Format reviewed: Wii U eShop
Other formats available: exclusive
Developer: Retroid Interactive AB
Publisher: Retroid Interactive AB
Website: Official Website
Imagine Pictionary. Hold on to that thought, paper (check), pencil (check), friends (check). What? You have no stationary, or have taken environmentalism to the next level, but you’re friends are still clambering for some drawing party games, then look no further than that console sitting under your TV and its touch screen abilities. Party games on Nintendo’s consoles are a dime a dozen. And so are games with the actual use of that name in their title. Most are throwaway and do little for the gamer with a more discerning tatse. Will PictoParty manage to capture your attention for more than 5 minutes or will it become a relic in the party game dustbin?
PictoParty is, first and foremost, a multiplayer game for up to 15 players in the ‘Normal Game’ every person for themselves mode, or up to 24 players in, the only other mode available, ‘Team Game’. But, even with a lack of game types and variety, PictoParty is not limited in the amount of fun it doles out.
Start a game and you’ll meet the Player Select screen. It’s here you can take, and save for future use, photos of all the players to take part in your current session. Next, choose your game settings, round time (between 1 and 5 minutes), pass time penalties, available colours for the sketcher, and whether to use an eraser or not. Then, choose your dictionary. There are 9 dictionaries on offer in PictoParty, with over 700 words in total. Each dictionary is basically a category. Categories range from Activities and People, through to The Planet and Transportation. A wide range that would take a long time to exhaust. However, extensive play would exhaust that limitation, and, due to this, extra life is given to PictoParty by allowing user made dictionaries. Create a category title, e.g. Solar System, and then merely type in the individual words to be located within your new dictionary. Anything goes, even for that slightly risqué party where too much alcohol has been ingested.
The menu interface, whilst primitive, is silky smooth. The touch screen on the GamePad works perfectly, displaying the sketching area and the word to be drawn directly above that area. Tools are limited to 6 coloured pencils and an eraser. The GamePad also highlights the remaining time, and 3 buttons, correct, pass and clear. The TV display is crisp, clean and functional for the other players to guess what it actually is that you are so pitifully sketching. The background decals are lightly coloured white clouds and balloons on blue sky that are neither mind-blowing or off-putting.
Let’s get drawing then. In game, the other players shout out to correctly guess the drawn item, when someone gets it correct, the sketcher can press the correct button followed by the recently revealed picture of the correct player. At the end of each round, play passes to the next randomly selected sketcher. Points are tallied at the end of the game, and dolled out for correct guesses and even for the sketcher that got their drawings correctly guessed. Watch you don’t try to draw abysmally on purpose so that others can’t up their score, you’ll be missing out on easy points to be had.
Game Options are very limited, only allowing access to changes of sound and music (both allow on and off), plus the obligatory language select. Nothing else to see here.
The music throughout is a jolly, gameshow style ditty that gets very repetitive very quickly, hence the ability to turn it off given to you in the options menu. The music really makes you feel like you are playing a crosswords game on the Nintendo DS, and the sound effects do nothing other than function to alert the player, but in a game like this that's their job, and a job done well.
It's hard to fault PictoParty due to its silky smooth and intuitive controls. Everything that this game does is done exceptionally well. It’s just that there is so little to the game than what you can already do in the old-school style. However, it feels liberating sitting there drawing on the GamePad and watching everybody else have a direct feed through the TV screen to guess your artistic notions. If you can stomach its limitations, have friends over often enough that like this sort of activity, then PictoParty comes heartily recommended. Single Players do not apply.
This review, which was written by Lee Davies, first appeared on Nintendo: Review.