Before the game arrived on my doorstep I was unacquainted with the cute squishies known as Squeeballs. The animal-like little guys are apparently tailor made for destruction, and it’s about the time you’re tossing them into a meat grinder that things get kind of weird. OK, there’s no gore, but the concept is macabre enough. E for Everyone or not, it’s best if you don’t think too hard on it and just subject the little guys to the tortures designed for them across the game’s 11 mini-games.
The quirky take on mini-games doesn’t go very far in distinguishing Squeeballs Party from other mini-game collections. You can play by yourself – if you must – with a challenge ladder and progress through the increasingly difficult tasks in the mini-games to unlock yet more challenges. It’s a fun way to learn the ropes, and the varying objectives aim to keep things fresh, but at this point if you can’t effectively complete a bowling or tennis mini-game on the Wii then you may as well give up on life.
Multi-player for friends and family is the game’s wheelhouse. Up to four players can join in, and the customizable play lists are a great feature. OK, there are a lot of similarities to other mini-game collections, which really just says more about the hardware than the games themselves. It turns out that Wii motion controls really translate best when you’re pretending to bowl, golf, or generally hit and throw things.
The Cannon game has you whacking Squeeballs fired from a cannon in some one-sided tennis, and the bowling game tasks you with knocking down pins topped with Squeeballs. The cooking challenge is a fun, er, homage to Cooking Mama though the left to right flick was occasionally finicky. The freshest of the game mechanics is the slingshot painting, which functions a bit like archery in Wii Sports Resort. Take aim, and draw your WiiMote back to prepare for launch and achieve a larger pain splatter. Otherwise, you’ve effectively gone through the motions before. The Shock mini-game is just ridiculous, in the not cool way. Requiring players to slide a metal ring down an electrified wire is completely unmanageable for kids – and for the non-gaming adults the Wii seems to target.
Other than the shock game the controls are forgiving enough that it works in groups familiar with Wii controls and novices alike. The graphics and sound aren’t particularly impressive but I appreciate the bright palette, the fittingly cartoony aesthetic and the animations. Cinematics are fun, the interface is great, and the Squeeballs are the highlight – it’s too bad you are out to get them. Other than a shared desire to splatter the walls with Squeeball guts, I’m not sure what brings this game together.
As a party game it’s cheery, accessible, clear in its objectives and pretty much appropriate for young and old alike (unless, of course, you object to using the Squeeballs as test subjects in your sadistic games). If you want a new collection of mini-games to play with the family or friends then Squeeballs Party will satisfy, but you’re likely to forget it once the party’s over. It’s cute, it’s a little strange, and with the exception of the Shock game, Squeeballs Party works – but with so many mini-game mechanics that have been done before it relies primarily on the charm of the little Squeeballs. The mini-games do introduce different objectives to spice things up, but it’s just not enough. Without friends to revel in the absurdity Squeeballs Party won’t hold your attention.
This review based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher.