Squeeballs Party
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2009-12-02 Wii Mini-games E10 (Everyone 10+) PDP

The Wii has unfortunately been type-cast to the point that if a new game doesn't fit into the realm of animal or lifestyle simulation, it's more than likely associated with mini-games. As the console's library already contains more of these games than any one person would ever require, it becomes difficult to sort through the mass of titles to find ones actually worth your time. When looking at Squeeballs Party, you find an undeniable originality of theme that makes it stand out from the rest, but it'll be up to each individual participant as to whether the game's characters are worth experiencing the same basic gameplay ideology found elsewhere.

Squeeballs Party has eleven main games to choose from, with most being expected entries in the scope of mini-game compilations. There's a traditional bowling game (that plays almost identically to bowling in Wii Sports), and a skewed take on the sport that has you controlling the ball's left and right movement on a curved, obstacle filled lane by pointing the Wii Remote to the left and ride sides of the screen.

Other game examples include "Cannon," which is a nod to tennis (Squeeballs are randomly launched from a cannon towards the screen, allowing you to pummel them) that contains challenges both for hitting distance and accuracy, "Cooking," which is along the lines of Cooking Mama, and has you mincing and frying hot dogs, soups and more for El Toro, the giant bull Squeeball (the fact that the meals are made from Squeeballs leads to some rather interesting animations and sound effects), and "Paint By Squeeballs," which has you using your Wii-Remote as a sling-shot, sending Squeeballs onto a canvas where they splatter into appropriately colored paints, filling in the black and white outline.

The vast majority of the mini-games are locked at first, forcing you to play through Challenge Ladders in order to unlock them. These ladders task you with playing each mini-game once or twice in a row, until you have played them all, and unlock an additional game. You then start another ladder, including this new game, until you have played all of those and unlock yet another. Obviously, then, each ladder is longer than the last, as each has an additional handful of challenges to complete.

Unfortunately, along the way to unlock all of the main games, the original few take on a feeling of repetition, rather than fresh enjoyment, as you are tasked with playing them each time you wish to unlock one of the other games. Luckily, the goal for each individual attempt is different than the last, creating, technically, 150+ games to partake in. However, the differences tend to deal with completing a task with a certain number of points or by using a set amount of pieces (hit two spares using the maximum of four bowling balls, hit Squeeballs into the appropriately colored areas on the bullseye to earn a top score, etc.).

This variety offers an increased challenge in each game almost instantly. What starts as something like "knock down 20 pins with 8 balls" turns into hitting a strike on your first try, or, as another example, the simplistic cooking challenges that have you shaking the Wii Remote to chop a carrot suddenly turn into complex arrangements, where chopping, grinding, frying and more are required to complete each timed meal.

There is a genuine humor found here, with the Squeeballs themselves being easily comparable to the Happy Tree Friends, in that they are wild and violent - they enjoy the suffering of other Squeeballs, and the game presents said suffering in the same cartoon-y, yet still slightly disturbing fashion as the aforementioned Happy Tree Friends show.

While the games themselves offer varying degrees of entertainment, the real amusement here lies in the Squeeballs as characters. With a different coat of paint, the game would be altogether average, so it's fortunate that PDP chose to stick with the humorous, morbid take that they did. Still, if you aren't easily amused by the Squeeballs' antics, the repetition may quickly take its toll.

Visually speaking, the graphics are surprisingly fantastic; the cutscenes, albeit short, are of some of the highest quality I've seen on the Wii to date, and help to give the Squeeballs an added element of personality. However, this is actually a bit of a double-edged sword, as once you've come to love the Squeeballs as the humorous little creatures that they are, it makes their deaths all the more gruesome. But I digress.

If you are in the market specifically for a party game, Squeeballs Party is a decent way to go, and would definitely be more highly recommended if it contained more variety within the eleven main games, or in single-player incentives. Unfortunately, however, the game is really only suitable for the multiplayer arena, as the single-player experience just doesn't hold much weight after you've used it to unlock the full lineup, and only then for groups of gamers that have limited experience with the genre.

Special thanks to Marina Renneke and PDP for providing a copy of this title.