Mini game compilations and the Nintendo Wii console go together like cereal and milk. Sure you can eat the cereal straight out of the box, just like you can enjoy mini game compilations on other platforms. But there is something about the family friendliness of the Wii that makes it the perfect console for bundling a bunch of games aimed at players with a short attention span together into something much more complete and worth while.
Which is why the latest compilation from Nordcurrent, 101-in-1 Sports Party Megamix, joins what is already a jam packed genre of games. There are simply loads of these party style compilation games available on the Wii and Sports Party Megamix will have to pull something pretty impressive out of the bag in order to stand out from the crowd.
Having already encountered the DS version of this game, which worked very well, and another 101-in-1 game on the PSP, which I should point out was brilliant, I already had a fair idea of what to expect from this game. I was expecting a massive 101 sports themed mini games which I assumed, being that this version was on the Wii, would have a much more multiplayer feel to them. This is the thing that grabs the attention on the shelf, 101 games. And all of them sports themed. I can’t even think of 101 sports.
But there is the thing. There is not 101 different sports here. These are mini games and there are 101 different aspects of sports presented in small bite-size chunks that can be easily digested by the family. After choosing an avatar (no Mii support here I’m afraid) up to four players get to play out these games for points and glory, with AI bots controlling the left over players. But all of the games are not available straight out of the box. You begin with around 12 games and then, in each of these games, the player has to beat the AI in order to unlock two more games. As you can imagine, it will take quite a while to unlock all of the available mini games.
This is in part due to the variety and ranging difficulty of the mini games themselves. Whilst a lot of them are fairly straight forward and will require little skill to play successfully, some of the games that I came across seemed overly complicated and difficult to complete. The same thing was apparent in the DS version of the game. But it was not a big problem as the player can simply leave these games and come back to them at a later date. It does not stall the progress in the slightest.
The games themselves are varied. Being that there is 101 of them in total, the player will find themselves competing in all sorts of different sporting activities. But the basics remain the same throughout. The game makes use of the motion control in a variety of different ways and although it may take a few attempts to grasp what is required of the player, as the instructions are not always clear, anyone who has spent any time with the Wii will find themselves picking this up with ease.
Listing the 101 games would be a lesson in futility, but most people would be able to imagine the types of mini games that can be found in this package. Think clay pigeon shooting by pointing the WiiMote at the screen, chopping melons with a Samurai sword by swinging the WiiMote in the right direction, or even simply playing catch with the dog. The variety is definitely the games’ strong point and it does incredibly well to package so much into this bundle.
Which is quite handy, as Sports Party does have a couple of issues that dampen the fun slightly. The most obvious problem is the presentation. I have already touched upon how unclear the instructions for the games can be and this is not helped by the fact that things can get a little busy on screen, making it difficult to distinguish things. Although the game is reasonably bright and colourful, the quality of the visuals is not that great, seeming somewhat flat on the Wii.
Then there is the fact that nothing really seems to tie the games together in any meaningful way. I realise that it would have been somewhat unimpressive to have dumped everything into some kind of board game, but at least that would have given the overall experience a purpose. Playing through a few mini games is all well and good by yourself, maybe to kill some time. But in a party atmosphere with friends you need something to connect them all in a more meaningful way than just the score.
With that all being said, it is difficult to get past the fact that there are 101 games in this package. It may not be the best looking game, and it may be confusing at times, but there is no denying that Sports Party offers value for money to the casual gaming market. The serious gamer needs to look elsewhere, but for those spur of the moment family gatherings, 101-in-1 Sports Party Megamix will offer something for everyone.