It’s incredibly easy to criticise the Wii U at the moment – even I’m guilty of it, even though I don’t want to be. My biggest concern about the system isn’t the lack of games, but the lack of games that truly use the Wii U GamePad in innovative ways. Just using the GamePad as another way to view maps or inventories is a convenient feature for most games, but it isn’t realising the potential that Nintendo promised when revealing the system. The problem is that even they are struggling to innovate, something very unusual for a company that’s known for making the most of their hardware. Which is why it delights me to see a game like KnapNok Games’ Spin The Bottle: Bumpie’s Party.
I’ll make it clear right now that this is game is only for the extroverted and/or drunk among you. If you’re shy or easily embarrassed (and I include myself in this category), then you aren’t going to enjoy this party game at all. But still, I urge you to carry on reading this review to get a feel for how strange and, above all, original, this game is.
A party game for 2-8 players that requires at least one Wii Remote (but to be able to play every game, you’ll need up to four, and I also suggest playing with more than four players as well), Spin The Bottle relies completely on the GamePad’s display. Your television will not be needed at all (although leaving the TV on will still play the game’s audio, which is of course better than the GamePad speakers). Like that mainstay of every horny teen’s party, this version of Spin The Bottle asks that you and your friends sit in a circle around the GamePad, though thankfully, this is where the similarities end.
After picking your number of players, writing your name and selecting an avatar from an array of odd and wobbly cartoons, a player must spin the virtual bottle on the GamePad, which will select a partner to take part in one of 17 mini-games (you can remove hated mini-games from the list in the game’s options). At the end of each game, the next player will spin the bottle, be assigned a partner, and so the cycle continues. Successful completion of these strange tasks will award you and your temporary teammate with a flower , and earning three flowers (or however many you specify in the Options menu), will win you the game and an opportunity to open one of three “chests” that contain some sort of random trinket. Sadly, these end of game prizes do absolutely nothing, other then literally end up in a pile in the Goodies menu.
Most of the games involve embarrassing uses for Wii Remotes, like “Orange Squeezing”, where you stand a remote vertically on a table, and you and a partner must touch the A & B buttons at the same time without using your hands, while trying not to remember that you’re invading each others personal space. “Circus Act” asks that you and your partner bear-hug each other, holding a remote behind each others back, and jump when the drumroll stops. It’s utter madness, and depending on how comfortable you are with your fellow players, it’ll either be the most fun you’ve had with the Wii U, or the stuff that nightmares are made of.
Admittedly, the GamePad itself is only used for telling you whose turn is next, spinning the bottle, and explaining the game rules. Only a couple of games use the actual Pad, such as one that requires one player to hold a remote and tilt back and forth to control a rocket while another player uses the GamePad to give them navigational orders. Spin The Bottle is just so clever in its execution that you’d think this type of game would be coming from Nintendo themselves (which makes the disappointment of Game & Wario all the more hurtful).
While not excelling in the graphical or audio departments, this is certainly a game that has an odd style, with the simplistic (and, dare I say it, slightly creepy) nature of the character avatars, it also reminds me of Dumb Ways To Die. It’s all very fun and childlike, much like the quirky sound effects and twee tunes that come from the GamePad/Wii Remotes while you play. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a game that uses the Wii Remote speaker so much: in “Grab The Rooster”, the playing couple must leave the room while everyone else hides the remotes; upon returning, the couple must find the remote that’s playing the sound of a Rooster call.
There’re only 17 mini-games available here, but more will apparently be available in future. It isn’t a game you’ll be playing for hours on end, but it’s certainly a game you can bring out when your friends come over and play for half an hour or so.
VERDICT: This is a very difficult game to critique, and I have to say that your enjoyment of Spin The Bottle is very much a matter of what type of person you are and who you intend to play the game with. It’s certainly a game you’ll get more enjoyment from with the maximum number of allowed players, and if you and your friends are extroverted and feel incredibly comfortable around each other (or have a stash of strong alcohol nearby), then for the price of entry (£5.99) this is an absolutely great party game that gives a shining glimpse of what can be done with the Wii U if a bit of thought is put into it.
GOOD. A game that scores 7/10 is worthy of note, but unworthy of fanfare. It does many things well, but only a few of them incredibly well and, despite a handful of good qualities, fresh ideas and solid mechanics, it fails to overwhelm.