Usually my gaming is a pretty solitary affair; I boot up my JRPG or puzzle game of choice and then play alone for hours at a time. The last time I played a family game was when the Nintendo Wii launched with Wii Sports back in 2006, so I never thought I would have much fun with a game that forces you to play with multiple people.
Boy was I wrong.
Wii Party U combines simplistic but highly addictive gameplay. The end result is a game that could easily be nestled right in the middle of family game night, or maybe toward the end to help take the edge off the masochistic session of Monopoly that everyone plays for some reason.
There are several kinds of mini-games to choose from which include Zigzaggurat, Operation Sandbox and Name That Face. These minigames make good use of the Wii U GamePad–one player controls it and the others use Wii Remotes to cooperate with or battle against the GamePad wielder.
In Zigzaggurat, the person with the GamePad must control where blocks will fall in a certain area, as well as the frequency of those falling blocks. The other players must try to dodge all the blocks while moving around in frantic zigzags (hence the name). If all the players get knocked out, the GamePad player wins and if one person manages to survive the onslaught, they win instead.
Operation Sandbox has the GamePad player control a very large tank. The Wii Remote-using players command much smaller tanks, as they attack the larger machine while dodging its powerful One-Hit-KOs. The surviving tank is the winner but because of the size difference, the best way to play is for all the small tanks to cooperate–at least until the large tank has been taken care of.
The final game we tested out was called Name That Face, and it took the form of a cheesy game show you’d see in the ’70s. The player that uses the GamePad controller gets a random prompt and must take a picture of their facial expression representing what that prompt is. The other players them choose from one of four prompts as they try to guess what the scenario is. Seeing as how scenarios can be “face you’d make stalking a Wilderbeast” weird, this game isn’t as easy as it sounds.
During the entire Wii Party U segment, the room was flooded with constant laughter and everyone, for a while at least, forgot that they were journalists, company representatives or even gamers, and just had a great time. The experience has really gotten me excited for another bout of social gaming, as corny as that may sound.
Wii Party U will be released for North America and Europe on October 25th for Wii U.