or barge an opponent into a nice chunk of rock, what you actually do is just select a flight path and find out a few seconds later if you got hit or not. It's something of a pointless exercise, and a victory feels quite shallow if you just win through chance. Thankfully, you can rate mini-games using the power of the internet, and warn other players which games are truly duds.

While TV Party serves up the bulk of the Wii Party U experience, it's the House Party mode that makes the most of the Wii U GamePad's unique features, and there are many superb examples within this category. In Lost-and-Found Square — a particular favourite of ours — up to three players must search a busy area filled with look-alikes of another player who is "lost". The separated player uses the GamePad to look at their surroundings and describe what they see to the other players in the hope that it will help them be found. Other mini-games borrow ideas from elsewhere; Button Battle is essentially a finger-based version of Twister and Sketchy Situation is a drawing game that feels reminiscent of Pictionary. If there's one thing that the House Party games truly succeed at, it's providing experiences that simply can't be done on other systems. It's novel, but never gimmicky, and we only wish that there was a bigger selection of games on offer.

And incredibly, there's even more content to be found in Wii Party U than what we've already covered. The third major feature in the game's already impressive line-up is the GamePad Party mode, which if you hadn't guessed, revolves exclusively around the GamePad controller. The mini-game ideas found in this mode hark back to the concepts that Nintendo showed off when it first unveiled the Wii U at E3 2011. In these two-player games, each competitor takes one side of the controller and primarily use their respective joystick or shoulder button to control the on-screen action.

These are fun little side attractions that certainly make the most of the features on offer. Nevertheless, they're quite basic; in Tabletop Football, the joystick moves all of your players at the same time (because it's the only way you can play), which makes sense, but naturally this means it lacks a great deal of control compared to the real experience. Otherwise, the selection on offer here is quite slim, and we can't help but think that the lack of a multi-touch screen had a limiting effect in this regard. Nevertheless, it's odd that the buttons and D-Pad weren't also consider for use; the symmetrical layout, for example, could have provided some entertaining top-down or side-scrolling platforming mini-games.

Conclusion

Stuffed to the brim with content, Wii Party U is a shining example of the Wii U difference. Many of the mini-games on offer really push the unique features of the system to create novel yet highly entertaining experiences that can't be found elsewhere. While the TV Party mode mostly contains traditional mini-game examples that tend to place the emphasis on the Wii Remote rather than the Wii U GamePad, the choice on offer is staggering.

It's not perfect, however; some of the mini-games rely a little too much on chance and the rather limited GamePad Party mode detracts from the experience somewhat. These minor points aside, Wii Party U is an impressive and innovative showcase of what the Wii U can do, and serves as one of the most effective demonstrations of the console's unique hardware that we've seen so far.

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User Comments (80)

Guitardude7

#1

Guitardude7 said:

Hm that's pretty good for a Party game! I might actually consider getting this for my family!

ikki5

#2

ikki5 said:

sweet. This is a game on my list. Great review, looking forward to this even more now :D

Salnax

#3

Salnax said:

So, in short, this is what NintendoLand should have been?

Sounds promising.

Morph

#5

Morph said:

Could be a good crimbo purchase, looking at this and wii sports club to keep the family entertained this year

rjejr

#7

rjejr said:

Some of the minigames look like fun, but between Sports Club, Nintendo Land, and Wii Fit U I think we'll have enough minigames to play. And when we want to get serious there's SM3DW for 4 player and Skylanders for 2 player.

Glad it's out though, the Wii U needs games, and glad it's good for those who want it.

And I think it should be pointed out that this is a $50 game, BUT (in the US) it comes w/ a $40 Wiimote Plus and a stand. We already have 4 (possibly 5) Wiimote Pluses but if we needed another 1 I would pick this up, the game is $10.

Come to think of it I got a Wiimote Plus in Wii Party, and another in Flingsmash when TRU has a B1G1 free sale. It was about $50 for 2 Wiimote Plus and 2 games.

GrimSh

#11

GrimSh said:

Seems interesting enough, but since I already have NintendoLand as well as Game & Wario in my possession, I'll perhaps read some more reviews before finalizing my decision on whether to purchase this or not.

Turnip

#12

Turnip said:

This looks interesting. If I ever get a Wii U, I'll definitely consider buying or renting this.

Discostew

#14

Discostew said:

I pre-ordered mine from Newegg when they had both a $10 discount and a $5 promo, making my order $35. Even if the game itself ends up being less than average, I still got a deal because of the Wiimote Plus.

Sausimo

#15

Sausimo said:

I loved the original Wii Party (its better than MP8 IMO, never played MP9 though), so I'm glad to hear the quality has been retained in the sequel.

NintyMan

#16

NintyMan said:

Originally I wasn't that interested in this game, but now it does look and sound like fun and so I'll consider it. The simple fact that it sounds better than Wii Party, which I have and enjoy, would be good enough for consideration. $50 is a good price too, and great on top of an extra Wii remote plus.

No one likes minigames that involve luck (at least that I know of), but Mario Party is guilty of having them too. As long as the minigame collection is great as a whole, that's what matters.

jon_simmons

#17

jon_simmons said:

Might pick it up used some day. I'm wary of mini game comps after Nintendoland bored me so.
Hopefully after this comes out Nintendo will stop with mini game comps.

bezerker99

#20

bezerker99 said:

And....I will have to pass on this. I didn't buy a Wii U for these types of games. Come to think of it, I'm not sure why I bought a Wii U in the first place.

sinalefa

#21

sinalefa said:

I wanted to get this one because of the wiimote, but when they announced those Mario and Luigi Wiimotes, then my interest in this faded away.

Still hoping that this one helps to move Wii U units.

SCAR392

#22

SCAR392 said:

I think thought this game looked cool when they first showed it off. It's Mario Party with Miis instead.

Hopefully it's $20 if you don't buy the Wii remote+ bundle...

Dreamcaster-X

#23

Dreamcaster-X said:

The part about Nintendo rubberbanding some of the mini games & making it come down to luck tells me all I need to know. I'll skip this one.

Nintenjoe64

#25

Nintenjoe64 said:

Quite happy this hasn't turned out to be a complete dud. Might get it because one of my Wiimotes is dead.

eza

#29

eza said:

The review reads like it's an incredibly average game.
The lack of skill-based minigames sounds particularly bad.
Pressing a button and praying to the god of RNGs that I win doesn't really appeal to me.
And rubber-banding just makes everyone feel cheap.
These sound like serious gameplay issues to me rather than minor annoyances.

Still, if at least some of the minigames are good, then it might be worth picking this up on the cheap, for those times where no-one's feeling energetic enough to play Just Dance :-) Until then, Nintendoland has fun skill-based minigames.

Ah. I just checked the price. It looks like it's worth getting if you want another Wiimote. Right now on Amazon UK a Wii U Remote Plus is £38 but Wii Party U with a Wii U Remote Plus is £35!
That means in a few weeks the second-hand shelves will be filled with copies of Wii Party U for just a few pounds/euros/dollars...

Jonny

#30

Jonny said:

Do you need a motionplus to play all of the games? I only have 2.....

TruenoGT

#32

TruenoGT said:

Anyone know what the eShop price will be? Obviously, it wouldn't include the remote and stand, so hopefully $20 or less.

SchamMan89

#33

SchamMan89 said:

Yeah, if this is around $20 on the eShop, I'll get it there. Otherwise, I might pass on this one. Not sure I need another controller...

mercurio2054

#34

mercurio2054 said:

@eza Remember that you're in a multiplayer game, so is not only like "Pressing a button and praying to the god of RNG" the other player can press better than you.

DerpSandwich

#35

DerpSandwich said:

It looks pretty fun, though I'm really off put by the luck-based games. That's literally not fun at all.

Gerbwmu

#37

Gerbwmu said:

Part of the fun of games like this is the randomness to some effect. You want everyone to have a chance at winning....otherwise it's only fun for the player with skill. These games should have a fair amount of luck to them. I can't wait to get this from Newegg and break it out at the next family get together.

SteveSnowmn

#38

SteveSnowmn said:

I have this + wiimote preordered on Amazon for $39.99. Sounds like a great deal. I'm curious though, can you play TV party completely without the GamePad or do some minigames require it? I really hate sharing my pad since we can't buy extras yet :P

muchB1663R

#39

muchB1663R said:

wait a minute. joystiq gave it a 2 star review!! who do i believe!!! i hope they have a demo of this.

LeVideoGamer

#40

LeVideoGamer said:

It's not terrible? Wow.

I'll still probably buy two copies for the Wii Remote Plus', then trade in the games after a while.

InternetFurret

#41

InternetFurret said:

nintendo should have released this game with the wiiu last year instead of nintendo land...i will get this for sure.

cyrus_zuo

#43

cyrus_zuo said:

LOVED the first one, which was just stuffed w/content.
I pre-ordered this, but w/it coming w/a controller I've feared this one wasn't as rich. Reading the review, I'm convinced I was right.
While the review talks about tons of content, the number of modes listed and the depth of them are clearly less than was found in the original Wii Party. I'm wishing they'd kept and up-rezed the original and put it in this to give me an HD version of the old (still fantastic game).
Still excited for this, but I'm now more worried that it's short on modes (something the original Wii Party did WAY better than the Mario Party series).

JaxonH

#44

JaxonH said:

@Salnax
Speak for yourself, Nintendoland was pure dope! This will never live up to Nintendoland, particularly the Zelda, the Metroid Blast, and the Pikmin, and even the Donkey Kong game for that matter. I STILL haven't beaten Ganondorf in the Zelda, even with my brother helping me in co-op. That's core difficulty right there.

SuperChutney

#45

SuperChutney said:

I'm curious as to how this one stands up as a comparison to the original Wii Party. The trailer looked very stylish, but this review killed my enthusiasm somewhat.

AirElephant

#46

AirElephant said:

Sounds a lot like Nintendo continues to struggle to justify the cost of including the GamePad in the system. In fact, it sounds like the majority of the game could have been played on the old Wii, albeit with non-HD graphics. Again and again I feel like Nintendo made a stunningly bad decision to create a system designed around a single GamePad. In fact, it sounds like absolutely none of the games that us the GamePad couldn't have been done using a similar solution to the second screen experiences offered on XBOX and PS3.

StephenYap3

#47

StephenYap3 said:

I was going to switch my Sonic Lost World preorder to this game since I love party games (well, only the ones published by Nintendo), but I'm going to keep my preorder instead. This one I'll be sure to get this year before 2014, if not this month or the next.

sillygostly

#48

sillygostly said:

Ugh. I'm so disappointed with Nintendo for neglecting to accommodate 5 players in their multiplayer modes for Wii U games. Mario/Luigi U should have had a fifth character instead of the unengaging "boost mode". And how much cooler would Super Mario 3D World have been if they added a fifth character to the cast? (Wario perhaps?)

A real missed opportunity. The thing that I was most anticipating about the Wii U was the ability to accommodate additional players in local multiplayer. Unfortunately, this hasn't been the case.

Worse still, the decision to restrict the amount of additional players in Game & Wario is even more baffling considering that there is only 1 controller shared between everyone, and Intelligent Systems should have given players the option to have as many players as they bloody well please (hell, WarioWare: Smooth Moves had local multiplayer modes that supported up to 5 or 12 players).

sillygostly

#49

sillygostly said:

Having said that, I still wish to get Wii Party U, but my interest in it has waned a tad due to it only accommodating 4 players.

Fudgewhizzle

#50

Fudgewhizzle said:

I'm definitely getting this, especially because you get a wii mote with the pack. It's pretty much a no-brainer! :)

eza

#53

eza said:

@mercurio2054 hmmm I'm not convinced. The main parts of the review that stuck out for me were:
"Sadly though, Nintendo has gone a tad overboard in ensuring that everyone feels included by rubber-banding the experience and removing the need for geniune skill. Some of the mini-games are entirely chance-based and amount to little more than pressing a button and praying to the Gods that you're not struck down to last place. This deliberate balancing act ruins what could have been some great mini-games.",
"It's something of a pointless exercise, and a victory feels quite shallow if you just win through chance.",
and regarding the gamepad mode "Nevertheless, it's odd that the buttons and D-Pad weren't also consider for use; the symmetrical layout, for example, could have provided some entertaining top-down or side-scrolling platforming mini-games."

It sounds to me like Nintendo haven't quite hit the mark with this one. Different difficulty levels to control the rubber-banding effect might have been nice. More two player games using the gamepad (and more of its buttons) would have been great.

But then again, this game's probably not really aimed at me is it? I can see how it would be a lot of fun to play with friends who don't play games.
It's also good to see the return of the Find Mii game - one of the best games on Wii Party (which was also a good way to get a second controller at the time).
The fact that games can be rated by the internet hive mind so you can avoid the worst ones is a nice touch too.

I don't need another wiimote, but I might get this when it's cheap.

Slapshot

#54

Slapshot said:

This title releasing in itself shows the misguided direction of Nintendo's marketing strategies for the Wii U.

Subie98

#55

Subie98 said:

I prefer mario party games. Not sure this would be as fun, just my opinion.

MAB

#56

MAB said:

Not buying another Nintendo 1st party game until Smash Bro is out... I will just throw my cash at anything 3rd party up to that point ;)

PixelPerfect

#57

PixelPerfect said:

I'm so glad this wasn't a bust. Occasionally, I would have some non-gamer friends over and games like the New Super Mario Bros Wii U requires too much skill for them to handle. Something like this is a lot more accessible for everyone to enjoy.

mch

#59

mch said:

Sounds good to me. Remember in the right party mood around the Tv/Gamepad/Wii U even silly games where one wins by chance CAN be fun!! :-)

WaveBoy

#62

WaveBoy said:

Looking forward to this, i love it when nintendo gets experimental with their brand new spankin controllers, Need to also check out Wii Party for the Wii!

Mallard

#64

Mallard said:

Remember at E3 2012, when Nintendo said they wanted to get the core gamers back ..... not with this type of shovel ware! I love my wii u, but games like this leave me cold. I really want a new metroid, a new star wing, a HD F zero and a new urban champ!

SphericalCrusher

#67

SphericalCrusher said:

This game looks really fun. I still need to get the new Wario game. Maybe Black Friday will have a sale and I can grab both of these, although too early for WiiU Party perhaps. I'm stoked for the new Mario Party, whenever that will hit.

Doma

#69

Doma said:

Maybe they should have released the Gamepad as an add-on... because i see literally nothing here that wouldn't be possible on Wii. “Showcase of what the Wii U has to offer” LOL

Konata

#70

Konata said:

Most of my family members aren't really into most videogames, but they all enjoyed the last wii party and that's the only way I could get them to play on the wii with me.
I'm sold on this one.

WhereEaglesDare

#71

WhereEaglesDare said:

Most of this audience moved onto tablets and cheap (and terrible) freemium in the past few years. There's a reason Nintendo's barely bothering with that audience on console now. I doubt this moves tons of units. Great, colourful, child-friendly, HD "Nintendocore" games are the Wii U difference.

KJ85

#72

KJ85 said:

I found the following text on the US website for the game:

"To experience everything in Wii Party U, you'll need additional Wii Remote™ Plus controllers."

Can anyone confirm, that it actually has to be the Plus-controllers?

ultrakatie64

#74

ultrakatie64 said:

There's a lot of great minigames, a lot of great board games, and the real stand out is the gamepad games. But, the games where it is just based purely on chance are infuriating and drag the game down. Also the AI is bonehead stupid unless you crank it up to the max. I still enjoyed what there was to enjoy, because that really made for a great experience.

Mahe

#75

Mahe said:

Doesn't seem to be as good as the original Wii Party, but there's still lots of good stuff in this one, too.

@KJ85 From my testing, regular controllers will do as well.

JarredBuzzo

#76

JarredBuzzo said:

I'm going to be honest, this review actually took me off the fence and I bought it for my upcoming birthday party, which will be filled with drinking and other such shenanigans. It helps that I needed that one last Wii Remote Plus and this game included one, so I reasoned that paying $10 for a new game was worth it.

bmprsvz777

#77

bmprsvz777 said:

I bought this game in Cora just because I wanted controller for Wii (which alone costs 49 euro) and this game with controller was just 39...

Darknyht

#78

Darknyht said:

This game is like Wii Play for me. It is a $39.99 controller packed with a $10 game disc. Makes it much more agreeable for me.

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