Lights, Camera, Party! Review

Yes, It’s Another Party Game

The Wii set the stage for casual gaming by creating the party/mini-game standard that has become a long, dark shadow stretching across the rest of gaming. Whether it’s with a  Wii-mote, a Playstation Move controller, or the Kinect, they all amount to the same thing; a bunch of small games, lasting no more than a few seconds or minutes that people take turns playing. It’s cheap, it’s easy and it gives people something to do together if they’re not particularly keen on actually talking to each other. Lights, Camera, Party! is one more title to add to that pile, and it does nothing to stand out from the crowd.

Wheel Of Mini-Games

The premise of Lights, Camera, Party! goes something like this; the Funzini family is minding their own business when a rocket launch being covered by a game show host goes horribly wrong. The rocket crashes into their home, demolishing it completely, and now, in an effort to make lemonade from lemons, the game show host hits upon an idea. He makes the now homeless family competitors in a series of mini-games, with the winner of each round getting a section of a new home as they desire. Whoever has the most parts of the house in their preferred format once the building is complete wins.

It’s a silly, barebones story for another round of mini-game madness and the presentation of the game is in keeping with the tone. As you’d expect from a game that makes no great demands on the hardware, it runs very smoothly. No trouble with frame rates, no glitches or graphical bugs to speak of. On a technical level, it’s quite good. The art direction is simple, cartoony and not particularly inspired, but when you’re making a family game, bright and colorful is all you need. Lights, Camera, Party! definitely is all that. Sound is not particularly robust—it’s not a shooter, so it doesn’t need to be—and doesn’t do much in the way of taking advantage of surround set-ups. But then was anyone really expecting a party game compilation to push the PS3 to its performance envelope?

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When we finally get to the mini-games this is where the more serious problems start. One thing that the game occasionally fails at is giving proper instruction. Each mini-game is incredibly brief, but the visual diagrams that accompany a game before it starts aren’t always clear on what kind of movements the game is looking for. For example, one mini-game requires that players hold the Move controller horizontally in their hand to prepare for a motorcycle jump. The visual diagram doesn’t do a good job of conveying that what the game is looking for is to have the Move controller be “revved” forwards and backwards as a motorcyclist would do. Another serious issue is that occasionally the detection of motion will be off on certain mini-games. While the certain motions, like an under-handed bowling motion work fine, the overhand equivalent—particularly when you have to hold and then depress a trigger to indicate “I’m throwing now”—are clumsy and often fail to register properly. This is not a game that is fundamentally broken, but in a market flooded with party/mini-games, it’s not doing a great job of holding its own.

Ultimately, Move Champions is still probably the best example of what the Move controller can do in a mini-game situation. The bright colors and whacky sensory overload of Lights, Camera, Party! are still likely to do the job when it comes to pleasing kids, but for “serious” Move users, this isn’t going to make your list. A passable—if slightly broken—mini-game compilation is all that’s on show here. Definitely not at the top of the list.