Start the Party! PS3 Review

Publisher – Sony Computer Entertainment Europe – Developer – Supermassive Games – Genre –  Party– Players – 1-4 – Age Rating – 3+ – Other console/handheld formats – N/A

Sony’s new PlayStation Move motion controller could be literally turned into anything that a developer wants to be in your hand inside your TV screen. Take Supermassive Games as an example, they wanted you to brush a crocodile’s teeth, so they have the game placing a toothbrush in your hand; they wanted you to wave flags and ring bells, well, they both appear in your hand too. This is all thanks to something that Sony calls augmented reality.

But, wait I’m getting a little head of myself here. Right let’s back up a little: Start the Party! is a mini game collection that uses Move to a very satisfying degree and shows off the motion controller in more ways than one. Like most mini game collections go, Start the Party may have single player options, but the real fun is to be had when you’re playing as part of a group of up to four players, passing the motion controller between yourselves.

Like the EyeToy, you’re able to see yourself inside your TV when playing Start the Party!, but Move increases the fun. Like I mentioned earlier, each mini game requires you to be holding something in your hand, and here’s the clever part: the game transforms the sphere of your Move into whatever the mini game requires.

This mini game is a lot of fun, it basically has you using a virtual paintbrush to copy an outline.

There are a total of nine short and very simple mini games, which isn’t a lot to be honest, but they’re generally a lot of fun and work as they should at the very least. There’s a mini game where you swat bugs, others that have you popping balloons, shaving hair into the pictured style, saving chicks by blowing them into nests placed at each side of the screen, avoiding bees with an ice lolly in your hand, chopping up fruit with a sharp sword, eradicating ghosts with a torch and more. Obviously, in the real world your Move remains your Move, while in the TV screen it can become objects such as a racquet, a razor, a sword, a fan or a pickaxe.  It’s impressive stuff and it really looks as if you are holding each tool in your hand.

In multiplayer you can play up to ten rounds, in which winning individual rounds will earn you stars. You may think that these stars determine who wins the game, although the last round is actually the one that decides the victor. The stars are exchanged for time in the final round, meaning the more stars you have the higher chance you have of being the all round winner.

There are decent single player options, allowing you to play individual games or to try your hand at the survival mode. The latter mode tasks you with surviving as long as possible, in which making mistakes makes a meter fall quicker, while success will keep the said meter high. I’ve managed to stay playing for just over two minutes so far, and I can see the mode as a good reason to return to it when I’ve got no one else to play against. For the solitary player there’s also local leaderboards for you to hopefully post a top score on.

The presentation of the game definitely seems to be aimed at the younger demographic. The title and options screens are both very colourful and the enthusiastic announcer, dancing tellies and cheery music can both become very annoying over time, although the young kids won’t mind as much about things like this. In a nice touch, the PlayStation Eye takes photos of each player before each game and when it’s your turn you’ll see your own photo on the screen. But, why do we need to do this more than once? Why can’t we save a profile and photo for later use?

You choose your difficulty level at the start of each game. Popping balloons can be tricky when they're speedily passing by on the hard difficulty option.

But the real problem for Start the Party! is its lack of content. The game could have done with quite a few more mini games as if you are looking for a full nights worth of entertainment, you’ll soon find that the game is repeating itself. Perhaps Start the Party! was the right name to go with, as playing the game for the entirety of a party could get a little dull. There’s also one mini game that doesn’t work as it should, using a fan to blow little parachuting people towards boats sounds a lot easier than it actually is, trust me.

So, what we have here with Start the Party! is a generally entertaining mini game compilation with a clever augmented reality trick, but one that doesn’t have enough content or depth for the long term. Even young kids may be asking to play something else after two or three straight plays, but Start the Party! is still well worth a rental sampling, it’s just not worth its £29.99 asking price.