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Gamer Tuesday

January 31, 2012

Pap the Disney Gamer's Highlights: Guilty Party

Developed by: Wideload Games

System: Wii

Up until now, all the Gamer Tuesday articles have all been based on games created around an established Disney franchise. Whether it be Mickey and friends, the Disney Princesses, the Disney animated classics or even the theme parks, these games were developed with the hopes of using the license the development team was given to the fullest. Yet, the truth of the matter is that Disney HAS created original video games under the Disney Interactive name. These games may not get as much attention as a title based on an animated film would, but some of these prove to be just as engaging as the best of them. With that, I introduce to you today's game, Guilty Party for the Wii.

Let's play a little game. Imagine that one day Disney was running around with a jar full of Disney Magic. On the other end of the hallway is Nintendo running with a box full of Mario Party games. And coming out of an elevator is a Hasbro executive carrying the board game Clue. They all run into each other and their stuff gets mixed. After a hilarious argument who did what, out of the mess pops out a Wii game called Guilty Party, and thus a great game was born.

Setting aside the silly story, Guilty Party is best described as Clue with a heavy dose of Disney charm and the gameplay appeal of Nintendo's Mario Party series. The story behind Guilty Party follows a family of mystery solvers called the Dickens Detective Agency, run by the Commodore. After proclaiming that he will be retiring, leaving his family to take care of his agency, his arch nemesis, Mr. Valentine, goes on a wild crime spree. It is up to the super sleuths to try and unmask this bad man before it is too late.

This is where the heavy dose of Disney charm comes in. Guilty Party may be an original story, but everything is presented like a bonafide Disney product. Everything from the way the story is developed to the main characters just screams Disney charm at its finest. The best part about the story is indeed the characters. If you are a fan of the mystery genre you will realize that the playable characters are based off of famous mystery character archetypes. Max Dickens, for example, is based off of the gumshoe character like Eddie Valiant from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Charlotte Dickens is an old lady likely inspired by Angela Lansbury's character in Murder, She Wrote. Finally, Butch Johnson is the typical police officer that uses brute strength to solve the case.

Along with the characters there is a fun story that doesn't take itself too seriously, yet still manages to be really engaging. You will keep wondering who Mr. Valentine is and why he is so hung up on the Commodore. It's the kind of Disney story where you can tell the writers had a lot of fun working on it. It pays homage to some of the most popular mystery stories, yet does it all with its tongue firmly planted on its cheek, never being too mean spirited but still pointing some of the silliness that may sprout from such a story.

To sum it up, Guilty Party is a delight when it comes to story and characters. What about the gameplay, though? I am very happy to say that Guilty Play is as excellent as the story it is based on. Much like Clue, the objective is to move around a board picking up clues and trying to solve the mystery. Up to four players can play at once, and can either play cooperatively or against each other. There is one principal culprit, but many suspects to investigate. The players go around the board (each one based on a different locale like the Dickens Detective Agency and the Aquarium) interrogating each of the suspects.

Interrogation in Guilty Party is one of the most fun aspects of the title. Rather than just asking the questions and trying to guess if the suspect is truthful or not, players partake in small mini-games where successful completion yields a small piece of the puzzle. Some of the mini-games include hypnotizing the suspect into telling the truth and even bribing them until they are satisfied enough to loosen their lips up. It adds a quirky element of fun to a title that was already bathing in it. That's not all, though. Mr. Valentine is still on the run, and sometimes will use trap cards that will change the board in any way. In some cases the suspects will move around the board, some doors will be closed and challenges will be harder to win. Once all the clues have been gathered and all the suspects been interviewed, the players then use all the clues to try and pick the suspect out. This is done by figuring who they are using their physical description. When all of them have been picked, the game is won and the culprit is apprehended.

The game doesn't end there, though. There are two main options. The first is story mode, where you play through the game's story, and party mode, where the objective is to be the first player to solve the mystery and win the game. In party mode the mystery will be different every time you play, making each experience unique whenever the game is loaded onto the Wii. With the game inviting families to play, Guilty Party does an ingenious job of presenting its difficulty. Each player can adjust his or her difficulty, making it easier or harder as they see fit. That way, overall difficulty isn't sacrificed for the sake of accessibility. Another great thing Guilty Party does is that if a player is having problems completing a challenge, the game will tone the difficulty down in order to allow completion. On the contrary, if the player is doing great the difficulty will rise in difficulty.

To close this edition of Gamer Tuesday, I want to tell you a brief story. Originally, I reviewed the game for Nintendo World Report in 2010. Despite me enjoying the party games released on the Wii, there was no denying that the system was over flooded with them. A quick search online confirms that there are currently 70 Wii titles with the word 'Party' on them, and they were all mini-game based titles aimed at the casual/family audience. I approached Guilty Party with a lot of caution, but with some hope that the game would be decent at the very least. At the end of my playthrough I was really delighted by it all. I even went as far as to declare it one of the best party games on the Wii. That is because rather than sticking to the tried and true party formula they created something that inspires both the imagination and the critical thinking skills of the player. Guilty Party is one of my all-time favorite games on the Wii as well as Disney game, one that shouldn't be missed. If you are a Disney fan looking for a great game to play with friends and family then look no further than Guilty Party.


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