Start the Party is a launch game for Sony’s PlayStation Move controller, and one of the first to utilize both the controller and the PlayStation Eye camera. Technically, all games require both— with the Eye being required to track the Move controller — but unlike other games, Start the Party puts players directly into their televisions. It’s this augmented reality that first caught our attention, but like the ADD-plagued masses, we wanted our games short, fast, and easily accessible. Fortunately for us, Start the Party offers just that.
This game is best played with a group. Actually, it’s best played with a group of kids. If you are a parent with kids between the ages of four and 12, this may provide the perfect Saturday evening family-time entertainment. However, if you are looking for a party game in the realm of Rock Band or Buzz Quiz World, you’re going to find that Start the Party will only do one thing well: make your guests question your videogame taste, and empty your shindig after a few rounds of this repetitive endeavour.
Start the Party doesn’t come equipped with a ton of mini-games, but they are at least mildly varied and easily accessible. There’s tutorial for each game, but unless you’ve never played a videogame in your life, you can learn on your own. The Move controller turns into different objects depending on the game you play. One moment it turns into a paintbrush, the next moment it’s a flashlight that can zap ghosts. The controller turns into a rock pick to smash stones in pursuit of gems, or it’s an electric razor and you must quickly give bizarre looking creators a quick haircut.
The game is not bogged down by diverse gameplay modes. In fact, there is only a couple for both multiplayer and single-player. Since this is a party game, we’ll start with the multiplayer mode. Up to four players will share one Move controller (that’s right, there are no events that allow you to compete with friends at the same time). You’ll choose between five, eight or 10 rounds consisting of the various mini-games. To give your specific competition a bit of personality, players get to take snap photos of themselves using the Eye and record a little voice over that is used when it’s their turn to play. You can have a lot of fun with this part of the game, especially during Joker Rounds. During these bonus rounds, players can alter their opponent’s photo or recorded voice. This part of the game will likely lead to some good laughs. The competition heats up during Robber Rounds, which are events that allow players to steal points from one another.
You are given three difficulty settings (the hard setting is actually challenging, even for adults), and you can opt to pick your own mini-games, or have them randomly placed during your session. In the single-player session, you can either pick from one of the nine mini-games (and more, but even smaller mini-games in multiplayer), or take part in the Survival mode. This mode is really the only option for those seeking a reason to play Star the Party more than once. In the Survival mode, you must race through as many of the mini-games as you can in a set time. If you are successful during a mini-game, you’ll add seconds to your timer, but if you fail, you lose time.
The mini-games include Parachute Panic, which tasks you with rescuing parachuting little critters. The Move controller turns into a fan, and you must help guide thee parachutists safely to moving rafts. A shark pops up occasionally to try and swallow your little friends. This is probably the weakest use of Move, and it turned out to be more of an annoyance than enjoyable.
Poppin’ falls victim to the same fate as Parachute Panic. In theory the Move controller works well, but it’s not so great in this mini-game that has you popping different colored balloons with a spike. You are supposed to jab forward, like the balloons are in front of you, but it feels a bit awkward and is not always as responsive as we would have liked.
Most of the other games perform quite well and make good use of the Move controller. Cut ‘n’ Color turns your controller into an electric razor. You use it to give haircuts to these odd looking creatures. We struggled to get this mini-game to work at first (as it turned out, we were too far away from the Eye), but after a while, we grew to really enjoy this mini-game.
Overall, Start the Party offers just what you’d expect from a Move launch title. Even though Sony’s motion controller works competently across some of the mini-games on offer, once the initial “wow, I’m on TV and I’m holding a paintbrush” wares off, this will probably find itself in the used bin at your local game shop. It’s not a horrible launch game by any stretch of the imagination, but there is really no replay value, unless you want to punish your family or friends during the holidays.
-The Final Word-
Start the Party offers a small set of mini-games designed to draw you directly into your television. While it may provide some fun for a small gathering of people, there are not enough mini-games to make you return for a second round.
|Platforms reviewed : PlayStation 3|