Midway's Game Party series of Wii exclusives started at the tail end of 2007 and had managed to sell more than three million copies worldwide just two years later, despite a critical panning for the first two entries, which were subsequently followed by another subpar effort in the form of Game Party 3 towards the end of 2009. With Midway going bust and Warner Bros. grabbing the lucrative brand name, there was more to come. However, Game Party 4 arrived in the form of an Xbox 360 Kinect exclusive and did not quite hit the sales highs of the Wii titles. The fifth entry, Game Party Champions on Wii U, is certainly not likely to attract those that bought the Wii versions, though. The fact that it has been swept under the rug by even its parent company does not bode well.
Somewhere along the lines, somebody within the team that worked on Game Party Champions must have got overly excited about the idea of the Wii U and its GamePad, firmly believing it could work like a much more powerful Nintendo DS thanks to the two-screen possibilities. Sadly, whoever attempted to integrate the mini-games of Game Party Champions onto Wii U made a grave error in judgement.
Water Bulls-Eye is an example of one that works well, so not all is lost, as it makes good use of holding the GamePad aloft and using the smaller screen to aim the water hose to blast down villains with jets of spray quickly, whilst avoiding damsels in distress. It is the awkward setups, such as the Mini-Golf courses where trying to strike the ball with the putter that appears on the GamePad, ready to be pulled back and swung forward, that really frustrate and ensure any saving grace Game Party Champions may have had is swiftly washed away. Taking that particular example, many times the touch screen swipes do not properly register, whilst when they do there is no real feeling of correlation between quick, sharp flicks making a difference to how hard the ball is hit on-screen. The same definitely goes for other touch-and-swipe mini-games, such as Skill Ball and Hoop Shot. Frustrating and a waste of time.
Game Party Champions attempts to pack in sufficient content, but teases gamers during the Story, where a chosen character is taken to an arcade filled with Midway classics, such as Joust, Rampage, Defender and Gauntlet. Are they playable? No! Instead the main character is whisked off to take part in challenges that are neither engaging nor even worth the effort on the whole. Some of the games are downright broken, with Air Hockey acting like a Nintendo DS game, but with such a distance between the GamePad and TV screen, it's impossible to focus on both as quickly as required. Only half of the table is shown on the GamePad, so focusing on that is pointless as there is no time to react when the puck flies into sight, and constantly watching the TV makes aiming accurately very difficult indeed when flicking the stylus around. It all becomes a bit of a mess, sadly, and anyone that picked this up at launch will be rueing the day they laid down cold, hard cash for this. The fact that Game Party Champions is nowhere to be found on the Wii U eShop, even for information purposes, speaks volumes. Avoid at all costs.
Unfortunately, the opportunity to take advantage of the launch day madness of Wii U ultimately led to the quality of Game Party Champions suffering considerably. Whilst some of the games included are moderate fun at times, the majority are either too basic or, in some cases, even feel slightly broken and unresponsive. With many other alternatives already available, there is absolutely no reason to touch this.