When I looked at the instruction book for Family Gameshow and saw, in large print, that the Game Show Network, who was sponsoring the game, could not guarantee its quality, I was not looking forward to playing it. After all, though there are plenty of party games for the Wii, enough of them are unplayable that it was easy to believe that this one would be no different. Once I’d actually forced a group of people to play it with me, though, I was pleasantly surprised. Even though there are numerous problems with Family Gameshow, it is still a sufficient party game that is fun to play in short bursts.
The gameplay in Family Gameshow is bound by the gimmick that each player is a contestant on one of three fictional game shows. It’s nice that the game offers three different game types, including a fairly standard trivia game, a Crosswords-inspired collection of puzzles, and a strange knockoff of Nintendo’s Big Brain Academy, as it allows the game to tailor itself to a variety of audiences. This all-inclusive attitude is also reflected in the game’s Generations Mode, which facilitates easy play for any family by adjusting the difficulty of questions to reflect a player’s age.
For all of these interesting and well-implemented features, however, Family Gameshow has plenty of problems to match. Whether you’re dealing with issues unique to each game- like the schizophrenic difficulty of the trivia questions or the fact that the puzzle game will prematurely end itself when less than four players are involved- or the more universal flaw of lightning rounds cancelling out the standings earned in the rest of the game, it’s clear that they stop Family Gameshow from being as good as it could have been.
The sound and graphics in Family Gameshow are at least as uneven as the gameplay. At first, the game appears to offer three perfectly presented approximations of game shows, complete with shiny sets, cheesy music, and obnoxious hosts, but after a closer examination, it is evident that something is off. The oddly empty sets and the creepy way in which the vaguely out of focus people in the game are animated do their fair share in contributing to this. However, the hosts’ banter, which sounds like it was recorded through a tin can with a fan in the bottom and reaches a level of repetitiveness not heard since the N64’s Pokemon Stadium, is the biggest problem with the game’s presentation by a long shot. None of the graphical issues impede the gameplay, though, and as bad as the sound gets, it’s nothing a press of a mute button can’t fix.
If you need a party game for your Wii, Family Gameshow is not the best or most polished option available, but at $20, it’s easy to recommend. The included games go much more quickly than a round of Mario Party and are more easily structured for multiplayer gatherings than the dozens of available minigame collections. Still, the game is not perfect, and its flaws can get in the way of its enjoy ability, particularly during longer gaming sessions.