"Ain’t No Party like a Wii U Party"
While I can understand why the Wii U is treated like the black sheep of the new console generation, being a few technological steps behind the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and boasting games that haven’t appealed to the core gamer crowd, I find it strange that people can write it off so easily considering the gameplay possibilities of the GamePad are just oozing with promise. And while none of the games released so far have taken full advantage of its potential, Wii Party U is a good step towards that eventuality.
Building off the play style of Nintendo’s vast lineup of party games, including its Wii-based prequel, Wii Party U offers casual 1-4 player entertainment that has players using their Miis to engage in a multitude of mini-games and challenges. These are divided into three distinct groups: the more classic Mario Party-esque board games, party games designed around the GamePad, and tabletop-style games that have 2 players using the GamePad at the same time.
With a few exceptions, the GamePad’s unique features come into play in all three to varying degrees. In the majority of the board games, the tablet controller can display helpful information regarding the particular rules of one board, or turn the dice rolls of into little touchscreen mini-games in another. The 2-player tabletop games, meanwhile, relegate events like foosball, baseball and obstacle courses to the small screen completely and have both players use one of the control sticks to control their half of the action, leading to more intimate and smaller-scale games.
Where the GamePad truly shines, though, is in the party games, as they break away from the Mario Party vibe that lingers throughout the rest of Wii Party U and provide some enjoyably unique multiplayer experiences. Among them is an asymmetrical game where the player with the GamePad has to look around and help the other players find his/her location on a map, a “spot the difference” type drawing competition, and a Twister variation that replaces the spotted board with the GamePad and Wii Remotes. My personal favorite had me and two others holding hands and dancing in a circle around the GamePad, following musical cues on the controller’s screen, much to our amusement.
Of course, no Nintendo party game is complete without mini-games in between the larger games. While the offerings this time around come with slightly less variety (Mario Party fans may bemoan the lack of 2 vs. 2 mini-games, for instance), they nonetheless frequently entertain with diversions such as races, reflex challenges, free-for-all competitions, match-up style games and more. The GamePad also energizes up the classic “1 vs. 3” minigame type, building upon its inherent asymmetrical nature through mini-games that have the single player lay traps, drop boulders, drive a huge tank, etc., from the small screen in order to claim victory over the other three.
These, for the most part, are very fun, but they, like the rest of the games in Wii Party U, don’t come without a few stinkers, boring duds that are far from being as enjoyable as the rest. Thank goodness for the power of Miiverse, then. Using the Wii U’s social features, the game allows players to rate each and every game, board, and minigame they play, and then gives them the option to show which ones have been rated the highest and lowest. That way, they can easily enjoy the best the game has to offer without trudging through the worst.
As I said before, Wii Party U is an encouraging indication of where developers will be able to take the Wii U, its asymmetrical design and its social capabilities further down the road. Through its incorporation of the GamePad and Miiverse, the game freshens up and streamlines the classic Mario Party formula of past Nintendo party games. Its casual design may be a turnoff to those still waiting for more hardcore Wii U games, but for those looking for a fun time with their friends, there are few more entertaining options available on the console.
GameDynamo's Score for Wii Party U (Wii U)
A writer, journalist, and aspiring storyteller, Peter Grimm has been gaming since the days of the Nintendo 64, and reporting on the goings-on in the World of Gaming since late 2011. His base of writing operations is located within the void between Here and There, or so he would have you think.
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