Lights, Camera, Party! – The PS3 Attitude Review
Move enabled games never really grew to the heights many anticipated. When people aren’t thinking about Move that much, its hard to take notice of the games amongst all the Madden, God of War, and Call of Duty releases. Though Frima Studio never forgot.
Lights, Camera, Party brings the Move enabled party game genre back to PSN and allows up to eight people to compete in 50 crazy minigames, four modes of play, and some pretty outrageous moments. The Funzini family asks us if we’re ready to waggle, spin, and Move.
Lights, Camera, Party!, shortened to LCP for the sake of this review, was not an easy game to play. Not for me or my 5 year old daughter, and we are a pair of skilled gamers. The more I play LCP the more I realize that the reason is likely because LCP is not an augmented reality party game like Start the Party, its a first-person Move enabled party game. The difficulty of particular minigames is higher due to slow controls and and the trial and error design. Furthermore, compared to Start the Party where difficulty settings effect many different parts of a minigame, only one element is ever altered in LCP and it was typically not the fail condition.
An example of this is Leap of Faith, where you’re required to roll the controller like the throttle of a motorcycle keeping the power indicator in the green section. If you throttle too much the needle will go into the red and overheat the engine. This fail condition is not softened by the chosen difficulty setting. It would have been nice to see the overheating take longer or require more throttle before going into the red zone. Even though every minigame has a quick story board style tutorial showing how to play, its very easy to miss and the drawings can be difficult to understand for young ones.
The bread and butter of LCP is Story Mode where up to four players can take part in a game show styled competition, the ultimate prize being to win the home of your dreams. This mode gets old real quick due to the fact that there is very little story involved as the game pushes you through minigames at a blistering pace. A funny intro movie sets up the reason why the Funzini family is competing against one another; to win a new home after the host of the game show obliterates their old one.
Story Mode plays out across five rounds where the winner is awarded a piece of their own dream home. Each member of the Funzini family has his or her own idea of what the house should look like, often drawing inspiration from popular stereotypes. Bella’s dream home has a giant teddy bear and other toy attachments while her grandma’s gambling problem will advertise to the entire neighborhood that grandma’s house has the best slots in town. The player with the highest score at the end of five rounds wins the house.
If it weren’t for trophies, I would have given up on the Story Mode half way through it the first time. After a few rounds, and about 15 minigames, the story gets really thin and the game felt more like work than fun. Having more players didn’t help either because I swear I spent most of my time yelling instructions on how to play each and every minigame. Unlike Start the Party, the difficulty selection effects all contestants and cannot be chosen by each player. With difficult set to Hard, you’d better have three friends that know how to play already, otherwise everyone is going fail a lot.
There are also party modes that allow up to eight players to enjoy the monotony of unlocking more minigames. Survival, Hot Alien Egg, and Lottery are just confusing ways to redirect players to the last man standing, hot potato, and random winner game types. One glaring oversight to the multiplayer modes in LCP is the wrist strap of the Move controller. LCP does not give me enough time to rip it off my wrist and properly attach it to my 5 year old daughter’s wrist. Frima should have made it so when its another player’s turn, they can just press the Move button to say they were ready instead of the game pushing from minigame to minigame at breakneck speeds.
After a while, we grew tired of the party modes and jumped into the single player driven Challenge Mode. This is where we realized how difficult each of the minigames really were. Challenge Mode forces you to pick any of the 50 minigames you may have unlocked and play at the maximum difficulty. Earn bronze, silver, and gold medals for each game to unlock trophies. Fail conditions in Challenge Mode are ridiculous. Miss one time and you fail the minigame. Some of the games are next to impossible and can only be passed with luck, no skill required.
Amongst the 50 minigames in LCP less than a dozen are truly memorable. Everyone will recognize Moon Cutter as the game where all it takes to complete is a forward to backward saw motion, revealing an irate and likely embarrassed monkey on the potty inside the papercraft moon. Some may think this level of crude humor is funny while parents may have to answer some “why” questions afterward. My 5 year old daughter wanted to know why the monkey was going potty inside the moon. That’s a tough one to answer if you think about it.
Another memorable game is The Vampire Buster which feels a lot like the ghost zapping minigame from Start the Party, but my daughter thought this one was scarier. Also, classic Bingo and the two button controls of Jewel Heist are a lot of fun. Many games were simply too difficult to control let alone conquer in Challenge Mode and the passing requirements are insane.
Hide & Hit requires you to smack 30 cats in a row like Whack-A-Mole, but you can’t miss or hit a monkey. In Frogs Like Grape Juice?, you direct the spray of grape juice into the frog’s mouth until it pops, but the movement of the spray does not translate 1:1 with the speed of your movements. All In will try to teach your child how to steal from gamblers at a poker table. Incoming Pies is by far the most difficult minigame requiring split second reactions with laggy controls.
Of course the Move is well known for immersing the player in a 1:1 experience when the game allows it. LCP only requires one Move controller to be used with up to eight players. Syncing the controller is as simple as pointing at the camera and holding the Move button. The whole experience didn’t feel as smooth as Start the Party or any of the light gun shooters I’ve played, which is all of them. Just moving the pointer around the menus produces a noticeable amount of lag in the input.
The presentation of the game really shines and nearly makes up for the learning curve and slow controller input. All the cutscenes are clean and high res, and why wouldn’t it be with all development being on one console. Voice overs are well done and dialogue is intelligently delivered. The game’s music is another story, one where I tell you that it was so mind numbingly repetitive that I turned off the in-game soundtrack.
Lights, Camera, Party is probably best played by gamers 7 years and older, though surprisingly fun for adults. The lack of a quick play mode allowing anyone to play any minigame in any difficulty is a big let down in my house. How else are we supposed to practice the minigames without the astronomical learning curve? Minigames play much more quickly compared to other party games, but this rapid pace doesn’t let up in Story Mode, making for some frantic wrist strap swapping.
Families might enjoy the variety of minigames and Party Modes while more skilled gamers might appreciate the Challenge Mode’s other worldly difficulty spike, which coincidentally may lead to a controller spike. The diversity of the games, cleverness of the Move implementation, and the quality presentation make Lights, Camera, Party! difficult to pass up for fans of party games.