There's nothing wrong with a good party game. Being able to compete against friends, either in a board game variety or through a number of mini-games, can be a blast, especially if you have someone pulling off a come-from-behind victory. For years, Nintendo has been acing this genre with its Mario Party series, but it's got something a little different in mind for the Wii U.
In Wii Party U, you'll compete with friends using both the Wii U GamePad and three additional Wii remotes, taking part in not only entertaining mini-games that utilize all four controllers at once, but also traditional tabletop games, ranging from air hockey to football to baseball. Plus, it also has something to offer to solo players, a rare feat for party games these days.
We managed to get an early look at the game, and some of the activities that are involved, and we can happily say that they're quite ranged. Even if you don't want to play on the TV at all, you can have friends facing off against one another on the GamePad in various activities. For instance, the aforementioned air hockey lets players drag their fingers across the screen, guarding their goal from incoming pucks while taking shots of their own. There's also quite enjoyable foosball-style soccer game, but instead of having players lined up in rows, you've got them scattered all over the field, allowing you to set up the game-winning kick with a hint of strategy.
It's not just limited to sports, either. Another activity works similarly to the classic Twister game, but without the need to contort your body on a multi-colored mat. Instead, you line up the GamePad on top and three Wii controllers on the bottom, then take turns having players hold down buttons on each one. Whoever gives up their grip first wins the round. It's interesting – and hilarious – to see just how many buttons and functions you can get away with holding.
Where Wii Party U shines is with the games that involve the GamePad, controllers and the TV. One game that we were shown was "Lost-and-Found." In this fun little activity, you'll have one player holding the GamePad, with their Mii character hiding somewhere in a crowded playground. Using descriptions based upon their surroundings, the player with the GamePad tries to convince the others where he or she is, without giving too much away. It's like a modern version of Where's Waldo?, but with far greater interactivity.
If you're not the searching type, there are plenty of action-based games in Wii U Party as well. One that's a real stand-out is Operation Sandbox, a mini-game that may remind classic gamers of the tank game in the Atari 2600 game Combat. The person with the GamePad controls a large tank, chasing after the smaller tanks that the other players control with the remotes. As you might guess, the larger tank has more firepower behind it, able to eliminate enemies with one shot. The other three players will need to team up with each other in order to bring down the big tank, then, if any of them are left, contend with each other until only one person is left standing. This is sure to be a favorite with many players in the game.
There are other games as well. Name That Face is a humorous 70's style game show where the GamePad holder makes a facial prompt – using their real face, mind you – and the others have to guess from four selections to see what the true expression is. This makes fine use of the Wii U camera, and provides you a number of interesting choices for prompts.
There's also Zigzaggurat, where the GamePad player drops pieces on three characters on a limited playfield, and the goal is to either survive on the playfield or skoosh all the players to win. Think of it as Tetris, but with people in the way.
These are just small examples of the games included with Wii Party U, but you can see where the diversity of gameplay is simply staggering. Whether you prefer something simple with the GamePad or a tremendously funny game where all four players are involved, this Party has something to offer for everyone. The fact that you can associates your wins – and your losses – to a certain Mii character adds a personal touch as well.
It's probably a good idea to call your friends ahead of time, because Wii Party U will arrive on both in retail form and on the Wii U eShop on October 25th.