On a console where every other game features men in khakis spraying hot metal at each other in disused warehouses, you can see why Microsoft wanted to release a gardening simulator, where papier-maché teddies get it on with each other.
Viva Piñata, a game nobody bought, tied into a cartoon nobody cares about, was certainly decent enough (though a commercial failure by Rare's standards) but it probably makes sense to hand over the reins to a lesser developer and let them flog it to death instead After all, Krome did such a good job with, er... Ty The Tasmanian Tiger. Still, already well versed in the dark art of talking animals, they couldn't possibly balls up a simple party game... could they?
Well, yes they could, because they've overlooked the most obvious element of any successful party. No, not girls crying in the bathroom - fun. FUN, dammit!
Vive la pants
It took one game for our four-year-old 'test subject' to declare it to be, and we quote, "a bit rubbish". Which speaks volumes for how much of a 'party' you'll find here. The problem is, for all its lurid colours and annoying voice work, it's just so dull. If last month's Thrillville is the peak of mini-game entertainment, then this is like an episode of Sesame Street for the lobotomised.
For starters, the structure is too rudimentary. Each round of mini-games kicks off with a poor approximation of a kart-racer, your standing in which determines your bonuses for the following rounds of mini-games. The longer the game, the more mini-games you have to endure.
That's it. No, seriously, that's your lot. No fanfare, no tickertape parade - nothing. In its defence, you're straight in and out of the action faster than a vicar in a massage parlour, but a smattering of extra modes, or a better sense of building excitement would have given it some much-needed substance.
It would also help if the mini-games were actually good, but they... aren't. There's the 'quickly bang a' one, the 'move around and bang a' one, and let's not forget the all-important, 'stay in one area banging a' game, which we love.
We appreciate that mini-games must be simple and intuitive, but that doesn't mean they can't be imaginative, or hide subtle depths and plenty of replayability, or at least pretend they're doing something exciting. Party Animals does none of these.
After casual games? Blow £40 on Gamer-points and raid XBLA instead.
- You don't HAVE to buy it
- Simplistic, irritating and dull
- just isn't any fun