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Wii Party U Review: Nintendo’s first party on the Wii U ends before curfew

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Nintendo caught lightning in a bottle with “Wii Sports” in 2006 selling a record 80 million copies.

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You know what they say about catching it twice.

Although the mega publisher had success with “Wii Sports: Resort,” other similar mini-game collections have felt like shallow compilations of tech demos.

Nintendo’s newest addition to the genre, “Wii Party U,” isn’t exactly as bad as “Wii Play,” but to put it in the same category as “Wii Sports” is a bit of a stretch. Although it has plenty of redeemable qualities and a host of options, the magic Nintendo was looking to garner in this mini-game compilation comes up a tad short.

80 mini-games and a host of gameplay modes make it almost impossible to get bored of “Wii Party U.” There’s plenty to do and experience. If you’re with a group of friends, one night won’t be enough time to do it. For that reason alone, “Wii Party U” manages to keep your attention for far longer than many of the other unsuccessful mini-game-themed titles on the console. Add in a bundled Wii U controller and the complete package has undeniable value.

At the same time, there’s something missing. The endearing characters aside (the game’s host and friends are absolutely adorable) and trademarked Nintendo allure cannot cover up the lack of depth of many of the games. For the most part, many of the mini-games show you all of their working parts after a playthrough or two, making plowing through the rest of the game’s other features a much speedier process. Had a few more games possessed moderate staying power, “Wii U Party” could have connected with far more gamers than the party crowd Nintendo tends to gravitate towards for these games.

What “Wii Party U” does right is the tablet-based games. Two-player games such as Fooseball and Baseball work perfectly with two players. Despite the fact that they are uber simple and somewhat repetitive, they really fire up one’s competitive juices. The same way games in “Wii Sports” can turn your grandmother into a gaming god, the tabletop mini-games in “Wii Party U” don’t disappoint.

Even the weaker tablet games, which require you to use the device’s gyro to get a ball or a character through a maze, are ingenious enough to keep your attention through multiple plays. It in the end, that’s what “Wii Party U” needed more of.

Regardless of how adult and veteran gamers could find these games a tad vanilla after a few hours, small children and non-gamers will absolutely eat them up. The button-mashing sensibilities, mixed with the "House Party" mentality the game serves up create an environment for fun that Nintendo has forged their legacy on for over three decades. In spite of the lack of games that truly mesmerize, the large amount of games by itself and the addition of another Wii U controller make it an entry into the Wii U catalog that any family would be hard-pressed not to try.

Pros:

A Ton of Games to Choose From: Regardless of if you’re by yourself or hosting a party, “Wii U Party” has something for everyone. Children and non-traditional gamers in particular will enjoy the game the most.

Games Use Tablet in Intriguing Ways: Tabletop Baseball and Fooseball may be the best reasons to play “Wii Party U.” The tablet screen’s size and dual analog stick makes it perfect for two players. The simple presentation and addictive gameplay in these games are one of “Wii Party U’s” most redeeming qualities.

Plenty of Ways to Play Alone: Even the tabletop games mentioned above can be played against the computer, which ensures you don’t have to be in a party setting to enjoy the simple, yet addictive gameplay some of the games provide. The multiplayer board game as well can be played in single-player.

Cons:

Games Lack Depth: Much like “Wii Sports” and “Wii Play,” there isn’t much to the games. They’re simple and repetitive and loose their luster after a few hours, even faster if you’re alone. If you’re the type of person who plays the Wii U solo, this most likely isn’t a game you’ll get engrossed in.

Graphics Are Still Wii-esque: While the visuals aren’t important to the overall gameplay experience, the graphics haven’t been updated in a way that shows off the enhanced Wii U graphical ability over the Wii. Seen side-by-side with other Wii mini-game collections the likes of “Wii Sports,” it’s hard to tell the difference.

3/5 stars

*This review was made possible in part to an early review copy of the game provided by Nintendo.

“Wii Party U” is set for an October 25 release.

For all of our latest exclusives, previews, reviews and features, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. Game On.

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