Tuesday, 13 April 2010
video game : Squeeballs Party - Nintendo DS version
Let me warn you straight away - whether you're 5 or 55, you risk becoming totally addicted to the little Squeeball games on Squeeball Party ! Squee-whats, I hear you say ?! Well, let me explain - Squeeballs are cute little toys that are supposedly manufactured in a secret location somewhere on an island in the Pacific. The Squeeballs need to be tested to the point of destruction before they can be sent to store shelves. Your job is to take on the role of toy-tester and try by any means to destroy them to eliminate any that aren't tough enough to survive and make it to the toyshop.
The slightly sadistic humour of trying to destroy cute little toys with lovable personalities and faces adds an edge to this game and makes it stand out from the huge pile of other "party" mini-game compilations. I wasn't sure Sophie, 8, and Juliette, 5, would enjoy inflicting pain and suffering on a bunch of cute toys - but I was wrong ! They giggled away as they splatted them and battered them and covered them in paint and had no qualms whatsoever about the cruelty element. Oh well, they know it's just a game and it's not real !
Lots of the games reminded me of other games - the bowling is a bit like Wii Sport and the cooking one is a bit like Cooking Mama - but there are also some original ideas, like the catapult paintball game and the wire shocker one. The front of the box boasts 70+ mini games but most of these are just minor variations on the 6 central game types : 10 pin bowling, cooking, paint by Squeeballs, shock, crazy lanes and feeding frenzy.
As the instruction manual says, "Once you have unlocked a Game Type, you can play it for points in Single Game mode. Master the game and reap fame and glory with your name on the High Score Screen. The only thing better than making the High Score screen is beating your friends so hook up with your buddies for a competition in party mode - but don't buckle under the multi-player pressure !"
Each mini game is very simple to play - there are no complicated controls or instructions to understand so even 5-year-old Juliette could just jump in and play along with no questions asked. However, actually managing to complete each target is surprisingly hard and she soon got frustrated. Even I found it difficult to master, but instead of giving up in frustration, I found it hard to put down and kept coming back for more ! The stylus didn't always seem to control movements with enough precision so I wonder if the gameplay would be smoother and easier on the Wii version.
It's a fun little package that will keep the kids entertained (despite the 7+ rating, I think it's perfectly acceptable for younger children) and give you a quick 5-minute play on your coffee break. It's not the most taxing or original title I've come across but the humour and the Squeeballs cuteness in part makes up for this.
star rating : 3.5/5
RRP : £19.99