Furu Furu Park (Wii) review
"Consider Bubble Bobble. You can still capture enemies in bubbles and collect the fruit they leave behind, only now there's no advancing to another screen. You just keep playing for most of two minutes—if you can survive that long, which isn't terribly difficult—and then your score is tallied. That's the beginning and end of Bubble Bobble, at least in Furu Furu Park."
Furu Furu Park is difficult to review for several reasons. First, it hardly even feels like a complete package. Secondly, its repetitive nature makes playing the thing long enough to get a full idea of just how many times it drops the ball quite annoying. Finally, accurately describing the game makes obvious its many faults, to the point where some people might not believe that anyone would even develop such a mess, much less bring it to market. Taito was up to the first task, though, and Majesco the second. I guess those heroic efforts justify a review.
Right, then. So, just what is Furu Furu Park? The short answer is that it's a collection of mini-games. Think Mario Party without the boards, Cooking Mama without the culinary theme or Rayman: Raving Rabbids without the titular rabbits. For $20, Majesco figures you'll be happy to take the bundle home and relive some retro Taito classics, along with a few new games both brief and quirky. It's a safe bet on the face of things, but there's a problem: the games stink like a street corner hobo.
The packaging references several Taito classics that scarcely need an introduction. For example, there's Arkanoid (the fun game where you move a paddle about on the bottom of the screen as you bounce a ball up to destroy different block formations from one level to the next). There's also Bubble Bobble, where you progress from one stage to the next by capturing enemies in your bubbles and knocking them off-screen so that you can collect goodies before doing the same thing on a new screen. Then there's Pocky & Rocky, which many will remember as a delightful game about a girl and a raccoon traveling through Japan and battling monsters with playing cards and sticks. Typically, those three games alone would justify the price of admittance, but in this case you only get to play part of them.
Consider Bubble Bobble. You can still capture enemies in bubbles and collect the fruit they leave behind, only now there's no advancing to another screen. You just keep playing for most of two minutes--if you can survive that long, which isn't terribly difficult--and then your score is tallied. That's the beginning and end of Bubble Bobble, at least in Furu Furu Park.
“Okay,” you tell yourself, “I guess that was okay. I'll just play one of the other fun mini-games now.” So you turn next to... let's say Pocky & Rocky. After a screen that acclimates you to the simple controls (these are well-done and work nicely for each mini-game in the collection), you begin. Pocky runs around a small little area, hitting enemies with her staff or tossing playing cards as you see fit. The simple sprites from the SNES version are gone, replaced by three-dimensional characters with bland textures that do at least serve the function of making things look modernized. You get to play until Pocky has taken three hits, or until the timer expires. Then you're done with Pocky & Rocky.
At this point, you're likely feeling rather disappointed. These games were much better in their original iterations, and in compilations that have come since. What is the point of letting you play just a tiny snippet of these games with visual enhancements if they're nowhere near as much fun as they were back in the day? Sure, you can play them repeatedly to improve your top score and ranking, but what good is one (bland) level of Bubble Bobble, part of a (dull) stage from Pocky & Rocky or a simple puzzle or maze from Arkanoid or Cameltry (here called Camel Maze, for reasons unknown)? The answer, of course, is that they're not much good at all. Even after that realization, though, you could shrug your shoulders and say “Well, that still leaves 26 other games to try. I bet they rock!”
So, about those 26 other games... They're not very good, or even unique within the compilation. There are two where you hold the Wii remote like the handle on a motorcycle and rev it quickly when the game demands it. There are two where you tilt the controller this way and that as a skateboarder launches into the air in order to perform tricks. There are three where you hold the Wii Remote upright and tilt it left or right to spin portions of a picture so that they eventually align to create a portrait. Without even playing the full 30 mini-games, you can easily experience nearly everything the game has to offer in the space of about 20 minutes. Even if you find a few diversions you like, they get old after 3 or 4 attempts and you'll probably never want to touch them again.
Sensing that they didn't have nearly enough content to make a full game, the developers threw some other features in on top of the standard mini-games. If you like, you can choose five mini-games, play them in quick succession and then be rated on your overall performance by a pig with a superiority complex. Or if you manage to find another player (lies and deception may prove necessary in this venture), you can compete in 5 of the usual 30 mini-games so that an afro-haired gentleman can tell you if you are romantically compatible with your companion. There's also an option to play through all 30 games to determine who can master more of them. None of these diversions change the fact that you're still playing the same tiresome games.
What you basically have in Furu Furu Park, then, is a collection of 30 uninteresting mini-games that can be played alone or with one friend. They're colorful and sometimes try to be quirky, but there's really not much here that you haven't seen done before--and better--several times in the past. The Wii is quickly becoming home to a variety of mini-game compilations. I'm okay with that, but I do ask that they be fun to play. Furu Furu Park fails in that regard, and several others, so that even with a low price tag it just feels too expensive. The Wii deserves better and so do you.
Staff review by Jason Venter (January 28, 2008)
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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