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Too Much Partying; Time for Some More Serious Titles
Published on August 20, 2007 By iTZKooPA In Console Games
Here goes nothing. Another futile attempt to catch my game reviewing habits up to my gameplaying habits. I swear I am almost there and with this triple-dose of Wii love coming at you I will be only one (although probably two games) away from being even. Upon Wii's launch I picked up two games, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which I have failed to play much of and Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz, which I am still working on unlocking the extra levels to. Just two weeks later (aka a paycheck cycle) I picked up the first of game for today's review, Marvel Ultimate Alliance.

As noted in my Wii wrap-up a few weeks ago, I managed to pick-up the Wii with all the trimmings so myself and three friends were able to bust into Marvel Ultimate Alliance together and begin slaughtering hordes of baddies. I had played the game a few weeks before on the Xbox360 and felt that the title's graphics were just wrong although I liked what I saw game-wise. As Imentioned before I enjoyed the previous iterations of the series but didn't feel that the next-gen version warranted an extra $10 when I could get the added Wii control functionality at the normal price of $50.

So first things first, how did the controls perform? I mean I am on a Wii and I just mentioned that its control scheme was a selling point to me...To be honest the Wii's controls just changed part of the game from button-mashing into hand-movement-spamming. I think we need to coin a term for that one, lets call it Wii-induced-flailing. Ironically no matter which platform you decided to play the game on you were gonna be doing a lot of the same movement, over and over so it doesn't matter either way except to my waistline. My biggest problem with the control scheme was the use of the special powers, you had to hit the B button and then shake according to the given direction or just hit A for the item that was pre-selected. The game wasn't optimized enough and all of us kept doing the wrong spell so much that we just set our main 'special' attack to the A button, and hardly ever used the other powers. Again the game was pretty easy so it wasn't a big deal that we weren't up to our full potential. It would have saved us from the one wipe we had most likely but we all just played that on the gaming newbie who was over.

Clunky special abilities aside the story was just off the wall, even for an RPG, even for a comic-book RPG. The original two titles followed a more generic story line, but of course they where just X-men games so they stuck to that universe. Well since they were in the universe of Marvel in this game they just threw everything together it seems, and in no particular order. I have never been a die-hard comic book fan but I did read my fair share. It wasn't that the story was just off the wall, it was that it was all over the place. Seriously it went from different planets to dimensions, hell I think we were even in Hell at one point as well as under water. Seriously is was just batty.

I beat this game a few months ago so the details aren't the best but by the end we jut wanted to get the game over with so we could move on. The trudging threw the game got so bad that we completely stopped following the story that we had made a pointed effort to follow at the start.

If you enjoyed the other games in the series then by all means give it a whirl, but I wouldn't recommend picking it up at full price. If you want a good co-op and/or RPG experience on the Wii that's another excuse because there aren't many out yet, otherwise I would avoid the title unless you can get it for <$20-$30.

Next up would be the first straight up party game that I have purchased for Wii, WarioWare: Smooth Moves. I was extremely excited for this game and all of my friends knew it, so much so that one of them purchased it for my birthday, well more like an IOU since it came out after my birthday. Anyways upon its release we had another little party not unlike the Wii's launch itself. Its unfortunate in a way that we managed to beat WarioWare in just a few hours but it was a boatload of fun. Luckily I knew that even though we finished the single-player campaign/story mode there was still a lot more that the game had to offer, including its multiplayer setups and other mini-games that we didn't get a chance to play yet.

For anyone who has played any of the Wario-based mini-game titles you know its not about graphics or sound but about the style, quirky humor and quick-wits that are needed to fully appreciate and beat the game. The mini-games aren't hard by any means but since you have almost no explanation of what to do they can take an attempt or two to figure out. The introduction of the Wiimote has diversified the games greatly, causing them to become a bit more difficult. No longer will hitting the A button at the appropriate time save you from certain failure. Instead almost every game has you using the new functionality in some capacity. From using it as an elephant trunk, driving a car, all the way to guiding the body parts of some ill-fated puppet, the controller manages to do it all.

Developer Intelligent Systems definitely created another solid title, that I want to call the best in the series but can't quite bring myself to doing so. Even the story mode is worth going through in this iteration with its crazy characters and insane introductions to the way the Wiimote should be held. Smooth Moves worst drawback is the almost complete lack of simultaneous multiplayer. There are a few minigames that do allow simultaneous play including the oddly fun (although only for a few attempts) 'Bungie Buddies' but there is no simultaneous multiplayer settings as seen in the Gamecube version, WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Party Game$! which allowed 2 or more players to play against each other in eight very different modes. I don't understand why they didn't follow-up that multiplayer experience, technically I can't see any reason why they wouldn't have at least tried. Its this one limiting factor that holds me back from definitely calling it the best title in the series. If you are looking for a new party compilation (there are SOOO many on the Wii nowadays, and a lot of them suck) or want a fun way to introduce people to the system then this is a great starting point, and if you can get it on the cheap that would be even better naturally but full price is warranted.

Lastly comes a game from a series that I have rarely supported. This is worth noting because usually when I get into a series I go into it full force, buying any previous games (for example, the saga and reverse playing of the aforementioned Marvel RPG series) and completing them as well as getting psyched up for new entries. That said the Mario Party series has really been hit or miss with me, I have always thought that they have a lot of needlessly slow gameplay and downtime that could have been cut out very easily. Ever since my brother introduced me to the series (a rare feet that I can't remember being duplicated since then) I have kept my eye on it but only actually purchased four of the series' 10+ titles if I remember correctly, Mario Party 1-4 until the purchase of the Wii edition, Mario Party 8 which now makes five.

Unlike the previous iterations I was pretty excited for the release of Mario Party 8. I figured that with the addition of the Wiimote a lot of good things would happen to the mini-games, much along the same lines as WarioWare. Unfortunately Hudson Soft didn't pull of the jump to Wii as well as Intelligent Systems has. One of my and many other people's complaints about the MP series is that the title's haven't changed or innovated that much since the beginning. Even with the addition of the nifty Wii controls the series still managed to stay flat, repetitive and as slow as ever. The games are largely the same, just tweaked to be controlled by the Wiimote, but theres no consistency. The racing games all have different controls, some use the Wiimote as the wheel, others you hold it like a standard controller. The controls just seem very poorly designed, and little innovation was added to them or the main gameplay as a whole.

It really seemed that the only innovative thing the game brought to the series were the interesting boards. The single player campaign introduces them using the general Mario formula, meaning Bowser stole something from the Mario crew, along with the pitfalls or special features of each board. The boards are often drastically different from one another, changing the way you need to obtain stars from purchasing to squishing opponents to investing in them (SUB-PRIME MORTGAGES FTW!). The huge differences in the board types really extend the titles replayability past what I expected such a mediocre title to have. Other than that the only other major change was a switch from the capsule power-ups to having players collect and use candy, this change is explained indirectly in the single-player campaign.

I certainly have not given Mario Party 8 a glowing review. The series has never really captivated me but this has certainly brought the interest in the series back for me. If Hudson can put together MP9 with some more diversified games that use the Wii's largest defining feature then I will probably be back for a double dip. Cause in all honestly MP8 just plays like they were testing out the waters of the Wii's capabilities and the inconsistencies in the mini-games would be an example of that. Here's to hoping that if MP9 doesn't benefit from it, then Bomberman Wii will (online multiplayer too please!). Paying full price for MP8 seems a little nuts to me but if you are a huge fan of the series or want a slower paced party title then this might just be what you are looking for.

The next Wii title I will be getting is a title my brother introduced me too (geez it finally happened a second time) last weekend. Seeing as I am rebuilding my house I haven't been able to spend any money, or time even, as freely as normal. This caused me to miss out on Mario Strikers Charged but I did let my brother know it has online play which means he bought it the day it was released. After playing it with him for a few hours and later in a full 4 player Co-Op match I realized it is just the kinda fun to play, easy to pickup, hard to master game that I could hold myself over with. Charged marks the beginning of the Holiday game crunch for me... Oh and I guess it kinda goes without saying since that I will be picking up the title thats being claimed to be 'better than Ocarina of Time' tomorrow. Sadly I will be picking up BioShock for Xbox360 since I haven't upgraded my PC in awhile.

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