The largest setback facing the recently released Squeeballs Party is one of hyperbole. With the game’s cover claiming “150+ mini-games”, potential purchasers may be expecting a cornucopia of diversions. In reality, players will find eleven main recreations, each broadened through an abundant amount of minor deviations. It’s a marketing technique that recalls the illicit NES consoles which offered a myriad of palette-swapped bootleg titles.
Once players recognize that the principal games are well-controlled, visually competent, and generally entertaining, they will likely forgive any exaggerated promotional ploys. Squeeballs Party is often unbearable cute, and could be a very immersive disk for groups of casual gamers. While the Wii’s library is teeming with minigame compilations- in many ways the title is surprisingly proficient, and in execution, fares better than most similar collections.
One of the principal setbacks with many collections is the occasional instance of a wonky control method; a mini-game with an awkward input scheme can quickly put a damper on a festive multiplayer gathering. Early Wii titles like Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz were often woefully unresponsive at times; moving the Wiimote toward the television to play a Whack-A-Mole variant could be particularly frustrating. Thankfully, each of Squeeballs’ games controlled faultlessly; an impressive feat considering many of the title’s stages draw inspiration from problematic minigames of previous disks.
Squeeball’s cooking clearly evokes the culinary tasks of Cooking Mama, as players slice, roll, fry, and flip. Where some of the Wimote gestures on Taito’s disk were often unrecognized, every spin and shake of the controller fluidly executes a step in the recipe. Seeing helpless Squeeballs milled in a sausage grinder is also darkly comical. Cleverly, the developers embedded enough menacing humor to entertain adults, while keeping the game shockingly kid-friendly. In a coy reference to Bandura’s Bobo doll studies, the sole object of aggression are a fictitious line of toys.
One of the other favorites was the title’s reworking of bowling, (although the more conventional 10 Pin Bowling is also on the disk) where players guide bowling balls across lava-bounded, potholed lanes. Paint by Squeeballs required gamers to slingshot characters onto a line-art drawing in an effort to recreate a colored image. As the creatures are splattered onto the canvas, a percentage measures the competency of the player’s efforts. The game’s other eight activities are executed with almost as much aptitude, although some players might crave a bit more diversity from the title’s core campaign.
Visually, Squeeballs is particularly attractive for a budget Wii title. The game’s cinematics are well rendered, and although character models are simplistic, their individual personalities are both palpable and expressive. The game’s modest loadtimes are cleverly disguised by a series of comic panels that illustrate each level’s control method. Sadly, the game’s soundtrack of generic guitar riffs and repetitive character utterances is slightly underwhelming.
Younger or more casually-oriented gamers will likely be delighted by Squeeball’s Party’s comfortable challenge level, effortless controls, and effervescent charm. While the title can’t compare to the diversity or polish of, say Raving Rabbids TV Party, those looking for a easily accessible collection of mini-games could do far worse.