Many gamers have come to understand the Wii as a console for very specific tastes. The occasional must have such as Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, exercise games for the busy yet health conscious mom and of course, the games for the kids. A large number of the games available on the Wii are party games suitable for putting on and enjoying with a group of friends or family. Family Party: 30 Great Games is a part of that trend. It presents itself as a game suitable for everyone in the family to play and enjoy while spending time bonding. And if they're like most families, realizing that bonding time has to be taken in moderation. Which is what the off button is for.
Seeking to experience the bliss of moderate family bonding, I turned the game on and quickly realized that....I can't play my Mii! I can't play my Mii? What gives? Instead I'm looking at a screen of predesigned 'family' members, including at least overly cutesy little girl, apron wearing mom and a pair of surprisingly sprightly elderly grandparents. I wasn't quite expecting to be playing a family game where myself and my family couldn't play characters that looked like us. As a matter of fact, I fully expected to play my Mii. I understand that the Mii's are mostly in first party games, but there are a few third party games that have used the system. This seems like a great game to have tried to go that route, especially since it's supposed to be you and your FAMILY playing together. And while the avatars available do look fairly amusing while playing, it still doesn't have the same 'oomph' as watching an electronic version of Mom or Dad getting beaten hands down by Junior. And with no ability to change what the avatars look like...it's just not quite my family.
Oh well, so I can't look like me. Plenty of other games where I can't either. So! Moving onto the game! When you start up a game you have the option of going into different arenas where you can compete against other players or the computer in a series of themed challenges, or you can pick and choose challenges from different arenas. Once you've selected what you'd like to play, you are introduced to your first challenge. After a screen or two that explains the game controls, you get to compete. The explanations seemed pretty simple enough! So I've got my remote in hand, I'm ready to go...and I fail, miserably. And again. And again. Over and over again I found myself struggling to get the avatar to react properly to the controls in order to win the game. Heck, after multiple losses I wanted to forget winning and just complete the challenges. Because of the controls, I had trouble doing that! The instructions do a poor job of fully explaining how to play some of the games; for example, some of the games require you to rock the remote back and forth to make the character run, but it doesn't do a good job of explaining that you actually have to frantically jerk it back and forth to accomplish that.
And for a family game, it's horribly unforgiving of failure. Don't let sensitive kids play these games; the first time they're told that they're a failure because they couldn't get the difficult controls, they might have a nervous breakdown. Oh, and you're a failure if you get anything other than first place. So it's win or nothing in this game. Granted, after practice...agonizing practice...the controls got a little easier to control and made some of the games more enjoyable. But I don't know if younger children would be willing to continue playing after being ridiculed by their video game. Especially when they're getting beaten by grandparent avatars. Those sprightly old grandfolk are more energetic than their adult kids, let me tell you. Playing against the computer is absolutely not recommended. Without another player to struggle with me and help alleviate some of my agitation, I'd have seriously considered eating the Wii remote in sheer frustration.
Family Party is lacking in a couple of other areas as well. The music can be a little annoying and the tracks aren't that funny or catchy. As a matter of fact, it can be a little grating to listen to after a while. And let's face it, when you've been soundly beaten in a game it would be nice to have an option to simply end the competition. You're going to be in last place anyway, right? So why torture me by making me continue to try a challenge that I just can't win? And the graphics are fairly simplistic which is understandable for this type of game, but some of the animations could have been a little smoother.
Allowing for poorly done controls, some of the games are actually fun to play, once you've gotten the hang of things. It does, however, require playing through a multitude of other boring and annoying games to find your favourites. And even once found, they can get pretty repetitious and boring after a while. Some party games are really fun and some are just mediocre. This game, while putting forth a brave effort, is really lackluster when it comes to delivering the hours of fun times that it promises. So have your family and friends practice, find some games you like and turn it on when you're in the mood. And if none of the games are quite catching your attention (or if none of the controls are doing what you need them to), just turn it off. You won't be missing anything if you never play some of the games; they are really not that great.