If there’s one unique selling point that the Wii U truly has over other systems, it’s the potential that it has for local multiplayer. Up until now, asymmetric multiplayer has been a pretty big deal to Nintendo, with the GamePad being the key to unlocking these new kinds of gameplay experiences. Thankfully, Nintendo isn’t the only developer that's realised this; in fact, KnapNok Games’ new party game for the Wii U eShop, Spin the Bottle: Bumpie’s Party goes one step further, does away with the TV and instead focuses purely around the Wii U GamePad.
The premise behind Spin The Bottle: Bumpie’s Party is rather unconventional: it advises you to turn the TV off and sit your group of friends (up to eight players) around the Wii U GamePad. In case you’re wondering, this title doesn’t subscribe to a more traditional formula which involves a lot of awkward kissing; instead, spinning the bottle – which is done using the touchscreen on the GamePad – is done entirely for the purpose of choosing a mini-game partner. These players must then take on cooperative challenges using Wii Remotes and occasionally the Wii U GamePad, which are quite physical in nature. The first person to win three challenges wins overall, and the game nicely lets their partner share the victory, even if they themselves haven’t hit their quota.
While this may not sound as cringeworthy as potentially kissing your best friend’s other half, Spin The Bottle: Bumpie’s Party nevertheless excels at creating plenty of awkward situations. As the activities are rather physical, that in turn make this piece of software more suited to an informal party, preferably one where the alcoholic beverages are high and people’s inhibitions are low. That’s not to say that this isn’t family friendly – it’s all harmless fun at the end of the day – but rather Spin The Bottle: Bumpie’s Party is best enjoyed with people who aren’t afraid to get involved and look a little silly.
The mini-games on offer range from simple tasks such as sawing an imaginary piece of wood to more elaborate challenges like playing tennis with an invisible ball or acting as a human jump button for a platforming game. For the most part, the concepts behind the mini-games are fun, and offer something quite different from what you’d expect from a video game. A surprising amount of coordination is required, mainly because in most activities you don’t have any visual indication as to how well you’re doing. Instead, the game forces you to rely on sound effects, which is certainly interesting and unusual, but it also means you’re better off leaving the TV on; the Wii U GamePad speaker is easily drowned out in a crowded and noisy room.
A lot of effort has gone into creating some genuinely unique experiences. For example, in one particular game you and your partner must compete against the other players in a race to catch as many “roosters” as possible. In this context, players must listen to the noises coming from each Wii Remote, and when they hear the Rooster press their assigned button on that controller. Other games emphasise the need to get close to your partner, and if you like that person then you may want to spraying on a bit of deodorant before playing. Certain activities such as waltzing around the room with your partner seem innocent enough, but other games see you practically clambering all over one another. These sorts of mini-games are clearly there for the silly factor, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t welcome; it’s a lot of fun and bound to cause a lot of laughs when you see two friends awkwardly slow dancing with one another.
This is where the game’s overall presentation really helps to set the mood. The visuals are cute and endearing, the sound effects are suitably silly and everything about it is absolutely bonkers. If you are the overall winner, you're awarded with daft prizes, ranging from tractors to bananas, and the title even provides cheeky visual cues during certain mini games — the slow dance mini-game even comes with its own on-screen candle for added romantic effect.
Spin The Bottle: Bumpie's Party is a strictly multiplayer affair, and one which can only really be enjoyed every now and again. That's because there aren't many mini-games on offer, not to mention that most of them require little to no skill. Therefore, you might find that when played with the same group of people on a regular basis, this game quickly loses its initial charm. It's a real shame that there isn't a wider range of challenges available, because overall Spin The Bottle: Bumpie's Party provides an experience like no other on Wii U. The only other issue is that most games tend to require players of a similar height – a game between adults and children, therefore, might be more cumbersome than fun.
If you’re looking for an affordable and fun game to pull out during a party, then Spin The Bottle: Bumpie’s Party will definitely provide a great deal of laughter and fun. The mini-games offer a unique, often hilarious experience and the relatively low level of playing skill required means that this is a title that most people can enjoy. Nevertheless, the lack of variety really does limit the replay value of this title, making it a game which can only really be enjoyed in short bursts.