So, we’ve had the obligatory sports title for the PlayStation Move, but now it’s time for the obligatory party game. Cast your mind back to 2003 when the original EyeToy was launched for the PS2, and sugar coated games like this were in ready supply, namely in the ancient EyeToy: Play series.
As the title (complete with unnecessary exclamation mark!) may suggest, Start the Party! is a collection of party mini-games that cater to the family-friendly audience that has kept the Wii surviving all these years, and it plays much in the same vein as the aforementioned EyeToy games, but with the added benefit of Move’s supreme motion technology.
Start the Party! screams “cutesy party game” from the very outset – if the cartoony visuals and infantile sound effects of flatulence don’t make you cringe, then the inane announcer who drones out one-liners with enforced enthusiasm probably will. A short trip to the options menu is therefore mandatory in order to mute him before your guests think twice about what they’re letting themselves in for.
It is technically possible to play Start the Party! alone, but that would defy the real point as this is clearly a game principally designed to be played with groups of friends and a hefty supply of beverages of the alcohol variety. As such, Start the Party! includes nine central mini games with additional quick-fire rounds added in for good measure, and each of these can either be played at your leisure or in random quick-fire rounds against the clock as part of the Survival mode for single players.
Up to four players can compete against each other in any of these mini-games in a choice of five, eight or ten rounds, but it is sadly restricted to alternating rounds where you pass the controller rather than simultaneous head-to-head gameplay. It still works, and things can get competitive since points are allocated on a star-based system, but it still would have been more ideal if more players could become involved. It’s fortunate, then, that each game usually doesn’t last more than 30 seconds, so the waiting time is minimal.
Each player is required to snap a picture of their smug mug which makes it impossible not to pull the cheesiest grin your muscles can muster. From here, your photo will be placed onto a bizarre walking television to be used as your avatar throughout the game, and you are then asked to provide your name as a recorded voice sample.
After starting a game, you start by awkwardly staring at yourself on-screen before marvelling at the Move’s ability to magically super-impose objects into your hand. Before you know it, you’re wielding everything from fly swatters and torches to paintbrushes and frying pans. It’s a novel touch that really immerses you into the game, as you feel like you are trapped inside a cartoon – it will certainly be interesting to see how developers adopt this ability in the future as it opens a realm of possibilities.
There are some clear highlights in Start the Party’s collection of wacky mini-games. Picture This, for example, sticks a paintbrush in your hand and asks you to hastily fill in on-screen shapes (it’s amusing to shout “you’re meant to colour inside the lines!” to your struggling competitor) which then combine to render a crudely drawn picture of a spaceship or something. Make a hash of it, and your final masterpiece will be a scribbled mess that looks nothing like the intended picture, causing your friends to laugh at your pitiful failings.
Spooky Shootout and Cut and Colour also stand out, with Spooky Shootout tasking you with eliminating ghosts using a torch and Cut and Colour placing you in the role of a barber, whereby you have to follow the prompted hairstyle and shave their head accordingly whilst battling against the clock, which can prove tricky. Blown Away sees you guiding hapless chicks to safety by guiding them with an electric fan – I found it much more enjoyable and rewarding to massacre them with the virtual blades of the fan in a shower of flying feathers, however.
As with most games of this nature, there are some mini-games that are less appealing, however. Rooftop Rescue, whereby you have to rescue civilians from a monster attack by piloting a helicopter, is a bit too fiddly, and Poppin’ suffers from a similar problem as you have to harpoon coloured bubbles with the Move controller by positioning it towards the screen. The worst game by a country mile has to go to Parachute Panic, however – a group of parachutists need to be floated to safety, and to do this you must mindlessly wave your controller around like a prized pillock as it acts like a giant fan. Honestly, it really is as fun as it sounds.
Start the Party! attempts to keeps things varied by switching between a slew of additional mini challenges including a Whack-A-Mole-esque round and a game that involves you haplessly catching toppings for a pizza. Special achievements to rile rival players are also awarded, such as the ability to steal their stars. Brilliantly, the game even allows you to deface their avatar by giving you free reign to draw whatever you wish on their photo in special Joker Rounds – crudely drawn genitalia is of course irresistible. Upon winning a round, the winner’s avatar performs a smug victory dance allowing the person next to you to gloat at your feeble defeat, and you are finally treated to a photo montage of various points of the game to laugh at each other’s bemused expressions.
Start the Party’s roster of mini-games are undeniably fun and will cause a few chuckles when played in a group for the first time, but the novelty soon wears off due to the basic nature and limited quantity of mini-games available. Yes, each game is short to keep up the pace of the match, but sadly it is unlikely you will want to replay them more than a few times.
All in all, Start the Party! is a fun but ultimately thin slice of undiluted fun that shows what the Move can do, but it’s difficult to justify splashing out £25 for a shallow set of nine throwaway mini-games that you are likely to quickly tire of.
Stay tuned for more PlayStation Move coverage this week on Gamer Limit!
The visuals evoke a decidedly cartoony, childish style but are otherwise unspectacular.
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The Move controller creates some novel scenarios by superimposing cartoon objects into your hand, but each mini-game is ultimately primitive in design.
The constant party sound effects soon grate, and the announcer has to be turned off as soon as possible at all costs.
With only nine central mini-games that don't last very long, there isn't much incentive to keep coming back for more.
You can't go far wrong for some cheap multiplayer laughs with Start the Party! but there simply isn't enough long-lasting content to warrant the asking price.