Game Party Champions
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2012-11-25 Wii U Mini-games E (Everyone) Warner Bros. Interactive / Phosphor Games

Perhaps more than any other console, the Nintendo Wii is known for its party games, with one of the more popular series being Game Party, formerly developed by Midway. With the launch of the Wii U, Game Party has been given new life thanks to Warner Bros, but the same gimmicky gameplay remains. In fact, everything good about previous Game Party games has been scrapped here, in favor of mechanics that barely work in an attempt to cash in on early adopters of the system that wouldn't know any better.

Game Party Champions offers both free-play for its mini-games as well as a cringe-worthy storyline surrounding a friend desperate to live in your spotlight by pushing you to enter various competitions at the local arcade. The player character models are atrocious and even creepy, with large bug eyes and disproportionate features. It's an odd combination between cartoon and realistic styles that does nothing more than make the player laugh.

The mini-games themselves fare no better, and consist of most every Wii U gimmick currently available. It's an obvious cry of "look what the Wii U can do," but the actual product is full of glitches and games that are simply hard to play due to inaccurate aiming or the awful implementation of the Wii U GamePad's screen.

From ping pong to football, most mini-games simply ask you to earn a specific number of points within a set time limit, either to beat your own previous score or those assigned by the game, and while beating those scores is usually quite easy, it's not because the game allows for anything resembling skill, but because the scores were so low to begin with.

Each game comes with its own set of problems. In the basketball mini-game, for instance, the GamePad must be held on its side, with the A, X, Y, and B buttons facing away from the player. This side of the controller must be moved to aim your shot, with the angle relative to the TV determining how far the basketball actually travels with each flick of the stylus on the touch screen. Moving targets mean it's near impossible to have perfect timing with each shot, as you'll constantly need to fumble with the GamePad to place it at the right angle, only to flick a ball that flies either too far away or too close to where you actually needed it to go.

The same can be said for the football game, which relies on a similar GamePad tilting mechanic, only here, the force and speed of your flick does nothing to change the way you throw the ball, as it will simply fly where it wants to go. Early on in each game, the aiming calibration becomes skewed, forcing you to turn the GamePad a full 90 degrees in some instances to aim at objects on the left or right sides of the television screen.

When playing air hockey, you're asked to tap and hold on the screen to control your striker, but the game frequently responds as though you've lifted the stylus from the screen when you really haven't, and it's much easier to accidentally score a goal in your own end than actually score a point on your opponent. In ping pong, there's no visual representation of the ball on the GamePad as you're trying to hit it, and you can literally close your eyes and simply flick on the screen as you hear the ball bounce to play. Here again, the AI is downright awful, as an opponent is just as likely to stand motionless and not attempt to hit the ball back as it is to try.

Perhaps the biggest headache comes with the game's miniature golf outing, as there's no way to see the cup on most holes as you're trying to aim, and the camera is hard locked to the back of the ball. As the ball turns around corners, bounces off of obstacles or simply rolls as a ball would, the camera flips and turns wildly enough to make you nauseous or at least dizzy. Adding insult to injury, the tap and drag mechanic for pulling back the putter rarely works, and you'll end up sending the ball flying across the world when trying to make the slight movements necessary to move the ball the final few inches to the cup (if you're lucky enough to get the ball that close to the cup anyway).

Game Party Champions has enough game variety to have some real potential, but it feels like an incredibly rushed experience that no one actually tested before it was released. The game has virtually no redeeming qualities other than its potential for laughter as you watch everyone else make fools of themselves at a party as they try to play it. Even as the Wii U's first "budget title" (if $30-$50 can be considered a "budget" game), Game Party Champions is not worth the investment. If you're looking for a stellar party game, and have unfortunately already exhausted all of your options within Nintendo Land (which is superb), you're better off just waiting for something better to come along after this.