Party games feel right at home on the Switch, don’t they? With the recent launch of games like Mario Party Superstars and Fisti-Fluffs, it feels like there’s always something new to play within the multiplayer genre. Tossing its hat into the ring, My Singing Monsters Playground shares much of the same DNA as Nintendo’s own Mario Party series, with a plethora of minigames to enjoy with friends and family. It does, however, feel like a bit of a bare-bones experience, lacking an overarching campaign or structure to bind the minigames together.

Based on a hugely successful mobile franchise, My Singing Monsters Playground features a cast of, well… monsters. Not the kind of monsters that haunt your dreams or hide under the bed, but rather more cute and cuddly monsters that look like they’re on their way to a shindig with Mike Wazowski. Each time you boot up the game, you’re presented with options to select how many players are competing (up to four), before giving a choice of seven different monster designs. Our personal favourite is Furcorn, who looks like a furry bean with legs and a twig sticking out of its head.

You’re dropped into a small hub world with your other competitors where you can choose one of three different modes: Solo Gauntlet, Tournament, and Free Play. The Solo Gauntlet effectively requires you to come first in a selection of linear minigames, with the game ending if you fail at any point. It’s a nice mode for those after a single-player experience, with impressive competitor AI making for a reasonably fun time.

Tournament and Free Play make up the multiplayer offering of the game, although you can also play these solo, too. Tournament gives you the option to set the number of matches — including 10, 15, and 20 — with each player taking turns choosing a minigame from a choice of three. Winning a match earns you diamonds, with the person coming in first place earning 3, second place gets 2, and so on. Accumulating diamonds across the matches ultimately determines who the champion is.

Free Play is exactly what it sounds like. It simply gives you free choice of which minigame to play, so you can pick out exactly which ones you enjoy most, and avoid some of the more sub-par options. Keep in mind, however, that you need to have played each minigame at least once in either Solo Gauntlet or Tournament modes for them to be selectable in Free Play mode.

As for the minigames themselves, there are 25 in total; a decent selection with a surprising amount of variety. The games are split into three categories: free-for-all, 2 v 2, and 1 v 3. Free-for-all naturally has the most potential to descend into total chaos, and there’s a real ‘Takeshi’s Castle’ vibe with some of the choices. One of our favourites happens to be one of the most simplistic by design: a small, circular arena in which a hot pipe spins around its circumference, like a clock face. Your goal is to simply avoid the pipe, jumping over it as it hurtles towards you. The pipe can stop and change direction at any time, so keeping an eye on this is key to victory.

Other stand out minigames include Thumpede, which is a simple obstacle course filled with slime and boulders, and Molten Madness, which requires you to avoid balls of molten lava, using a front-facing metallic shield to hit them in the direction of your opponents. The lesser minigames aren’t necessarily poorly designed, but generally feel a bit more formulaic and — dare we say — a bit boring compared to their more accomplished counterparts. Examples include Monster Rally, which is a bog standard kart racing game with a bird’s-eye view, and Snow Brawl, which is essentially a game of dodgeball, but requires absurd levels of accuracy to succeed.

Overall, however, out of the 25 games available, there are more that are worth your time than not. What’s disappointing, though, is there’s nothing outside the minigames to bind the whole experience together; no board games or overarching campaign of any kind. This is fine if you’re after a few short multiplayer sessions here and there, but once you’ve gone through the selection a few times, it feels like you’ve already maxed out the game’s longevity potential.

In terms of visuals and performance, the game has a nice child-friendly aesthetic. As we alluded to earlier, it would fit nicely in a certain Pixar animated movie, and each of the monster designs have their own quirky traits. Frame rate is a bit hit and miss; it sticks at a solid pace for the most part, but you’ll definitely notice some dips in quality with some of the more chaotic games. Furthermore, considering the hub world is merely a jumping off point for the game’s three modes, we’d expect the frame rate to be a bit smoother here.

Conclusion

If you enjoy party games but aren’t too keen on the board game mechanic seen in titles like Mario Party Superstars, then My Singing Monsters Playground offers up a more streamlined experience that focuses purely on the minigames themselves, which might prove perfect for families with younger gamers. If you’re looking for a meatier experience, however, the lack of any overarching campaign harms the game’s overall longevity. Frame rate struggles in some of the more chaotic minigames, but for the most part, developer Big Blue Bubble has cooked up a nice addition to the party genre here.