Review: Wii Party U

If you asked pretty much anybody to name a console to play party/mini games on, the resounding answer would be the Wii. It’s the platform that really defined the collection of simple competitive games that you could play with your mates or let the kids and their friends loose on.

a tiny fraction of all the games available

Now the Wii’s successor, the much more powerful Wii U is out, it seems only natural that the crown should pass from parent to child. And that’s what Wii Party U is all about.

Nintendo kindly sent us Wii Party U to try out a couple of weeks ago. It arrived just in time to see us go to Norfolk for the weekend and leave it untouched. Whoops. But now I’ve had a chance to crack it open and have had some good fun with the boy and Fifi playing our way through some of the myriad of mini games on hand.

Unlike the other Nintendo games we’ve looked at, LEGO City Undercover and The Wonderful 101, Wii U Party doesn’t use the touchscreen gamepad during the course of a lot of the games. Yes, you can use it for main menu stuff or selecting which mini game to play, or for some specific gamepad mini games but generally to ensure an even playing field as you can only have one gamepad connected to a Wii U, each player uses a Wii U controller, which to all intents and purposes looks like it’s Wii predecessor. This made it a lot easier for the kids to pick up and get straight on with.

Like all good party games, the more the merrier, so with the three of us all taking part, we selected free play (there are a couple of options that take a collection of mini games together over a set play time ranging from 10 minutes to three quarters of an hour) and got cracking. If you have the spare time for a good session though, you can select TV Party, House Party or Gamepad Party (which, unsurprisingly uses the gamepad exclusively) and run through a pre defined selection of games around a theme- for example the games in house party are loosely based around board games.

There is a huge variety in game type, from straight forward who-can-waggle-the-controller-the-fastest games, to racing games, sports games where timing is key (the baseball is particularly fun). An awful lot of them are very simple to pick up (the elastic band helicopter game was great for the kids) but devilishly hard to stop playing. I lost count of the number of times the kids demanded one more go on so many of the games.

Some of the games like Button Battler even take a physical turn but be warned, a couple of under 7’s are not the best competitors to try this one with!

Although the medium of mini games doesn’t exactly lend itself to jaw dropping graphics, I was immediately surprised by how good it all looked. I suppose this was a legacy of the original Wii not outputting in HD. The Wii U does, and everything looks much much better for it.

Wii Party U is pretty much the ideal game for the Christmas break, whether it’s with extended family or a few friends who don’t necessarily have to be gamers to enjoy it. Games like counting the blue dominos in a very fast visual domino run are accessible to everyone after all. Wii Party U retails for around £40 with an additional controller, or a bit less without. To my mind you can never have enough controllers, so that would be the one I’d go for.