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Our House: Party! (Wii) artwork

Our House: Party! (Wii) review


"What makes things even worse is that they are sandwiched between several load screens that are disguised to trick you into believing that they contain useful or exciting information. You'll soon learn better. Pre-game tutorials explain how you're supposed to proceed through the challenge at hand, but the examples on-screen have little in common with the diversions that actually follow. The result is that you're never prepared for what comes next until you've played the game frequently enough to figure things out on your own. Your first experience with any mode feels like trying to kiss a porcupine's butt in the dark."



Our House Party! has the unique and unfortunate distinction of being the worst game that I've ever played on Wii. That statement might lead you to believe that I'm being vicious for the sake of general nastiness or because I just don't understand this sort of title, but I can assure you that I had nothing but high hopes for this particular title. I really do enjoy well-executed party games and I firmly believe that home improvement games like this one have the potential to be entertaining. The developers just happen to have butchered things in this instance. You'd do well to avoid the game entirely.

Let's say that you ignore me, though. Maybe you don't believe me when I say that such a simple concept can be this bad or maybe you're just a glutton for punishment. After sitting through a rather uninspiring series of logos and a sing-song chorus that takes a moment to even load, you'll arrive at the game's main menu. There you can "Share" your home with friends online, take a trip to the "Options" screen, play mini-games or dive into the main game. That last option is your best option, so start there.

Our House Party! functions a lot like Mario Party and other similar games, only without the quality or any compelling reason to play. As with the more recent Mario Party titles, it takes a few minutes before you're able to get down to business. First you must name your save file and decide how many people will be playing. You also need to choose an avatar out of several potential ones that can represent you, plus you will be asked to select from a short list the home that suits your particular style. Options include a building that looks more like a castle-themed fortress, a modern abode (which is what I chose), a Victorian, a Suburban and even a Gingerbread house.

When you finally begin playing, your goal becomes somewhat clear: you're supposed to improve your chosen home's value by tackling an assortment of mini-games. A few load sequences later, you'll arrive at the street where you live with three competitors (controlled either by the game's AI or by any unfortunate friends or family members that you have conned into suffering through this mess by your side). You'll see the value of everyone's home. Then it's time to travel to the Home Depot, where everyone will play a simple game in which they push a cart around the branded store in search of tools for upcoming challenges. You can only buy stuff if you have enough screws, though, and sometimes items don't seem to want to appear on your cart or the checker at the stations along the bottom of the screen will change his location. It's all quite frustrating and your cart controls like a drunk ox.

Once you have finished your trip to the fabulous home improvement store of your dreams, the first of many such trips, you'll eventually arrive at a screen depicting the various mini-games that you must conquer. Players trot around on what looks like a giant jigsaw puzzle in an attempt to determine which series of events comes up next. You'll eventually play all of them, but the order in which you do so is up to you and your competitors. Once a general consensus is reached, the festivities begin and you've finally arrived at the rotten heart of the game.

As you might expect by now, the mini-games in Our House Party! leave a lot to be desired. What makes things even worse is that they are sandwiched between several load screens that are disguised to trick you into believing that they contain useful or exciting information. You'll soon learn better. Pre-game tutorials explain how you're supposed to proceed through the challenge at hand, but the examples on-screen have little in common with the diversions that actually follow. The result is that you're never prepared for what comes next until you've played the game frequently enough to figure things out on your own. Your first experience with any mode feels like trying to kiss a porcupine's butt in the dark. Even if you seem to be winning, you're really not.

As an example of that, consider one of my earliest assignments. I was advised that I needed to wallpaper a room. As I tried my best to do so, I was stunned by how difficult it was to even glue the wallpaper to the wall. I couldn't really even tell how successful my attempts were, or if my Wii Remote swings were even accomplishing anything. Finally, I had a strip plastered on the wall in a nice vertical line. The timer continued ticking down and I began working on a second strip, only to watch the first one peel away from the wall. My efforts had been for naught. Meanwhile, my computer-controlled competitors faced no such issues.

Other mini-games fare little better, even in rare instances where there's no ambiguity as to the control scheme and you know precisely what you're expected to do. Your computer opponents almost always do things better, with effortless grace. The only exception comes when one of them is asked to team up with you. Then you'll find yourself blocked at every turn as you try to lay bricks and your partner knocks nearly every one away from the wall that two of you are jointly constructing, or as you try to work in concert with each of the other players to assemble walls for a building and instead find lumber dropping everywhere but the place you actually intend to place it. Even the task of competing to move the most furniture out of a room becomes a nightmare as you're forced constantly to readjust your position whenever you need to push or pull in a new direction.

Our House Party! fails for many reasons. The controls are horrible, the load screens are numerous and the mini-games simply aren't any fun. Even the occasionally charming artwork and bouncy music lose their appeal within a few minutes of play, especially when so many character animations and noises are repeated like skips on a record. It doesn't matter if you're playing with friends or by yourself; the game is a disaster no matter how you look at it. The concept may have had potential, but even the most solid of foundations can't save a project that gets caught up in a tornado of sloppy execution. Try Our House on the DS instead, where it's almost completely different and therefore much better. The Wii edition has issues that even its budget price point couldn't fix.

Rating: 2/10

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Staff review by Jason Venter (February 08, 2010)

Jason Venter founded HonestGamers in 1998, and since then has written hundreds of reviews as the site's editor-in-chief. He also is a prolific freelancer with game reviews, articles and fiction available around the Internet.

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