Now that the Switch has become a success story for Nintendo similarly to the Wii, it’s pretty much to be expected that we’d see a lot of shovelware release on it. Among the infamous titles on Wii were the Game Party games. Bad as they were, they were developed mostly by the folks at FarSight Studios, who have been and still are rightfully thriving on their Pinball Arcade series. You’d think they wouldn’t need to do another one of these. Yet, here we are with Party Arcade.
I gave it the benefit of the doubt, anyway. It has been eight years since the last time FarSight were involved with games like this, after all. Maybe they thought they were able to improve on their craft since then. For all I knew, it could have been that Midway and Warner Bros. were stingy with their creative control at the time. This could be the one to really show how a gameroom-esque party game could be done.
Okay, never mind. This presentation is just plain crude. Considering how the main hook of the Pinball Arcade series is the painstaking amount of detail put into recreating classic tables, it boggles the mind to see Party Arcade embody cheap models and visual cues that are reminiscent of the Wii’s darker days. It goes right down to the possibility glitches that screw with the immersion.
Despite this, I do at least enjoy the aesthetics of the virtual arcade. Mainly because that’s where all the detail is. Walking around the arcade and seeing all of the little touches and eye candy is my favorite thing to do in the entire game. It actually looks fun to be there! It I could even argue it’s far more appealing to select a game to play this way than through the super-basic menus you’re treated to upon startup.
The audio department is fair enough. It provides the works when it comes to its sound design. You don’t need to worry about a ping-pong ball not sounding like a ping-pong ball. The arcade lobby also has a host of royalty free music you could listen to in your leisure. I know it’s royalty free because I have definitely heard one of the songs from a 3DS game I reviewed (perhaps Space Defender: Battle Infinity). Fortunately, the music is fitting enough for this kind of game.
Party Arcade consists of a variety of mini games in the veins of games you’d find at an arcade bar. Most of these involve throwing something. You’ve got your Skee Ball, beer pong, darts, indoor basketball hoops, and so on. The best game of the pack is Billiards, mainly because it’s a fairly solid take on it – though not without some issues. But I’ll give credit where credit is due; the fact that this game contains full-fledged versions of Skee Ball and Billiards makes the standalone Skee Ball and Pool games on the eShop that much more cash-grabby than they already were.
Unfortunately, the game has problems of its own. Because Party Arcade bases itself around games of a short-term nature, you’ll see nearly everything before long. And a lot of these games can be played in a similar manner; by holding down the right analog stick and flinging it up at the right time, you could get significant amounts of points for a good chunk of them. For some random reason, Air Hockey and Ping Pong are multiplayer-only games; if you don’t have anyone in the house willing to play with you, good luck finding anybody online! Especially now that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is out for the Internet to bask in. Miraculously, I got a session of Ping Pong going. Since the other opponent wasn’t moving and the round went beyond its 11-point limit, though, I came to the conclusion that I glitched the session into existence…if that makes sense.
Lastly, we have the games that require tokens. Playability here amounts to a game of chance, with earning larger ticket quantities being the only reason to play them. The tickets can be redeemed at the in-game prize shop, and they can get you digital cosmetics for each of the games in the arcade. The problem? You always have to grind for tickets by playing the games over and over again. That is, unless you decide to commit a sin by supporting a practice I’m disappointed FarSight implemented into this game: micro transactions. That’s right. You can buy virtual tickets for virtual prizes for this game you already paid for with additional real money. Yuck.
Yeah, I can’t say I recommend this one. As much as I love some of FarSight’s work, it saddens me to see Party Arcade come out like this. I don’t even like seeing micro transactions shoved into games that would have been good without them. With that aspect or not, Party Arcade is a clumsily built compilation of shallow mini games. Shallow mini games that still somehow manage to contain gameplay and graphical flaws alike. It would be cool to see something of this game’s style done right, but Party Arcade doesn’t deliver. While it does more than other similar games that come to mind, it still feels bare and heavily unpolished.
Review copy provided by FarSight Studios