Review by WishingTikal
"The Party is Over."
Yes I've owned several of those little virtual pets, played with them a lot, and still have them somewhere in the back of a dusty drawer. I remember the craze over Tamagotchi and the like, when all the kids at school had one. Years have passed, and although you don't hear about them anymore, they're still being made, and once in a while, a game based on the fad comes out in Japan. Today, Bandai brings us Tamagotchi Party On for Wii. It's not a simulation of a virtual pet this time, but a party board game. The party might be on for the Tamagotchi, but for most people, it'll be off.
Just like the cover art, the game itself is completely crazy. Off the wall characters with bizarre shapes, kawaii chirps and cries coming out of all corners -- a mix of outer weirdness and cuteness going on everywhere and with no end. The game does an excellent job at taking you into the fun of Tamagotchi world, but that's all the game succeeds in. We all know how a good party game works, just take Mario Party as the best example. Now throw a few Tamagotchi in the simplest board interface possible and you get Tamagotchi Party On. Roll the dice, select a path, stop on a space, then watch the CPU's turn -- and the game is all about watching the CPUs take turns. You're definitely not doing much in Tamagotchi Party On.
The game only has one board, but divided in six districts. When you start your turn, you can choose which way to go, not necessarily the same as everyone else. The goal of the game is to become the new president by accumulating the most popularity points. After you've rolled the dice by moving the wiimote, you'll be asked to choose a direction, which lets you see which space you'll land on beforehand. That way you can make the right decision, although I'd still prefer it being random. There are four main types of spaces; mini-game, gotchi game, event and shop. The mini-games fetch you popularity points while the gotchi games fetch money. The events are more random, they'll either make you lose points or gain some. And the shops obviously serve to buy items.
The main problem with the game is that you'll spend more time pressing A to skip dialogues and watching characters walk on the board than actually playing. Your turn barely lasts a minute, then you'll need to wait 5 minutes doing nothing. None of the mini-games are multiplayer, so all you do during someone else's turn is to watch him/her or the CPU play the mini-game. I suppose it's more fun to play with three friends, but my experience playing with three CPUs was long and tedious. Even the turns you take aren't all that exciting. Toss the dice, select the space, then most of the time you fall on an event space, in which case all you do is watch a little scene and skip some dialogue. So you can go several turns without even playing a mini-game. This means a couple of turns doing nothing. I felt like I was losing my time while supposedly playing since I watched the computer play more than I played.
Even the mini-games aren't even very good, so really, the game doesn't have much to its benefit. The mini-games are extremely simplistic, mostly move the wiimote left or right, up or down, twist it around, for goals such as tossing an acorn, picking up ice cream, catching fish, jumping on balloons, and stuff of the like. Some are pretty fun, but the controls are unfortunately quite unresponsive. I was doing the right movements at the right time, but somehow the game wasn't registering it properly, thus making me lose whilst I should be winning. This problem is very frequent and the game also doesn't give you clear indications as to how to play the mini-games, so you'll spend a lot of time trying to figure out how it works before actually getting points from the mini-games. This is rather frustrating after playing other Wii titles that use the wiimote's motion system far better.
There is a little strategy that comes into play if you want to win, like winning enough money to buy items to remodel your headquarters, which gives you a bonus on the popularity points you win, but that whole thing takes so much time that it's not really worth it. The smallest game you can pick is seven turns, and even that feels extremely long, and you'll need a lot more turns than seven to arrange your headquarter. You could basically spend a whole day on the longest game (50 turns - which is 25 hours - and yes the game does offer it -- now go wonder why anyone sane would deliberately pick this) to try and win, but why would you? The game only rewards you with badges that serve no purpose, and most of the unlockable characters are simply unlocked by playing, no need to win. Add to this that the game only holds 15 mini-games, which is kind of weak for a party game. You'll be done with it within a day.
It's the sort of game kids might like. It's simplistic, but kids want to get in the action, not watch others take turns. The game's presentation is colorful and definitely aimed towards a younger audience, with a cel-shaded artstyle that suits the game well. It's probably the ugliest cel-shading I've ever seen, but that seems to be what the game is going for, an unpolished look. The music is perfect for the game as well, just as quirky as it needs to be. It gets on the nerves quickly, but then again, that's what the game wants. The whole game wants you screaming "what the heck?" with its silliness.
So what should you retain from this? If you're invited to a Tamagotchi party, don't go. You're better off dusting off your old Tamagotchi from your closet than to play this game. There is a sort of crazy bewitchment going for the game, and there are a few fun mini-games that will appeal to kids, but there isn't enough content and gameplay to justify the price (and a game with mini-games that don't play well is definitely not recommended). If you want to play a party game, turn to Mario Party 8 or even Rayman Raving Rabbids.
Reviewer's Rating: 1.5 - Bad
Originally Posted: 07/31/07, Updated 01/23/08
Game Release: Tamagotchi Party On! (US, 05/29/07)
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