At D3's press event in San Francisco, we had the opportunity to play almost half of the minigames in Family Party: 30 Great Games. The games are similar to what you would see in a Japanese game show, so there were bridges to fall from, paper to jump through, and, of course, giant blue helmets to protect everyone's noggins should they lose their balance. Up to four players can abuse each other in these minigames, so we jumped right in to see what this game had to offer.
There is a single-player Challenge mode where you'll play a random set of games so that you can unlock all the minigames for Battle mode. Because all the games were unlocked, we were able to jump straight into the battle and pick our character profile, which ranged from a guy in a dogsuit to a really old grandmother named Sophia. There are 12 character profiles to choose from, three of which you have to unlock. Some of the characters look quite ridiculous in their outfits, which only add to the flavor and theme of the game.
In Battle mode, we were able to select six games at a time, so you can play them consecutively without having to jump around menus. There are five themed areas: muscle, athletic, castle, shooting, and variety. Some of the minigames required that you use the same controls, but from the games we played, there seemed to be a decent selection of random challenges to keep you on your toes. There were a couple of minigames that involved running by shaking the Wii Remote up and down. You can use the A button to either jump over hurdles and gaps in the platform or the B button to jump through a wall of paper. There was a minigame that had you holding the Wii Remote sideways where you alternated between the D pad and the 2 button to get your character to walk across a teetering platform. There was another game that was similar, but instead of racing to the end, each player takes turns crossing the bridge while the other players fire cannonballs at you. You do have a shield to block, but depending on how accurate your opponents are, you can get knocked off completely. The trick is to just keep moving because it's always more difficult to hit a moving target.
A few games that we came across required using a bit of brainpower rather than wiggling the remote. There was a counting game where the counter went up to five, and you have to count to 10 in your head then swing the Wii Remote downward while holding A to stop your counter. It gets harder because the next two rounds involve counting to 20 and then 30, but you only get a five-second counter to get you started. You can try to fake out your opponent by just swinging the remote, but you're better off focusing on counting. There was a bird-counting game where you had to count the number of different birds that flew across the screen. Each time you see one, you can click the counter, but you have to remember which species you've seen before.
Family Party: 30 Great Games looks to be a silly and entertaining collection of minigames, although it's hard to compete against other games that have at least twice the number. The controls aren't as tight as they should be, and the visuals are fairly simplistic. But it's still early, so we hope to see some changes before the game is released. Family Party is scheduled to come out by the end of the year.