The party game is a seriously underrated genre. Unfairly written off as overly simplistic or even shovelware by some gamers, party games can, in fact, be immensely enjoyable for casual players and hardcore gamers alike. After all, I’ve 100% completed numerous Zelda and Resident Evil games, and party games still represent some of my all-time favourite moments with a controller.
My absolute favourite party game of all time is Wii Party. The 2010 classic was fun for all the family in video game form, fuelling many a frantic and shouty gaming session (sorry, neighbours) in my living room. Wii Party was simple enough that everyone from my youngest sibling to my oldest grandparent could understand it, and deep enough that, once we all got super-skilled, we could employ strategy to really try and make fools of one another.
Let’s Get This Party Started
Taking inspiration from the Mario Party franchise, Wii Party featured nine modes which made use of the title’s 80 minigames. Board Game Island was perhaps most similar to Mario Party’s core gameplay, with players rolling dice to get around a board, bolstered by how well they did in minigames. And what a brilliant selection of minigames Wii Party had; several standout games belonged to the All Play category, a series of four-player games with a time limit.
In Zombie Tag players were locked in a graveyard with three hungry cartoon zombies. Gravestones acted as obstacles and the objective was to either survive the night, or, if you were unlucky enough to be bitten, take down the remaining survivors as an undead version of your Mii. It was so good because, if you turned into a zombie, you could hunt down your closest rival to ensure that they didn’t win the minigame either!
Derby Dash was also fantastic. The fast-paced minigame was a horse race with the objective being to carefully manage your steed’s stamina to ensure that you crossed the line first. Rush away from the starting line for an early lead, and you’d soon find yourself trailing behind everyone else with no way to catch up – you had to play it smart!
However, one of the best things about Wii Party was the multiple variants of the minigames themselves. Spot The Sneak (known as Rule Reversal in some territories) was a mode that shook things up by offering one player a secret advantage in each minigame. The aim was for other players to discover The Sneak and earn extra points, and for The Sneak to get away with cheating. Every minigame offered The Sneak an advantage in a different way, for example via the Wii remote rumbling as a secret clue. The hardest part of Spot The Sneak was pretending you weren’t The Sneak when you really were, even accusing other players when you knew full well you were the culprit!
Fight For Your Right To Party
Duking it out for minigame supremacy was even more enjoyable because Wii Party made great use of Miis. Miis are often created to resemble the real people you’re playing with, which made beating a cartoon likeness of your rival much more rewarding than facing off against, say, the pre-established characters in the Mario Party franchise. I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I drew a huge amount of pleasure from laughing at my siblings’ beaten Miis’ distraught expressions when I defeated them. Actually, I’m not ashamed at all, it was brilliant.
There were so many other great ideas designed to cause chaos in Wii Party as well. Pair Games split players into duos and pitted partnerships against one another. My favourite Pair Game was easily Friend Connection. Friend Connection made players answer a series of questions to see which pair knew each other best; what does your partner like more, unicorns or rainbows? Would they rather dive in head first or feet first? Seems simple enough but it’s all too easy to overthink these things, especially under a time limit!
Ain’t No Party Like a Wii U Party
After selling over 9 million copies, Wii Party earned a sequel in the form of Wii Party U on the Wii U. Of course, to show off the console’s hardware, new modes and minigames were incorporated to make use of the GamePad. Most notably, GamePad Island was a reimagining of Board Game Island from Wii Party and, in a similar fashion, it tasked players with beating their friends while using the GamePad as a controller. In fact, the GamePad came in handy for a lot of new minigames. A standout was Lost-and-Found Square, in which three players searched for a lost 4th player in a busy street, and the 4th player used the GamePad to guide the other players towards them.
Wii Party U also boasted an entirely new selection of party games called Tabletop Games. These games were played solely on the GamePad and offered an option for players who wanted a break from the TV. Tabletop minigames ranged from Bot-Building, where you and a rival had to race against time to build at least six robots, to Winged Pursuit, a game that used the touchscreen functionality of the GamePad to test players’ reaction times and coordination.
Sadly, Wii Party U was met with a lukewarm reception. Critics argued that, unlike the first game, a large number of minigames were no longer decided by player skill, but simply by luck. However, despite the lacklustre reviews, Wii Party U still shifted over 1.5 million units. That’s much less than the original Wii Party, yes, but relative to the Wii U’s meagre install base of 13.5 million, I’d say that’s still a pretty decent attach rate.
With the release of the Nintendo Switch, the expectation may have been that fans would get a new ‘Switch Party’ game. Launch title 1-2 Switch arguably filled that niche, but the game is largely considered something of a disappointment. It’s now been over three years since the Switch launched and, so far, there has been no sign of a true Wii Party successor, though Super Mario Party did release in 2018 to positive reviews. However, I think Wii Party is a lot better than even the very best Mario Party game because it offers so many different modes and a faster, more immersive experience. I love Super Mario Party, but I want a Switch Party as well, Nintendo!
But how likely is this to happen? Well, Nintendo recently revived Clubhouse Games and that’s given me hope. Clubhouse Games originally released on the Nintendo DS in 2005, but now it’s back as Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics for Switch. Could fans dare to dream that Wii Party is in line for a return as well? After all, 51 Worldwide Classics features Bowling and Tanks – minigames made famous by Wii Sports and Wii Play respectively. Is that a sign that Wii Party is going to make a comeback too? I say it’s time to get this party re-started!
Would you like to see Wii Party get a revival on Switch? Or do you think existing Switch games scratch that itch already? Let us know with a comment.