It was inevitable that with the release of Sony’s Move a mini-party game would end up on the shelves, attempting to show what the system is capable of. Sony’s take on this genre is Start the Party, a collection of nine short events that will have the giddy gamer swatting bugs, painting shapes and rescuing plummeting sky divers.
Given the cutesy nature of the graphics, the audience this game is aiming for is quite clear – casual. This may also explain just why so many of the tasks, such as swatting a bunch of bugs, are as trivial as they are. It’s fun for a couple of minutes, but sat doing this on your own for any longer and you come up with ways to improve the experience, such as stabbing your hand with a fork between rounds. It’s really not designed with solo play in mind, although even multiplayer has limited scope.
There are a couple of different modes across three difficulty levels in the game. The first allows an ad-hoc selection of any of the available unlocked games. The second is a more prolonged exposure, working through a series of tasks against the clock to gain points and respect from fellow gamers on the leaderboards.
Alongside painting shapes, other events include cutting hair with clipper, popping balloons, saving hatchlings by guiding them to their nests with desk fans, going Ghostbusters style with a torch or chopping up fruit with bladed implements. At first glance these sound like a lot of fun, but what Start the Party really lacks is content. Given the simplicity of most of the mini-games you’re left wanting and nine events begins to feel miniscule when compared to a title such as Warioware. It might have made more sense to release this title as a PSN download on the cheap.
You may be asking, haven’t I played all this sort of stuff before on the EyeToy? (Sony’s previous casually market grabbing outing). There is an extra dimension to the action here, as many of the games use depth along with up, down, left and right; it all feels very tight most of the time with little lag and movements on screen tracking that of the player’s are spot-on. Occasionally you get the impression that movement front to back, as in the harpoon fish busting game, isn’t always being tracked properly, but in conjunction the controller turning in to all sorts of silly implements it all gels together in this family friendly party package, if only for the occasional blast.
With support for up to four players, multiplayer is where things make more sense. It’s possible to battle with a bunch of mates across a ten-stage tournament mode, however with play being turn based, there’s a lot of sitting around waiting for a go with the glowing orb stick. Time must be filled in the interim by yelling obscenities at your friends, trying to point out how they’re doing it all wrong, or simply telling them that they suck at motion control games. As the camera underlay’s a live feed on to the TV screen, with game images placed over the top, it’s possible to see at all times just how silly you look holding a Move controller. On top of this Start the Party will take photographs at choice moments to extend the humiliation that little bit longer.
What Start the Party really lacks is any degree of depth, even for a mini-game collection. It does however show of the augmented reality and one-to-one control that Move allows. If you have a bunch of mates the game makes more sense, but as a single player experience it’s average and soon forgotten. Like many a pop song in the cut throat music industry, this title could end up being play once and stick it on the shelf to gather dust entity. Look out for this one in the bargain bins.
Marty has been gaming since the heady years of the ZX-81 and still owns most of the gaming systems purchased since those days, including the Atari 2600, ZX Spectrum, SNES, Jaguar, Dreamcast and GameCube. Being a collection junkie (or more accurately, hoarder), he buys more games than he can possibly play, far too many of which are still sealed in their packaging. Marty favours RPGs and Driving games when it comes to genres, and is possibly a little bit too addicted to Disgaea. When not gaming he’s out frightening OAPs on his motorcycle, clad in black leather.