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Review: Just Dance 2016

Nov 09 // Caitlin Cooke
Just Dance 2016 (Xbox One [reviewed], Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Wii)Developer: UbisoftPublisher: UbisoftMSRP: $49.99 (Just Dance Unlimited streaming service is an additional $6.99/month, 39.99/year)Release Date: October 20, 2015  In addition to the usual modes in the Just Dance series there are a few new ones present to provide different offerings to newcomers and spice things up a bit for seasoned players. Along with the normal competitive Dance Party mode, you can now play cooperatively with other players and work together to reach a high score. Dance Quest is also new, showcasing an interesting concept where you compete against a robot leaderboard and move through the ranks in a set playlist. World Video Challenge allows players to compete with people from around the world in a pre-recorded environment, and Showtime is the most different of the bunch, essentially allowing players to participate in glorified karaoke. Perhaps one of the most useful features to be carried over from Just Dance 2015 is the ability to play the game without a Kinect by holding your smartphone, and allowing up to six players to join in. The Kinect seems to be a forgotten accessory these days as the game no longer supports menu navigation through Kinect, rather players need to use the controller to scroll through. I find this to be a win in my book as I never felt as if it did a good enough job of tracking navigation anyway. The phone navigation is fairly smooth overall but with a limited interface compared to using the controller. I also found the phone tracking buggy at times and even less reliable than using the Kinect to play. For example, if my phone had some kind of notification (like a low battery indicator) go off, it paused the game mid-dance. This caused a lot of frustration since I didn’t really feel like disabling notifications every time I turned the game on. However, I do feel the added flexibility of allowing smartphone play is worth it overall and I’m glad they included it again. Unfortunately the meat of the game, the song list, is lackluster. Recent hits seem sparse, and the variety of genres and time periods also seem to be missing. A majority of the music combs sub-par top hits from the past five years, with only a few one-off gems out of the bunch. I would have liked to see more hits from the '80s and '90s, or at the least better songs from recent years. The choreography for the most part seems lacking across the board with a few exceptions. Perhaps it’s impossible to raise the bar here with six other versions behind its back, or maybe it's betting on the unlimited streaming service to fill the gaps. Some of the dances stand out -- for example, in “Under the Sea” you mimic Ariel and have to sit down, using arm movements and moving your “fins” to the beat. There are also a few interesting choices that mix the game up including a kung-fu style choreographed segment, an Irish dance, and a song featuring Hatsune Miku. These are the high points of the game, especially if you love making your friends dance to silly songs. Outside of this, it’s standard pop fare. The new Showtime mode isn’t much to talk about unless you enjoy humiliating your friends, in which case it’s a complete masterpiece. There is no set choreography, just pure singing and forming your own dance moves to an effects-driven video filled with overlays. It’s not something I enjoyed doing on my own, but watching friends go through it was delightful. I do however wish it offered more songs as you can only pick from a handful -- I suppose designing those overlays and graphics takes a lot of time. The game overall feels a bit limited -- despite all of the new modes, it doesn’t seem very open in terms of what you can do. For example, the Showtime and other video uploads only show a few brief clips from other players around the world, and there isn’t really any way to sort or find new videos -- it only shows you what’s popular and what’s most recent. I was also disappointed that Dance Quest mode, although a bright concept, was extremely limited in that you’re dancing against robot scores (not real people) and you’re not able to create playlists or jump around to different quests. Despite my qualms, I had fun playing Just Dance 2016 -- but then again, it’s hard not to. It’s still a favored party game and one that has almost perfected the fun-for-all game model. Heck, it’s reached a point where it’s thrown in some mediocre new modes and a subscription model just to keep itself fresh, so in some cases you can call this a success. However you can also say that Just Dance is a dying breed, one that is taking its last breath to capitalize on the streaming craze that’s enveloped our little gaming world. I say we don’t think about it too deeply, and just dance. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Just Dance 2016 photo
I've had a little bit too much (much)
Yes, another Just Dance -- the seventh in the series -- has arrived. This latest edition is no exception to the usual hallmarks that defines the series with its ease of accessibility and colorful party atmosphere. It hol...

Fallout 4 photo
Fallout 4

Here are some Bethesda-approved Fallout 4 cocktails

Wasteland Bar Rescue
Nov 06
// Mike Cosimano
A few hours ago, I left the site of Bethesda's Fallout 4 launch party with a temporary case of tinnitus (thanks, Calvin Harris!) and a belly full of Nuka Cola Quantum & In-n-Out burgers. It was a rad time, especially...
Jackbox Party Pack photo
Jackbox Party Pack

The Jackbox Party Pack is coming to retailers

Courtesy of Telltale Games
Nov 03
// Mike Cosimano
Beloved party game The Jackbox Party Pack is coming to North American retailers on Nov. 6, courtesy of Telltale Games' new publishing arm. The partnership between Jackbox Games and Telltale is "part of an all-new strategic pu...

Review: Jackbox Party Pack 2

Oct 13 // Nic Rowen
Jackbox Party Pack 2 (PC [reviewed], PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Amazon Fire TV)Developer: Jackbox Games Inc.Publisher: Jackbox Games Inc.MSRP: $24.99Released: October 13, 2015 The Jackbox Party Pack 2 includes five games in the collection, two of which are returning Jackbox favorites. Fibbage 2 keeps the same great format of creating believable (or hilarious) lying answers to trivia questions to bamboozle your friends while adding in a few new tricks (the new one-time use “deFIBrilllator” gives you a 50/50 chance between the right answer and a single lie instead of seven) and more than doubling the number of questions of the original. While Fibbage still supports 2-8 players, it has borrowed the audience feature of Quiplash to allow audience members watching on a stream or through the web based game client to vote on their favorite answers, sliding even more points to the most entertaining or diabolical players. This feature is particularly great for streamers and folks with large social media circles, just send out the room code and anyone who is interested and join in and see how clever you and your friends are free of charge. Quiplash, which was separately released last summer as a stand-alone title, returns as Quiplash XL. It's identical to the original, but includes the DLC question pack and an extra 100 prompts to spice things up (nice to have after starting to run into rerun jokes after playing a lot of the original). Quiplash is by far the most free-form of the games, simply setting up jokes and asking the players to fill in a punchline. Your friends then judge “WHO IS MOST FUNNY” and vote on which answer tickled them the most. It's quick, easy, and endlessly entertaining.   The only flat note I can think of is that it doesn't seem as lovingly reworked as Fibbage 2. While Fibbage 2 features new art, new tricks, and the freshly adopted audience system, Quiplash XL is just “more Quiplash” with no added bells or whistles. Not a bad thing, but not thrilling either. While the new questions are definitely welcome, if you just bought Quiplash and the DLC question pack a few months ago, it may damage the value proposition of the pack. Fibbage 2 and Quiplash XL are the anchor games of the pack and likely the two titles most groups will spend the majority of their time with, especially as the night wears on and a combination of exhaustion and inebriation make the other games a little too much to handle. Fortunately, they're so good that they basically justify the cost of the pack on their own. But don't count out the rest of the collection. The other games in the pack are a little more daring in design and show that Jackbox Games isn't afraid to venture out of it's comfort zone, for better or worse. Next is Earwax, which unfortunately seems like the lame duck of the pack to me. Earwax prompts players with a question or leading statement and asks them to answer not with words, but with two random sound effects from a selection that is different for each player every round. “What is this party missing?” Maybe it's an “awooga horn” and a “metallic crash.” Or maybe it's a “(female voice) Oh yeah” and a “very long, wet fart.” Are these jokes working? No? Yeah, I thought so too. And that's the sad part about Earwax. While some rounds shook buckets of laughs out of my group, most were met with nervous tittering and awkward silences. You don't know what the choices will exactly sound like, so often the inflections on a line will be different from what you intended, or what seems like a cute joke will just fall flat. The pace of the game is off too, with everything between introducing new prompts to playing sound effects taking just slightly too long, bogging down the experience (especially after a dud round). The concept is interesting, but the execution just didn't pan out. Thankfully, the other new additions to the Jackbox family fit in much more smoothly.   Bidiots, the spiritual successor to Drawful, is a drawing game with a bidding and bluffing element that is surprisingly engaging. At the start of each game, each player is given two prompts to (poorly) draw with their finger tip, a budget of $3000 to bid with, and a few tidbits of secret information other players may or may not have, like how much a certain piece is worth. Where things get interesting is that multiple players will likely have prompts that are vaguely similar to each other. Three separate players may have “day at the beach,” “getting a tan,” and “sunburn.” Your goal is to finish the game with the most cash possible, cash you earn by driving up the price of pieces you made, and successfully winning bids for high value pieces -- a trick easier said than done with the number of thematically similar pieces going around. “Sunburn” might be worth a cool $3800, but what if you confuse it with the near worthless “getting a tan?” To help guide you, rich art patrons will occasionally text you throughout the game with tips like “Player 2 knows the exact value of the next piece” and if you get really stuck, you can always take on a predatory loan, easy cash now that you'll pay back with interest at the end of the game. Bidiots is a ridiculously great time. While it may take a little more explaining than the other games in the previous collections, the result is a mix of the same goofy fun of Drawful with a sly layer of strategy underneath. Really great if your friends are used to playing competitive boardgames or otherwise enjoy a little bit of mental warfare with their games. Definitely the standout of the new games. Last is the off-kilter Bomb Corp, a game that plays like a faster, less complex version of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. Bomb Corp ditches the faux game-show trappings of the other games with the odd premise of being a new worker in the poorly run office of a bomb factory; your job is to disarm all of the accidentally activated bombs by referring to the instruction manual. Of course this is a party game, so the instruction book will be divided between up to four players with each player getting one or two (often intentionally contradicting) rules. Each bomb presents increasingly complex logic puzzles to solve as the rules get more byzantine. Rule #1 might say to disarm by cutting all the wires from right to left, Rule #2 says that no green wires can be cut even if another rule says to do it, Rule #3 stipulates that only Player 2 can cut odd numbered wires, while Rule #4 is a correction to Rule #2 that says green should have been written as “blue” all of which you try to frantically communicate as the timer clicks down. *Boom* Bomb Corp is a surprising addition to the pack with a distinctly different feel from the rest of the games. I see if as a great option to get folks who may be a little nervous about the more creative games into the swing of things with a more structured experience. That said, the later levels of the game have to potential to stall out a group if you keep getting blown up on the same section. It should also be noted that Bomb Corp can be played by a single player, which gives the pack a smidgen more value for those times when you don't have a group around, but doesn't seem a huge addition either way. Brass tacks, the Jackbox Party Pack 2 made me and my friends laugh our asses off, and that's what it's all about. I can't think of an easier or quicker way to reduce a room to a giggling mass of hysteria, just toss it at a group of people and go. Party Pack 2 is a ridiculous value that is sure to provide you and your friends with a lot of laughs and great memories, exactly what every party game should aspire to. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Jackbox Party Pack 2 photo
A jacked up good time
Last year, The Jackbox Party Pack showed everyone how to do party games right. It served up quick, punchy laughs, and did it all with zero hassle. This was thanks in no small part to the game's innovative interface that allow...

Microsoft photo

12-person party chat available now on Xbox One

Did you vote for it?
Sep 30
// Vikki Blake
Microsoft is introducing 12-person party chat to Xbox One from today -- and you don't have to be in the preview programme to use it. Major Nelson confirmed that the feature, which received 2200 votes on Xbox Fe...
Win one of 3 copies!
The fine folks at tinyBuild were kind enough to give us three Steam copies of the just released Party Hard, so that we could pass them on to you! The game is pretty darn fun imo and for free, how can you complain? To win, all you have to do is leave a comment below containing an awesome gif of party related shenanigans. That's it! Contest ends Sept. 1 @ 11:59pm PST Party on Wayne.

Review: Quiplash

Jul 12 // Nic Rowen
Quiplash (PC [reviewed], PS4, Xbox One, iOS)Developer: Jackbox Games Inc.Publisher: Jackbox Games Inc.MSRP: $9.99Released: June 30, 2015 Quiplash is the latest title from the party-game maestros at Jackbox Games. It represents what they learned from the success of the Jackbox Party Pack and how they observed people using it. It takes the pick-up-and-go ease of those games to a whole new level by cutting out every superfluous element of the experience and leaving nothing but goofs and japes. Quiplash works by getting three-to-eight players together, asking a few leading questions to different sets of players, and getting the audience to vote on which answer they think is funniest. Then it's off to the next round for more of the same. It's a quick no-fuss-no-muss mainlining of jokes, with each game taking roughly ten minutes start to finish. When I first started playing it, I was worried that that they cut too much, that without some kind of a framework the game would devolve into chaos. But surprisingly, it works. It's a much more egalitarian game than the other Jackbox titles, one that is easier to rope people into. There's no baggage, no time commitment, and no stakes except you and your friends' amusement. This lack of consequence and ease of use is a godsend when playing with mixed company, making it an even more appealing party choice over the other Jackbox games. While You Don't Know Jack is hilarious, it can lead to some sore feelings if one person in the room is the perpetual dunce. Fibbage is fantastic, but with the relatively small pool of questions, veterans have a distinct advantage. And while I personally believe Drawful is at its best when nobody knows how to draw worth a damn, it tends to be intimidating to people who's artistic skills might rival a chimps. Quiplash is just a vehicle for jokes. A vehicle you can ride as long as you like, or hop off on a whim to go find something in the kitchen or chat with someone. Just like the Jackbox Party Pack games, it is ridiculously easy to get an entire living room of people into a game of Quiplash. All a person needs is a device with a web-browser like a cellphone or tablet, and a questionable moral fiber to get in on the action. But Quiplash takes it one step further. Seeing the popularity of their other games on streaming services such as Twitch, Jackbox Games designed Quiplash with streaming in mind from the ground up. While only eight players are able to provide answers and gags, an audience of up to 10,000 can vote on which goof tickled them best. There is no registration or buy-in necessary. You could try it right now but simply searching Twitter or Twitch for an active game and punching the room number into While there is nothing overtly offensive about Quiplash, comparisons to the adult party game Cards Against Humanity are almost unavoidable. The two games definitely share the same naughty head-space, with CAH offering a selection of deliciously offensive punchlines, while Quiplash spoon-feeds the room questions that are guaranteed to rouse the profane 14-year-old lurking inside of every normally responsible adult. However, because Quiplash depends on the creativity of it's players, you don't run into the diminishing returns a well-worn deck of CAH suffers from. I mean, “Glenn Beck Catching His Scrotum on a Curtain Hook” is a great line the first (dozen) times you hear it, but nothing can retain its shock value forever. This dependency on player creativity is both a blessing and a curse. Playing with a group of quick-witted people who know each others tastes or how to push each others' buttons can yield tremendous results. Earlier this week, a “low-key” get together with some friends turned into a all-night booze-fueled Quiplash binge that left me sore with laughter the next day. It was fantastic. Jumping into a few online games provided a mixed, and decidedly less amusing, time. While some of the streams I joined were fairly funny, a depressing number of them seemed to be a competition of who could staple together the most vulgar combination of “poop, jizz, butts, poop, ur mom” in an answer, no matter what the question was. But, since the commitment level to a game of Quiplash is roughly zero, it's easy to just up and bounce if a particular online room seems lame. If that rough time is happening in your own living room however, things might get trickier. Maybe get better friends? “Accidentally” set the room on fire? Or you could strap them down Clockwork Orange style, peel their eyes open and make them watch episodes of Louie and old Kids in the Hall sketches until they generate a sense of humor. I'm a reasonable man after all. Quiplash is a drum-fed machine gun of jokes. It's quick, it's snappy, and I'm hard pressed to think of a better time one could buy for $10 without breaking a few laws. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Quiplash Review photo
Quiplash is what you get when Fibbage and Drawful get a few drinks in them and stop screwing around. When you strip down the flimsy excuse of a lying/trivia game, remove your friends embarrassing chicken-scratch doodles, and leave nothing but raw, undiluted, punch-lines. It's a party game that is so minimalist, it's almost not there. Thankfully, with the right group of people, it's also hilarious.

That's What I Call Sing photo
That's What I Call Sing

New karaoke game That's What I Call Sing coming to PS4, Xbox One

All about that bass, baby
Jul 10
// Vikki Blake
There are a lot of people who couldn't give a tiny rat's ass about karaoke games. I am not one of those people. Surprised? Yeah. ME TOO. Turns out that I need a release from all the blood and shit kill:death ratios of my typi...
amiibo party time! photo
amiibo party time!

What every amiibo looks like with a party hat

This is cute as all get-out
Jun 10
// Brett Makedonski
One year ago to the day, Nintendo unveiled amiibo at its E3 press conference. Since then, the tale of these little plastic figurines has been well-documented. Many of them are low in supply, they're stressful to find, an...
Konami is bad photo
Konami is bad

Creator blames Konami for end of popular 27-year-old series

Love to work for Konami
Jun 03
// Steven Hansen
Momotaro Dentetsu isn't a household name in the states, but in Japan the series has sold tens of millions and long predates Mario Party as a popular (train-themed) video game board game. The Hudson series has seen dozens of e...

Knight Squad was the most fun I had at PAX South

Jan 28 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]286807:57063:0[/embed] Like any party game worth its salt, Knight Squad forces you into a good-natured competitive flurry for a few minutes at a time. And, when any given round is over, everyone will want to immediately start a new one. It's easy to pick up and difficult to put down. Boasting eight-player action, Knight Squad either pits everyone against one another separates them into four person teams. There are eight game modes -- a few vaguely innovative, most classics everyone knows and loves. The likes of team and free-for-all capture the flag are present, and were maybe the biggest hits all weekend. For my money, working as a team to push a giant soccer ball while fighting off the other side was the most enjoyable. Honestly though, it didn't really matter which mode was played, as all players were fully into every round. Littering the battlefield are power-ups that constantly regenerate. Some are a bit more passive like boots to increase speed, or a sword to give a tiny bit more reach. Others were brazenly in-your-face like a kamikaze bomb and a lightning rod that shot streaks across the screen. Whatever your method, Knight Squads brisk-paced action ensures you won't remain dedicated to it for too long. Deaths come at a quick clip, and that power-up you really liked suddenly isn't yours anymore. No worries, some other combination will manifest itself this time -- oops, you're dead again. Oh well, right back into the fray. Despite being surrounded by seven other players, I flexed my Knight Squad prowess immediately. You see, I had a bit of an unfair advantage. I played it at PAX Prime during an impromptu play session at an indie showcase. When I got an email from the developers asking to book a PAX South appointment, I didn't have to wonder what kind of coverage I'd get out of it. I just wanted to play again. That's why, of all the bookings at PAX South, Knight Squad was the only one I insisted Kyle accompany me on. For the life of him, he couldn't understand why. Admittedly, it doesn't look like much at first. Once we had one round under our belts, we didn't want to leave. It's the kind of game that just grabs you and never lets go until the party's over. We stayed and kept playing, damn the ever-increasing mess of people behind us. It's unknown if that magic will transfer over to an online crowd. It's unlikely that many will be able to accommodate eight players in their living room, so online is where most will see Knight Squad in full force. While the game's Early Access right now, the first online version should go live sometime this week. The final retail build is scheduled to release sometime around late March on PC and Xbox One. For ID@Xbox parity clause reasons, Chainsawesome will start thinking about other platforms (likely PS4 and Wii U) at a later date. Whenever it comes to your platform of choice, there's a good time awaiting you. It's a dose of Bomberman, a dash of Gauntlet, and a whole heaping of trash-talking your friends. That is, until you inevitably get shanked in retribution. Alas, that's the circle of life in Knight Squad.
Knight Squad preview photo
And it wasn't even close
If you were to take booths' popularity at PAX South and plot them on a heat map, most of the obvious candidates would stick out. Twitch would be red hot, as it constantly had a flurry of people swarming to watch their favorit...

Jackbox Party contest photo
20 copies up for grabs
The Jackbox Party Pack is the ultimate collection of party games for you and your non-existent friends to not play when they don't come over because they aren't real, and now it can be yours for the low, low price of absolute...

Dtoid at PAX Prime photo
Dtoid at PAX Prime

Dtoid's community meetup plans for PAX Prime 2014!

Bookmark this page for guaranteed fun!
Aug 29
// mrandydixon
[Update: Our big party is tonight! Hope to see you there!] PAX Prime 2014 is happening right now! We're armed to the teeth with meetups scheduled for Thursday, Friday, Sunday, and Monday, a badass party we're co-hosting with ...

Weekend Playlist: E3 Edition

Jun 07
It's my favorite time of the year ladies and gentlemen. E3 is almost upon us and therefore I have gathered the future sounds of Devolver Digital's excellent party line up which includes Nidhogg OST creator (and personal hero...

This is Destructoid's ROBOT party

Mar 22 // Niero Desu
Special thanks to our sponsors SEGA, En Masse and Twitch, our DJs MyKill, GrimeCraft, R3Y, plus all the people behind the scenes: One PR Studio, Kjell, Jeanne, Kayla, Sean, Lance, Manny, Mari, Amber, GunRun, and everybody else that burned the midnight oil to make this happen.  So what can you expect from our next ROBOT party? Live party stream  + contests: Dev interviews on stage + photo hashtags: [embed]272339:53108:0[/embed]   Themed party drinks from our sponsors: Laser guns, costumes for attendees, and LED light party favors: Step-in custom photo booth & themed gift bags: Food truck + Chillout quiet area to network: Live Music performances + Master of Ceremony: Custom visuals & crazy robots dancing on projectors: And of course, you can borrow the helmet and dance on stage! Missed our bash? We're doing it again: Destructoid is always looking for venues and sponsors to bring the party to the next event! Get in touch with me at niero [at] destructoid dot com if you're interested in being a part of this madness.  See you at the next one!  
DTOID Party photo
Thanks again to SEGA, TWITCH, and En Masse Entertainment
Destructoid loves to put on parties for our community, and our new event concept "ROBOT" was our biggest production ever! While we're working on the video from the party here's a gallery of the amazing people that rolled through. 


Reminder! Destructoid's GDC party is tonight!

Join SEGA, EnMasse Entertainment, Twitch, and Dtoid for one wild night!
Mar 18
// Mari Monzo
Update: The Me So Hungry food truck will be parked at our party! Doors open at 8pm, and the event is sold out via EventBrite. If you RSVP'd via Facebook or are super BFFs with Dtoid crew we will try to accommodate y...


GDC '14 + March 18 @ Mighty
Mar 06
// Niero Desu
Details to come. RSVP

Review: Mario Party: Island Tour

Nov 27 // Caitlin Cooke
Mario Party: Island Tour (3DS)Developer: Nd CubePublisher: NintendoRelease Date: November 22, 2013MSRP: $39.99 Mario Party: Island Tour presents a variety of game modes: eight main party modes, three minigame modes, and StreetPass minigames. Party mode focuses on the core of the Mario Party series -- characters progress on a game board with the goal of either getting to the end first or collecting the most mini-stars. Each party mode is rated in three different categories: Skill, Luck, and Minigames. For example, the Rocket Road game is rated at two skill, four minigame, and five luck because it’s basically a game where you roll a die to get to the end of a line, but also contains many tiles that make you switch places with opponents (i.e., lots of luck involved). Estimated play times are also shown, which I found helpful but somewhat unreliable. I had kind of hoped for a mode that resembled the original premise of Mario Party -- screwing over other players to collect the most coins and stars. Unfortunately, nothing like that exists. It’s almost as if they took each aspect of the original Mario Party and chopped it up into different modes. One board’s goal is to collect mini-stars, another board focuses on items that affect players, etc. There isn’t really one “complete” Mario Party experience. That being said, there are a few boards that break from the mold. For example, Kamek’s Carpet Ride utilizes cards instead die, forcing players to use a bit of strategy in which cards they decide to play. In Bowser’s Peculiar Peak, the goal is to stay in last place by not making it to the end or Bowser will smash you with his hammer. These modes are somewhat enjoyable but not really the complete package I was hoping for since the goal is usually one-sided and involves finishing the board. To make matters worse, the gameplay is somewhat unbearable at times. I realize this is a child-friendly game, but Toad goes above and beyond with babying the players. His trademark is to point out something obvious each turn -- like who is about to win the game or how many rounds until a minigame is played. If I get a card or item that could potentially allow me to win the game, he’ll say something like “Between you and me, if you use this, you could reach the goal!” Nothing is left for you to figure out on your own. Island Tour seems rigged in the sense that nothing is truly randomized -- the games are fair to a fault. Toad will sometimes rearrange the turn orders based on minigame ranking to allow players who are behind to catch up. Each mode also seems to have a mechanism to prevent players from progressing too far ahead, whether it be Bonzai Bill knocking players back or a Whomp blocking the path. In Star-Crossed Skyway players are forced to stop advancing once they hit a certain platform, allowing everyone else to catch up. And usually there’s some sort of “random” havoc that happens every once in a while to even the playing field for opponents who are behind. The one mode I actually enjoyed was Bowser’s Tower, a single-player story(ish) driven game where you climb a tower and defeat bubble ghosts by playing minigames. As you climb, Bowser likes to randomly select a punishment or reward which could affect enemy levels or your sacred Mario Party Points (which are used to purchase collectables). There’s also an option to save and come back later to finish the tower, which is a useful addition for folks who are strapped for time. Minigames are the highlight of Island Tour -- there are a wide variety of games and for the most part they’re entertaining and original. I was happy to find that 3DS capabilities were used in most minigames -- tilt, 3D, mic, touch screen, dual screen, and augmented reality all made an appearance. I did notice however that any of the games utilizing the mic were extremely off. I tested both voice impersonation games with my fiance -- he whispered lewd things into the mic while I actually attempted to play and I lost each and every time. It was hilarious, but disappointing. Although I enjoyed most of the minigames, Mario Party: Island Tour lacks heart at the end of the day. I explained the situation to a non-gaming friend and she replied, “So if this were a party in real life, the host basically ordered too much salad instead of pizza.” Her assessment is eerily accurate -- in the Mario Party diet, the salad is the necessary but restricting structure and the pizza is the delicious, random fun that makes it worthwhile. The amount of hand-holding in this latest installment leaves me longing for the Mario Party days of yore -- a time when people actually worked hard to win minigames because it got them that much closer to the big reward: a star. The minigames in Island Tour are enjoyable but the structure around them can be tiring and almost too fair to bad (or just plain unfortunate) players. The only true merit of Mario Party: Island Tour is the ability to play Mario Party with your local friends on the 3DS. As long as they have a 3DS and are close-by, playing via Download Play is fairly quick and painless. However, the lack of online play and the overall single-player experience is a pretty big bummer. Unless you’re desperate and need a quick Mario Party fix on the go, stick with a console version if you can.
Mario Party review photo
More like Island BORE
I consider myself a Mario Party veteran -- I’ve been a huge fan of the series, with a particular emphasis on the cutthroat days of the N64 titles. There’s nothing like losing the skin on the palm of your hands t...

Last call for a PS4 photo
Last call for a PS4

444 PS4s selling in NYC for people without pre-orders

Go get in line!
Nov 13
// Joshua Derocher
The PlayStation Blog made an announcement that 444 PlayStation 4s will be available at The Standard, High Line hotel in New York City. These will be sold at a midnight launch event at the hotel, and there will be arcade ...
Nintendo photo

Wii Party U dramatically increases Wii U sales in Japan

Minigame collection and new bundle drive hardware sales
Nov 09
// Kyle MacGregor
Wii Party U probably isn't going to set the world on fire, but it just might help save the Wii U. The minigame-fest hit shelves in Japan last week along with a special console bundle that also includes New Super Mar...

Review: Wii Party U

Oct 24 // Chris Carter
Wii Party U (Wii U)Developer: Nintendo (Nd Cube)Publisher: NintendoReleased: October 25, 2013MSRP: $49.99 (with Black Wii Remote Plus - physical release only) Wii Party U is basically Nintendo's crack at a Mario Party-like IP (although Nd Cube did recently handle Mario Party 9). Under the helpful watch of the absolutely adorable Muppet-like Party Phil and Party Penny, you'll take your personalized Mii on a journey across three modes: board games, a party mode, and activities played entirely on the GamePad. Yep, just like Mario Party, there are a few boards to travel across that basically serve as a delivery mechanism for minigames. The design feels a bit odd for sure, because in some ways the in-game mechanics are superior to Nintendo's famous party franchise, and in others, it feels more bare-bones. For instance, I love the rolling system in Wii Party U, as it's mostly based on skill rather than luck. Depending on the board, you'll either earn more dice for performing well in minigame challenges, or the dice rolls themselves are tiny microgames. So instead of simply rolling a die and moving that many spaces, you may have to shoot a blowgun dart at a numbered balloon by blowing into the GamePad's microphone, or quickly tap a procession of numbers flying across the touch screen. But while I found that minor mechanical tweak to be a unique change of pace, the boards have a distinct lack of personality. Instead of the clever tricks and traps found in most Mario Party boards (the Monopoly and Ghost Mansion maps really stand out for me), most boards in Wii Party U are very bare-bones, and offer generic mishaps like "go back three spaces." At the crux of the entire experience are the minigames, of which there are over 80. In a setup similar to Mario Party, you can access all of these individually from the main menu, as well as set up micro tournaments that consist entirely of skirmish after skirmish with some gimmicks involved to mix things up. The games range from luck-based endeavors like "hide from the ostrich!" to one of the most enjoyably competitive (albeit simple) Pac-Man clones I've seen to date. One really cool feature is the ability to "rate" games after you've played them on a five-star rating system, which is then collectively applied to games on the list via the internet. As an aside, the vast majority of these games are played with Wiimotes, so you'll need four of them to accommodate a full house. Thankfully most of them didn't go overboard with waggle, and there's a decent mix of old-school NES-style controls alongside some shaking. Effectively, you could call Wii Party U "Minigames: The Game," which would be both a compliment and a slight -- but in general I was having fun, even if I've seen most of it before. Party Mode is a bit more out of the box, offering activities like "rate your friends," to Pictionary, to a Twister-like free-for-all, where everyone is trying to grab certain buttons on the GamePad, and four Wiimotes laid out on the floor. You'll need a party of three or more to play the majority of these, and depending on how active your group is, your mileage will vary. For some of these games you'll need a special stand, which is included in the box to help prop up your GamePad. I wasn't too impressed by these, but with the right group you'll make your own fun. The final piece of the puzzle is a small collection of GamePad-only games. This portion is restricted to two players, since each person will be taking up one end of the controller, using opposite analog sticks to control the action. These are more like tech demos compared to the rest of the Wii Party U, and include things like foosball, baseball, and marble games. It can be a bit annoying to find a perfect spot that's in range of the Wii U to accommodate two players on the same screen -- but with an enthusiastic partner, at least half of these adversarial and co-op-enabled games can serve as a minor distraction. In short, it's more like an extra than a full-blown feature. Outside of the sheer amount of minigames and modes on offer, there isn't a whole lot to unlock in Wii Party U -- what you see is basically what you get. In terms of replay value you'd be hard pressed to be entertained for more than a week by yourself, and with two players, you may get another week or two out of it. But with three to four player engagements constantly, you're going to get a ton more mileage. In some ways Wii Party U feels like a more refined Mario Party, albeit with a lot less heart and charm. It constantly straddles the line between tech-demo and full-on experience, but after playing it extensively, my brain tends to gravitate towards the latter. Although it isn't the be-all-end-all of party games, I'm pulling for Party Phil and Party Penny to be in the next Smash Bros. -- because after all, Nintendo could really use more Muppets.
Wii Party U review photo
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