Much like the EyeToy: Play games that were released for the PlayStation 2, Start the Party is a collection of minigames that you play by moving your arms around in front of the TV. The main difference here is that the PS2 games required only an EyeToy camera to play, whereas Start the Party requires both the newer PlayStation Eye camera and a Move motion controller. You can see yourself onscreen at all times while playing, and it's great that the motion controller in your hand appears to take on a different form for each minigame. There's fun to be had here, especially for younger players, but it doesn't take long for the same minigames to start repeating and for Start the Party to feel overpriced at $40 as a result.
There aren't many different minigames in Start the Party, but they're fun and at least varied enough that you rarely feel like you're doing the same thing from one activity to the next. One moment, you're using an oversized toothbrush to clean the inside of a crocodile's gaping mouth; the next, you're using a fan to guide falling chicks safely into nests on either side of the screen. Later, you're swiping a sword across the screen to slice fruits and vegetables, and when the sword is replaced with a pickaxe, you use it to chisel away at rocks to reveal gems hidden within. There are brief tutorials available for all of these minigames, but most are so intuitive that you won't need them--even if you're with friends who have never played before.
Unsurprisingly, Start the Party is best enjoyed in multiplayer. Up to four of you share the same motion controller and can choose to play five, eight, or 10 competitive rounds. Then, before the action starts, each of you takes a photo of yourself and records your name so that both can be used to let you know when it's your turn. This is a nice touch that the game occasionally has some fun with, either by letting you doodle on another player's photo or record a new name for another player between rounds. Start the Party also changes up the scoring system between rounds from time to time, so while most minigames simply award five points to the winner and then fewer to everyone else, occasionally you get teamed up with another player or find yourself in a winner-takes-all scenario. Furthermore, in designated "robber rounds," you have the opportunity to steal points from other players, which is just one way that Start the Party ensures everyone has at least some chance of winning when you go into the final round.
Other than choosing how many rounds you want to play and how many of you are playing on which of the three difficulty levels, the only other option in multiplayer is to either have your minigames selected randomly or to choose them yourself from a list of just nine. That same option is available to you in solo play, where the lack of competition means that the action gets old fast. A much better (and incidentally, your only other) option for solo play is Survival mode. Here, an energy bar of sorts starts out full and indicates how much time you have left to play. If you fail to complete an objective by dropping a topping that you're trying to catch on a pizza base, for example, you lose time. If you complete an objective successfully, though, such as waking up a sleeping bird by frantically ringing a bell, you add valuable seconds. The game is over when you have no time remaining, at which point your overall survival time is entered onto a leaderboard.
Start the Party's three different difficulty levels that can be selected for individual players, so you can handicap parents who are playing with young children, for example. The problem with Start the Party, though, is that--regardless of who is playing--you're unlikely to make it through more than one or two five-to-10-round games before you decide that it's time to either play something else or to get the actual party started. With its colorful presentation, instantly accessible minigames, and responsive controls, Start the Party really doesn't do much wrong; the problem is just that it doesn't do enough. If you're looking for a game to entertain the family for an hour on a holiday, Start the Party fits the bill. But if you're looking for something to play more than a handful of times a year and is fun to play on your own, as well as with friends, this isn't the party for you.