Lights, Camera, Party! Review (PS3)
Being a family man, party games are always have a place in my game collection. And not just because I like to have a bevy of games that are more family friendly, but because I personally enjoy them, too. It’s one of the main reasons I picked up a PlayStation Move in the first place. Unfortunately, the lack of support for PlayStation Move means I haven’t had a good hardcore or casual party game in some time. The last one being Start The Party! Save The World, was incredibly disappointing, especially after I really took to the first one that launched with the Move back in 2010. It’s also why I jumped at the change to give Lights, Camera, Party! a try.
The game sounded promising—a story mode, five playable characters, three party modes, challenges, and 50 mini-games. But even though the game does in fact hit these numbers, it doesn’t deliver any promise.
The story mode is where the bulk of the playtime will be had. Choose one of the five characters (you’ll have to eventually complete the story mode with all five characters if you ever want to see all 50 mini-games), each a member of the Funzini family, and play through waves of mini-games in order to build your the Funzini dream house. The characters have no bearing on the games or the story itself, so it really doesn’t matter who you choose.
The length of the story mode, and because a good ten mini-games are locked away at the start of the game means that you’ll probably encounter the same mini-games more than once during just one playthrough. Calling these mini-games is a stretch; they’re more like micro-games, lasting no more than five to ten seconds each, even on the highest level of difficulty. And that’s where the game really suffers. If you took all 50 games at ten seconds each and added them up, you’d have a little more than 8 minutes worth of gameplay total.
And yet a playthrough of the story mode takes a good 30 or so minutes to complete. The majority of this time is spent watching nonsense Funzini family interactions and hearing the annoying announcer blab away.
On a better note, the mini-games that are there are pretty fun, and unique. While few spark some interest by watching colors on screen and reacting to the PlayStation Move orb changing to match each color, the rest are nothing more than a quick gesture with the Move—things like twirling the move overheard to spin a pizza pie, or winding up to throw bananas at sleeping monkeys. They’re cute, but there’s no meat to them, and after only a couple times playing them they loose their appeal.
As a party game, I was hoping that the three party modes would breathe some new life into mini-games I was already bored with after two playthroughs of the Story mode. Again, I was wrong. It’s more of the same. Survival plays the same, but lose just one mini-game and you’re out. Hot Alien Egg is just another name for hot potato, or randomly selecting a player to take part in the same mini-games. There’s a lottery mode, too, offering ten mini-games for each player. The more a player wins, the more tickets they get, or something. Honestly, it doesn’t make sense, nor does it demand paying attention to. Instead, you just trudge through more of the same mini-games over and over again.
It quickly occurred to me that I hadn’t yet found played all 50 mini-games despite playing many of them three times or more. Choosing Challenge mode, the most enjoyable mode in the game, shows all 50 mini-games in a list format. Quite a few were locked, telling me I needed to complete certain awards, or finish the story mode with other characters to unlock them. Big mistake. When your game is so lacking in content, don’t lock it out in an attempt to stretch replay value. Is it really worth playing through another three or four story modes to completion just to unlock 6 or 8% of your total available mini-games? Nope.
Now I completely understand that these party games are designed to feature, short, quick, easy to play mini-games. I knew that going into this game. But I didn’t expect to have 1/5th of the games locked out, forcing me to play the already available games time and time again to unlock the rest. What I did expect is for these few, extremely fun mini-games to be presented to me in different, equally fun ways to keep my “party” interesting past the 30-minute mark.
There isn’t enough variety between modes, and even though the games are indeed quite fun, the brevity of them and how quickly they begin to repeat leaves Lights, Camera, Party! feeling like there is a distinct lack of content. And with a $29.99 price point, this in unforgivable—even for a party game that is meant to me fun, fast, and easy to play. What is there is very fun, well-designed, and cutely animated, which will at least keep children entertained, saving Lights, Camera, Party! from being a complete disappointment. If only there was more content, the game would have had some potential.