Before I get too far into writing this review, I would just like to state that, if you are a gamer that thinks that you might like Disney Channel All Star Party, then you probably will. There are dozens of minigame collections available on the Wii, and most of them are less expensive than this one, but with all of the nearly unplayable sets of supposed party games available for the system, it?s refreshing to see one where almost all of the games are functional and entertaining, no matter what license was slapped on it. What this game does better than almost any other game I?ve ever seen, however, is tap into exactly what junior high girls at a sleepover would want from a game.
The game itself in Disney Channel All Star Party is nothing more than a set of minigames based on such properties as Hannah Montana, Camp Rock, and the Jonas Brothers strung together by a series of menus. Most of them are fairly basic motion controlled games, like ping pong, dancing, arcade basketball, and soccer, and they don?t play any differently than you?d expect. When the minigames start to get strange, however, the game is at its best. A 12-ball variation on ping pong plays like an over-caffeinated version of the Atari 2600?s Warlords, albeit one with much cuter clothes, and my sister, who was forced to play this with me, really enjoyed the three-legged race where players are asked to put their Wiimotes in their pockets and jump up and down like idiots. The more normal minigames work well, too, at the very least outdoing those found in titles like Game Party.
Though there are a lot of things that Disney Channel All Star Party does well, that doesn?t mean that it is without flaws. Many of the games are clones of each other, such as the seven included personality quizzes, and still others suffer from odd control issues, such as the overly sensitive and inconsistent scoring in the rhythm based games. Solo play is also very boring, though I don?t imagine that being an issue for most of the people who end up with this game. It was obviously intended to be played in multiplayer mode, and in that department, it excels.
Admittedly, when I spent an hour playing this in multiplayer, neither myself, at 23, or my 17 year old sister were members of this game?s target audience. Neither of us had any strong feelings for or against the Disney Channel, though we?ve been known to watch some of the shows and say horrible, slanderous things about the stars of others. Despite this, both of us had a lot of fun playing it. Though the numerous personality quizzes appear to be filler when slogging through the minigames in single player mode, they work well in a social setting, particularly if you have any opinion whatsoever as to what animal you would most like to build a giant robot of in your backyard. It was also entertaining to see the legions of bizarre Miis that we?d filled the system with tromping through the game, whether we were watching friends and family interact with the casts of Disney shows or throwing water balloons at Roger Ebert. I don?t think that either of us could have played for much longer than we did, but for younger gamers, or those who are big fans of Disney Channel programming, play sessions could go on for hours.
Disappointingly, the graphics and sound in Disney Channel All Star Party are not as surprisingly well done as the gameplay itself. The graphics are bright, cheerful, and clear, which suits the game well enough, and the character models are animated so that each of them has a very distinct personality corresponding to his or her televised cousin. It?s a cute touch, and as minor as it sounds, it really stands out when one girl waits patiently for an event next to another, who keeps motioning for the other players to get on with their lives. It is a little unfortunate that the amount of care put into character animation highlights the lack of detail in the generic backgrounds, such as a beach, a campground, and, most thrillingly, a basement, but the overall appearance of the game is still above average.
Though it seems easy to look past the flaws in the game?s visuals, the problems with the sound are difficult to ignore. Since the developers couldn?t be bothered to dig through reruns of the sitcoms used in this game to grab a few quick sound clips, every playable character is absolutely silent, giving the game a strange and empty feel. It wouldn?t be so bad except for that every mini game, save for the music based ones, is backed by a short, mind-numbing loop of the theme song of the show you?re pretending to be a part of. In the music based games, the situation is even worse, with the music you?re supposed to be dancing to set at such a low volume that it?s drowned out by weird ambient noise. The fact that the sound is handled so poorly doesn?t ruin the game, but it certainly doesn?t help.
Even though Disney Channel All Star Party is a well made and entertaining minigame collection, especially in multiplayer, that doesn?t change the fact that it has very limited appeal. If you have strong feelings against the Disney Channel?s celebrity assembly line, you won?t like this game, and if you?re a really big fan of the Disney Channel, you?ll like it even more than I did. For everyone between those two extremes, however, this is better than a lot of the minigame collections on the Wii, with piles of significant unlockables that serve to justify the game?s current full price tag, especially for fans.