Ever since Mario Party burst on the scene, mini-game collections have become a mainstay on gaming consoles. While other systems also have their fair share, the success of the Wii as a living room device used by families has cemented their association with Nintendo. And since everyone wants a piece of that casual, family pie, everyone has some sort of game to capitalize on their fan base. The latest in that long line of titles is The Croods: Prehistoric Party!, a “party” game based on the animated family film of the same name.
Despite loving to play games with my kids, mini-game collections often leave me with a sour taste in my mouth due to their lazy production and sadly, The Croods: Prehistoric Party! is no different. While long loading times are inherent to all software on the WiiU, Prehistoric Party does itself no initial favors by having an annoying yelp play every few seconds during the loading process and before I had even played the game I was already in a sour mood.
Things did not get better once the proper game had started as I was thrown into the game world with no direction. Much like the far superior Nintendo Land, games are accessed by moving around a basic hub world. Unlike Nintendo Land though, Prehistoric Party’s hub world is something of a mess with no real indication of what each section does or doesn’t do. While the confusing hub world is annoying, it is much less so when compared to the actual “games” to be played and how one has to access them.
The key to a good mini-game collection is having games that are easy to understand, offer instruction that makes sense, and most importantly, gets you playing what you want fast. The Croods: Prehistoric Party! does none of this. While the mini games are mostly easy to master, the initial play period with them is a troublesome mess. The on-screen instruction does little to actually prepare a new player for a round of play leaving said player (me) frustrated at the game. Sure after a second or third go round it is easy to figure out but that first play session is a nightmare. Worst of all though is that the game delays players from jumping right into playing the games, instead forcing players to participate in a lame board game that randomly allows players to take part in actual gameplay.
Still despite these issues, when in a competitive environment and actually playing the mini-games, the game can be quite fun. It’s just hacking through all the foliage to get to it was not worth the end payoff.
Adult Score: 2/5
While I hated most of my time with The Croods: Prehistoric Party! my kids loved their time with it and hooting and hollering was filling my living room as my kids battled against each other. More than once I heard groans of dismay coming from my daughters as my son celebrated by dancing in front of them.
Having seen the film, they all enjoyed picking their favorite characters and playing as them in the game. But when talking to them about what they enjoyed about the game it was the competitive aspect more than the property tie in, as they enjoyed kicking their little sister’s butt or in their little sister’s case defeating the big bullies that were vexing her.
Still, despite their enjoyment they vocally complained about how long it took to get into a game and how much set-up was required to just play a quick mini-game. Rightly or wrongly, this generation of kids is used to electronic devices giving them what they want instantly and it is a major fault of the WiiU system that loading times are so slow.
Kids Score: 4/5
Even as a $40 “budget” title, it is hard to fully recommend this licensed mini-game collection, especially considering a better one already exists in Nintendo Land.
Combined Score: 3/5
Review Note: This review was done using the WiiU version of the game that was provided by the publisher.