December 11, 2012

Where’s the Party?

Lasting First Impressions of Game Party Champions

Developed by Phosphor Game Studios  |  Published by Warner Bros.

Game Party Champions boxart» Game Party now enters its fifth title in the franchise exclusively for the Wii U.  Until now, all the games in this series were developed exclusively for the Wii by FarSight Studios and all consistently received very low Metacritic scores.  I’m sure Warner Bros. were hoping to change that fate with their new Game Party Champions for Wii U by giving the development duties to Phosphor Game Studios instead.  Phosphor was involved in creating one of the 5 games available in Kinect Adventures, so surely they understand what it means to develop for new, innovative hardware, right?  Unfortunately, for whatever reason, whether it be lack of vision or lack of time to properly create a fun party game, Game Party Champions is simply no party at all.

Game Party Champions consists of eight games that would be found at an arcade or amusement park, but none of them truly elicit any kind of satisfaction that the real event would provide.  While each of the games use the new GamePad and second screen to provide a novel new method of gameplay, the lack of precision and feedback inherent in this second screen leads more to frustration and confusion than to laughter and amusement.

Game Party Champions screen 1Unlike prior games in the series, this new iteration includes a story mode that follows a teenager on the path to become the local champion. His story will take players through each of the eight available games and they will need to win each game five times before entering the final tournament.  I tried playing through this story mode at first and the games here gave me no reason to ever want to continue playing them over and over again to win the championship.

Games such as Football (Target Shot), Mini Golf, and Hoop Shot all require the use of a sideways GamePad to aim and tilt before swiping up on the screen to make a shot. The problem with this control method is the inevitable movement of the GamePad during the swiping motion which throws off the player’s aim every time.  Baseball (Batting Cage) and Ping Pong require the player to simply swipe the stylus across the screen to hit the ball as it approaches them. This control method seems to be there just because the GamePad exists rather than giving the player a Wii Remote to truly imitate the game.  All the games in Game Party Champions have been designed to use the GamePad as the sole input method for each of the games, even when it doesn’t make sense. Most of these games would be more impressive if the Wii Remote could be used but, instead, we are forced to use Nintendo’s new input method simply because it exists, rather than because it’s needed.

Game Party Champions screen 2Game Party Champions is a great example of how the new GamePad controller can be used in a game but never truly amounts to anything but a glorified tech demo.  None of the games presented here give any kind of satisfaction even after a win.  If you’re looking for a fun party game to enjoy with the family or with friends, stick with the bundled Nintendo Land that came with your Wii U.  There is no party to be found here.

Phosphor Game Studios, I gave you an hour and I am NOT IMPRESSED.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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