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Guinness World Records: The Videogame (Wii) artwork

Guinness World Records: The Videogame (Wii) review

"Reasonably good fun as long as it lasts, but it won't set any records for longevity..."

When I was but a young lad in the second grade, the elementary school that I attended hosted a book fair. Students could peruse tables full of exciting books that had presumably been approved for young minds. Then we could purchase them and treasure them for always, like good little scholars.

At the time, I loved books even more than I do now. I was a voracious reader who had not yet discovered video games, and I hated the fact that I couldn’t afford to buy a whole stack of paperbacks, what with their shiny covers and vivid pictures and pages that smelled faintly like wood. I had money enough for only one, so I looked for something especially hefty and full of words. I found what I wanted when I spotted “The Guinness Book of World Records.” It was, I believe, the brand new 1988 edition, and it was several hundred pages long.

After paying the required monies, I retreated to my classroom with my prize. In the following hours, I spent every spare moment poring through pages filled with interesting facts… to the point that my teacher finally confiscated my new acquisition and only returned it only when I was ready to head out to the school bus for the ride home. At last I could read it all I wanted, and I spent many enjoyable hours doing precisely that during the ensuing months and even years. I learned all about the universe and its most fascinating minutiae, and I regaled visiting family members with the frequently useless but almost always remarkable knowledge I had gleaned.

Guinness World Records: The Videogame (Wii) image

It’s fair to say that I appreciate Guinness World Records. On the face of things, it’s just an organization that puts together a bunch of silly facts and inspires people to compete to be the ones recognized for baking the longest loaf of bread (3,975 feet, a record set in Portugal in 2005 that for all I know remains unbeaten to this day) or for performing the most consecutive skateboard ollies (128, at least at the time a record was set in the UK in 2005). There’s an educational component also, though, and it can be especially effective because breaking records is just plain cool.

Guinness World Records: The Videogame attempts to cash in on that particular brand of cool, and I certainly can’t fault it for trying. Developed by TT Games, the studio responsible for numerous high-quality LEGO projects in recent years, the mostly overlooked Wii title actually provides reasonable context for its focus on mini-games: you’re one of several ambitious competitors, traveling the world and competing in various events in an attempt to claim the Guinness world record.

There’s no actual story here, which suits me just fine. You begin by choosing a character, and then you appear on an oversized globe. You can run around and the perspective shifts to accommodate that movement. Oceans and continents pass under your feet, with various landmarks scrolling into sight to make it easy to keep track of your current location. You can move the Wii Remote cursor over some of those special attractions, and from there you can select one of three regional events. One is available right from the start at each new tourist attraction, and others must be purchased with 3,000 or 5,000 coins, which you earn by making record attempts.

Guinness World Records: The Videogame (Wii) image

I like the interface, which nicely fits the game’s theme, but sometimes it’s a little difficult to find a specific mini-game I might wish to play. I have to remember where it was located and on which continent, which is never really obvious even in hindsight. Perhaps the developers could have included the globe, but let me jump immediately from one continent to another using menus. It wouldn’t have been as cute, but it would have been more efficient and there’s something to be said for that. Anyway, it’s only a minor annoyance and easily overcome.

Once you begin an event, you’re provided instructions on how to play. These appear by default the first time only. After that, you can press the 1 button to access them again if desired. The complexity of the various games varies somewhat. In one, you might simply need to pump the Wii Remote and Nunchuk up and down repeatedly, while others require more precise movements at specific times. Often, I found that I had to attempt a game two or three times before I figured out exactly what was expected of me. Then from there, it usually wasn’t hard to place well.

Each mini-game comes complete with various records that you can try to beat, including the official Guinness world record (which is in most cases fictional, I suspect, though you can also read facts about more genuine records throughout the game). The instruction manual notes that you can upload scores online, but that functionality will be going away in another couple of months and it didn’t really affect any sessions I played by myself or with friends. The best option is really just to gather a few pals around the television screen and compete locally, since most of the games aren’t satisfying or demanding enough that you’d probably care to extend your field of competition to include total strangers.

Guinness World Records: The Videogame (Wii) image

One nice thing about playing with friends is that content is unlocked more quickly. When you’re all competing in the same events and pushing one another to improve, coins are gained more rapidly and each of you can build up a balance that unlocks new attractions for everyone. It’s also fun because you can laugh together at some of the things you’re asked to do. One game, for instance, has you groping a skunk so that it farts. Another has you shaving three sheep as quickly as you can, and yet another arms you with a tattoo gun so that you can cover your subject in the most tattoos. Each mini-game is over pretty quickly, which means no one has to wait long for a turn, and some frustration is avoided because you’re not all competing simultaneously.

Unfortunately, not everything is pulled off without a hitch. As I noted, it often takes a few attempts before you get the hang of a given mini-game, so you’ll need to probably sit through a couple of rounds before you turn in a real attempt. If not everyone is in the mood to do that, the game’s value drops a bit. Also, even though there are three dozen unique events, some of them are overly similar. You’ll also be able to access and master most or all of them within an hour or two if playing alone, and there’s not really an event that I can imagine most individuals enjoying more than a few times.

When I bought that hefty paperback all those years ago, it opened my eyes to interesting facts about the world that until then I hadn’t even contemplated. I learned that science can be fun, and I developed an appreciation for excellence and competition. Guinness World Records: The Videogame is no doubt an attempt to offer all of that stuff to a new generation. While it does serve as a reasonable diversion for a few hours, though, it lacks any real longevity. Give it a look if you can find it cheap, but otherwise you’re better off spending your money on a paperback book. They still make those, right?


honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (March 10, 2014)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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