In the instruction book for Vegas Party, the first sentence of the game introduction says, “Welcome into the gambling-friendly universe of this over-the-top version of Las Vegas city.” It is a bad sentence, but it’s so oddly constructed and vaguely illogical that reading it makes me happy. Before actually beginning my first round of the game, I went through my house and made sure that everyone present heard that sentence, just because I thought it might entertain them. Disappointingly enough, this sentence is my favorite part of the game. If Vegas Party had been as interesting as that one puzzling sentence from that instruction book is, it might have made for a fun party game rather than being the boring slog that it is.
The gameplay in Vegas Party is similar to that of the popular Mario Party games. Players select from a variety of wacky characters that will represent them in a virtual board game which consists of rolling a dice to see how many spaces you move. This board game, just like that of other games in the genre, is punctuated by a variety of minigames, though in this case each of them has a casino theme. There’s nothing wrong with this sort of game, as good games following this formula can be quite entertaining, especially in multiplayer situations. Vegas Party, however, does all of the ingredients needed to successfully complete this formula poorly, making the game seem like work to play. The supposedly wacky characters display a complete lack of personality, the board consists of a straight line, and absolutely none of the minigames are fun.
The minigames in Vegas Party deserve special mention as the largest contributing factor to the game’s lack of entertainment value. Some of them, like roulette or red and black, are all right because all you have to do in the game is guess what’s going to happen. They aren’t thrilling games, but they were good enough that while I was in a multiplayer game, no one wanted to put any Wiimotes through the TV screen. Anything more elaborate than that, however, seems to be too much for the game to handle. Bingo becomes a strange race to click on balls rolling down a line, Texas Hold ‘Em is presented as the world’s most complicated game of memory, and darts are a tedious exercise in trying to make the controller do what you tell it to. To make things worse, the game decides how much each player has to bet in any given game, taking away any strategy that players could have implemented while slogging through them. If the minigames had been fun, the other parts of Vegas Party would have seemed like uninspired aspects of a decent game, but as they are, the whole thing seems like a creative way to punish friends that behave poorly at a party.
Though I have serious problems with a lot of parts of Vegas Party, the graphics and sound are actually not terrible. While there’s nothing present graphically that couldn’t have been done on a last generation console. The board is lined with brightly lit buildings, each with a distinct and colorful design, making it look like Las Vegas as it might be depicted on a fairly tame cartoon. The interiors of the casinos are decently designed and interesting, too, despite the fact that they’re relatively pointless. Even the graphics in the minigames are perfectly sufficient. As for the sound, nothing is really wrong with it. The game is full of cheerful music and brief voice clips. However, there’s also nothing that great about the sound, as most of it is totally unmemorable.
In regards to the game’s value, one might be tempted to defend Vegas Party on the grounds that the game only costs 20 dollars. If you’re a Wii owner that really feels desperate to combine board games with minigames and don’t want to pay for Mario Party, however, you’d be better off getting out a copy of Candy Land and playing a round of air hockey on your mediocre Wii minigame collection of choice every few rounds. The amount of content in Vegas Party, regardless of its quality, is also massively unimpressive. There’s only one board available to play on and every minigame present can be played in an extremely brief amount of time. The three game modes are also very minimal, with the only differences between them being how many menus you have to click through before it’s time to play another minigame.
When I was getting ready to play Vegas Party, I was actually excited about it, since the prospect of playing a casino themed virtual board game sounded like it would be fun. As I actually played Vegas Party, though, I realized that I’d rather be alphabetizing my CD collection than finishing up the game. I never thought that finishing a video game would be difficult in the face of such thrills as cleaning or staring at a magazine shelf, but Vegas Party managed to show me otherwise. Aside from some adequate graphics and sound, I cannot think of anything, save for a dislike of three people you could talk into playing a virtual board game on the Wii with you, that would recommend this title.
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