Adding the word “party” into the title of a game is generally not a good omen. Trying to aim a game at the whole family is a harder task than opening a walnut with nothing but your forehead, so when Supermassive Games came up with Start the Party: Save the World they had a sizable task in making sure it didn’t fall into the oh-so-regular family trap of turning into something totally pointless. Did they manage it? Well… no. Not really.
When the Move was announced, a lot of people were concerned that the market would be flooded with shallow games, mimicking the Wii’s huge library of titles with no objective other than to flap your hands about the place for a few minutes at a time. Save the World takes a few steps to make its mini games a little more skillful, but there’s still nowhere near enough here to warrant rushing out and handing over your hard earned cash. It doesn’t really fare too well from the start, where you’re greeted with a main menu that gives you the choice of Options, and Solo or Group Play. There’s no difficulty settings or extra bonus items to aim for, but if the games are great fun then we could look over that happily enough.
But jumping into the games doesn’t really help much due to just how mixed the results are. With the general theme of Dr Terrible (steady with the imagination…) and his cronies doing everything to get in the way of the World and its day to day running, the mini games generally follow the theme of saving people from nasty situations. There’s no specific order to play them in, and each game is given a voiceover by a cheesy American guy to explain what’s going on and how you can help, so you don’t need to memorise how each game works. From here you’ll be drawing clouds, controlling a helicopter, repairing robots and several other tasks using your trusty Move controller. And while some of the mini-games are really well made, others are just a bit random and frustrating.
A couple of games have you using the Move as a drawing tool, by doing such things as drawing clouds to bounce falling cavemen into caves, or drawing huge laser circles around aliens to blow them up. These games work very well indeed, with the accuracy of the Move helping to make it a quite skillful set of games. Another favourite of mine was the ambulance game, whereby you balance an injured person on a big hand sticking out of an ambulance as it goes up and down hills and over speed bumps. You’ll need to collect first aid kits as you go, and doing so means you sometimes need to throw your casualty around and catch it carefully. It’s good fun at first, but it’s not hard to get the hang of it and once the challenge is gone, it loses its appeal.
This is a problem with many of the games. A few are fun for a while, but the challenge just doesn’t last. Others are just plain repetitive – having to clean, repair and extinguish robots on a production line is interesting until you’ve played it a couple of times, then you won’t go back to it. A second player can make things a bit more enjoyable; using the Sixaxis controller you can generally control something else within the game to make life trickier for the main player, which makes flicking fish into a boat slightly harder when player 2 is moving the boat around the place. But this isn’t all of the multiplayer action you can expect.
So, it’s a party game. Many of the games aren’t great on your own, but surely with a few friends it all picks up? Sadly that’s not really the case. There are a couple of game modes to play with your fellow gamers – Group Play and Quick Fire. They’re both pretty similar; Group Play just lets you play a few games, hand the Move over to someone else and see who gets the highest score. Quick Fire is basically the same, but you only get a short time on each game before it quickly moves on to the next which, for parties, is probably the best bet to stop your viewers waiting for too long. It’s the same set of 20 games you’ve got available in single player, and there isn’t really much of a party element other than taking it in turns.
So Start the Party: Save the World falls into that trap that so many have fallen into before. It’s not really a party game, although it is a game that kids might find entertaining for a couple of weekends. Considering you can pick it up for a touch over £10 it might not be a terrible bet for the kids, but it’s disappointing that Supermassive didn’t do more here, especially considering it’s the second game in the series. Yes a handful of mini-games are entertaining, but it’s not enough to recommend.