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Casual Gaming By the Numbers
The whole idea behind casual games is that they're easy to digest, There are no difficulties in learning how to play them or time being wasted reading about special moves or hidden features before the game takes off. Such games work well on computers where you spend a few minutes before moving on to something else, but they haven't worked so well on video game consoles when you're putting in a disc.
That's not to say casual games downloaded or played through the Internet on a game console aren't fun and workable, but there needs to be some special "hook" if it's a game disc trying to do this.
101-in-1 Party Megamix has no problem meeting its obligations to casual play. The title says it all - there's 101 games to choose from. Each can be quickly understood and played. Each provides fun for a few minutes or more. Each will have its supoorters and detractors.
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Graphics, Graphics, Everywhere
There are many games with big graphics that scream out at you. You'll find these in the action games. There are also games where the graphics are smaller and more sedate - such as solving puzzles. The Nintendo Wii can provide a reasonable color palette so there's no problem in having lots of animated characters on the screen that don't blend into one another.
This isn't to say that the Wii doesn't have the hardware smarts to build a quality graphic image on the screen, just that it doesn't have to work so hard when it's a casual game being played. Then the issue becomes whether the game designers have become lazy or not. Obviously they're full of caffeine because little touches needed to pump up a game beyond just a simple background/foreground with animation has been done here. Check out the damage the Biplane takes in its game to see what I mean.
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Listen Real Good
Audio needs to do more than just provide pretty music in the background when playing a casual game. There needs to be the kind of sound effects and ambience that lets the player suspend his/her belief and get into the game. This is just as important in a casual game as any. There's so many games that the Wii gets quite an audio workout. Sure there are the usual explosions and BAM sounds, but there's also more delicate audio when the game demands it. The differences in the sounds between games is another way to keep the games from starting to "merge" into an amorphous blob of boredom. 101 does this well. You won't get a headache from the sounds, but by the same token you won't be ignoring them either.
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Controlling the Games
Casual games do seem to focus more on a main character or aspect of game play than doing tons of different thingsSample contents. This makes controlling the game a lot simpler than in complex titles where button combinations and direction pad maneuvers are important. The Wii remote also changes the “normal” way of playing games to a method that is both simpler and more intuitive - just pointing at what you want to have happen and wiggle the remote around. Press a button or two at the most and that takes care of it.
Some of the games require the use of the Nunchuk, so dust it off if you don't bother with it generally. Two handed games increase the fun level and help to keep games from getting boring just from a single controller's point of view. It also adds to the level of complexity of what the game can do. Granted none of these games are high on that particular chart, but otherwise the games would be even lower on the gaming control Totem pole (as it were).
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Gameplay for the Whole Family - Or Not
You might be surprised to learn that there are more ways to play than just selecting a single game, one at a time. There are three different gaming modes to choose from: TV Guide, Zapping and Marathon. The TV Guide mode has eight "channels", each with a different theme that challenges you to not just to beat the games, but to get a high score so as to unlock more games to play and gain a bonus prize to decorate your player profile with. Zapping mode meanwhile lets you pick any game that has been unlocked, while Marathon mode lets up to four players join in on playing five randomly selected games in a row to build the highest score.
Having these options takes the one-person aspect out of the games and makes it much more family friendly. For those who don't like that, just keep playing on your own.
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So what are my favorites among the dozens that can be chosen from. Well I'm kind of partial to the Pizza game - being lactose intolerant causes anything with cheese to draw my attention. I can appreciate that the games have to try and cater to everybody, so hunting for those that are most compatible with you is fairly necessary. Otherwise I might not have found the reflex challenge games which appeal to me.
Don't get 101-in-1 Party Megamix if all you want to do is kill Aliens over and over again while boosting your rank and finding the secret hidden behind the gray door of darkness. Fire up the Wii, pop this disc in and enjoy a couple of minutes of pure, unadulterated fun. Nobody is going to judge you.