(PlayStation 3)

Start the Party (PlayStation 3)

Game Review

Start the Party Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by James Newton

We rock the party

Start the Party is every core Move owner's worst nightmare: a minigame collection, full of casual, family-friendly gameplay. Although the usual issues that hold back the genre are all present and correct here, it's still not a bad title for families and those wanting a silly but enjoyable introduction to the controller.

You won't be overwhelmed with options in Start the Party: you can choose Solo or Group Play, with the option to play a mixture of games at random or select your own in Party Mix. Winning minigames secures you stars, and whoever has the most stars at the end of the game is the winner. It's necessarily simple and easy for anyone to follow, which is definitely a bonus.

For anyone looking to play with the four players supported by the title, you'll be pleased to know you can pass around one Move controller to get everyone involved, but multiple Moves are not supported. At the beginning of the game you snap a picture and record a short voice sample for each player, a nice way to introduce the game's players without on-screen keyboards and the like.

Using the Eye camera to display you on-screen has been a staple of Sony’s party games since EyeToy Play all those years ago, but the addition of the Move controller advances this far beyond its origins. Seeing the controller tracked in 1:1 motion even in a simplistic party game is a fascinating experience for any player, and provides some unique gameplay possibilities.

As you'd expect, Start the Party's minigames are a very mixed bag, varying from fun to frantic and frustrating. With 20 different activities of varying lengths and qualities, there isn't a vast amount of content included, and as is usual with the genre Start the Party relies on its combination of players to provide the variety.

Stand-out games include a helicopter rescue game, where the Move becomes the remote controller for a helicopter tasked with airlifting stranded civilians from rooftops before a giant lizard eats them. Turning the controller to fly the chopper is intuitive and responsive, allowing for precision flying at high speeds, the cutesy sock puppet-style lizard helps keep the mood light.

Other highlights include the robot-zapping minigame where video is projected onto the robot’s stomachs, asking you to line up the Move with a cursor to destroy them, which quickly becomes an exercise in disorientation and spacial awareness. There’s also a game in which the Move becomes a fan, blowing falling chicks into nests, and it’s remarkable how quickly you accept that the Move can perform delicate movements with precision.

Other games are less inventive: Whack-a-mole is present, although it only works in a 2D plane, and one game asks you to paint in a succession of shapes, a dull exercise slightly improved by the payoff at the end. The weakest link is a fruit-slicing minigame that simply becomes an exercise in waggling a sword to cut everything to ribbons, the kind of poor motion control we’d hoped Move would be exempt from. There are probably half a dozen games you’re unlikely to want to touch after a few goes, but such is the nature of the party game.

If you are a solo player, there’s a Survival Mode here that challenges you to make it through as many minigames as possible, keeping an energy bar full by successfully performing tasks. As you’d expect it’s not half as enjoyable as playing with others, but it’s a good way to hone your skills and earn a sizeable portion of the game’s Trophies.

There are no online features, not even leaderboards or the ability to save or share any of the secret snapshots the game takes during play, making this strictly a living room party only. It’s not a huge dealbreaker – games like these rarely work over the ‘net anyway – but something is definitely lacking in the longevity stakes here. Although there are three levels of difficulty for each minigame, they don’t change the games enough to make them worth playing on varying levels, although there are Hard mode-specific Trophies for those of you after a stern challenge.

The graphics are as good or as poor as you want them to be: most of the game is spent looking at yourself holding a Move controller disguised as a range of objects, from tennis racquets to toothbrushes. Characters have an appealing cartoon appearance, their faces and expressions unmistakably European, and there’s some pleasing clothy and woody textures on display. The most impressive aspect is the fashion in which the Move controller reacts and resembles the item you’re holding: a flagship title for the Move’s core aspirations this isn’t, but as a centrepiece for augmented reality it absolutely works.

On the audio side you won’t find yourself humming along to any tracks any time soon, with mostly forgettable tunes warbling away in the background, but the irritating commentator is likely to get your goat on more than one occasion. There also seems to be a rather large amount of flatulence sound effects, suggesting those under the age of ten may get the most enjoyment from the game’s audio presentation.

Conclusion

As a showcase for the versatility and augmented reality capabilities of Move, Start the Party is one of the better titles in the launch line-up. The 1:1 tracking is always impressive, even in the lower quality minigames, and when combined with a more enjoyable game there’s a lot to enjoy. Sadly, there just isn’t enough quality content here to recommend a purchase: families with young children who want a multiplayer game without shelling out for multiple Moves may want to consider this, but even so it’s certain to be superseded by better party games in the coming months.

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User Comments (10)

King_Boo

#1

King_Boo said:

All the games seem pretty average at this point, nothing blowing me away.

DazzaAdmin

#2

Dazza said:

I normally hate party games like this, but I really found myself enjoying the fly-swatting and painting games on the Move demo disc.

I'm not sure I'm convinced that this is a worthy full price purchase, but once it ends up in the virtual bargain bin I think I'll pick it up for a laugh.

Nice review James!

Wesker

#3

Wesker said:

From the demo disc this was the most fun. Just standing there with the Move controller in your hand and seeing it represented as something else on screen and being able to play with it and manipulate it was awsome! It's a shame I'm not really a party game kind of a guy and I don't really like the Sony wacky playstation style for these types of games. If I'm gonna play party games I'd much rather be doing it with Nintendo (Mario, Miis, etc.)

JamieOStaff

#4

JamieO said:

My cousin is a PC and a PS3 gamer and has been showing a bit of interest in purchasing PS Move, with the sole intention of it providing fun and active gaming opportunities for his little 4 year old daughter. After playing the fly-squatting and paint demos, I found it to be really simple fun gaming and I pictured in my head that it would be a good early family-friendly title for her to play, (just like James conveys here).

Thanks for all the info on this one James, I'll share it with my cousin. For example it is good to read that the 1:1 tracking is effective and that you can pass around one Move motion controller for 4 player gaming.

I don't want to end on a negative note, but when I played the Start the Party demo it was noticeable that the image from my PS Eye was very fuzzy and grainy. I tweeted for help about this, and researched on the web about it, and the recommendation was to create much more light in my room. However, adding light did not make much difference to the image quality. I also thought that because the PS Eye tracks the orb's light for PS Move most effectively against a dark background, that having all the lights on to get a better camera picture contradicted this fundamental tracking set-up.

Fact is, the demos are fun regardless of the camera's picture quality and a 4 year old kid is not going to be worried if the camera's image in Start the Party is noticeably inferior to the one in chat! D'oh!

RedMemory

#5

RedMemory said:

It's very fun for playing with people who aren't usually into gaming. From getting their picture taken, to recording the voice, to holding the virtual item in your hand. :) It's not an extremely long-lasting experience, but it's great fun for a good amount of time.

And definitely a good thing that it's at a discounted price compared to other new releases!

KAPADO

#6

KAPADO said:

Got this one at launch also get 3 kids or 4 adults to join you and it is alot of fun, but i like watching my 3 nieces taking on ny nephew in group party mode so far i went with the right Move games.

TGov

#7

TGov said:

This one is a lot of fun for the family and friends that come over. I am disappointed in the picture quality, but it works and for $20 it was worth the price IMO.

Z-LemonHead

#8

Z-LemonHead said:

This is a great game!.... for me.
What you can't blame me I'm only eleven.

I like survival mode. My high score is...

drum roll

7:36!!

Beat that guys.
I'd be interested to see your high scores please post them.

Z-LemonHead

#9

Z-LemonHead said:

in the video is this like a different version than mine?
The chicks are purple and croc has loads of teeth and there's stripy things around the mini minigames

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