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Who said fences make good neighbors?

Product Review: "Our House Party" Wii Game

 
Charged with reviewing the Wii game "Our House Party,", I determined that the best way to effectively evaluate the game would be to do as the game suggests -- that is, have a house party.

Game (and living room) loaded, my friends and I took to our Wii remotes (and nunchucks, which are necessary) and began the virtual home improvement journey that is Our House Party. Like many Wii games, there is a learning curve. Unlike many Wii games, Our House Party incorporates numerous and varied game-playing facets, which challenged the user. It wasn't just about mastering one movement through repetition.

In Our House Party, participants moved quickly from shopping for tools at Home Depot -- which required one set of skills -- to any one of nearly 20 home improvement projects around the home, each of which required a different coordination of remote, nunchuck and button-pressing manipulation in order to be successful. Swing the remote like a hammer to demolish a kitchen for remodeling preparation in one, grab, twist and place tiles according to the backsplash pattern in another. In every project, you are racing the clock AND competing against other users (or the computer). Players are ranked after each project (or phase of each project) and awarded screws (points) according to rank. Oh, and your home value goes up with each successful project.

The best projects were those that actually pit player against player. One outdoor project tasked participants with digging a hole in their yard. (Yeah, I know. It's digging a hole. That's punishment in some countries). To slow other players' progress, you can fling your shovel-full of dirt over your fence and into your neighbor's hole. And they do the same for you. In another deck-building project, you get to pry the nails from your opponent's newly-laid deck boards even as you build your own. It's spiteful, vengeful fun.

Game play gets slowed down as the game moves from project to evaluation/appraisal, and really the Home Depot shopping part of the game serves little purpose other than to appease that sponsor. My living room full of friends was less than impressed with the game overall, but most only gave it one go around. It's a game that definitely demands a little patience. The helpful tutorials that precede project phases are only helpful if you take a moment to watch them. In a room full of impatient spectators, participants were goaded into advancing to game play before learning what the object of the next project was. Had we taken time to watch the tutorial, we would have done a better job repairing the plumbing under the kitchen sink and painting the living room.

All in all, it's a fun game to play, particularly when you have two or more players. I see it as a great family-time game, which seems to be in line with the whole Wii mission statement. Like home improvement itself, Our House Party is a worthy investment.

Final rating: 3.5 screws out of 5.



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