Start The Party! (Move)
Sony is no stranger to pioneering new ideas and innovative use of technology. When the developer released EyeToy Play in 2003, it was a technically impressive use of augmented reality, mapping digital elements over a projected image of flesh and bone players. In many ways, it stood as a precursor to Move, but more specifically, Kinect in the way it used controller-less gameplay to deliver an experience that felt intuitive and organic.
As impressive as it was, third-party developers made scant use of the technology and almost all of the games released on the format never went beyond the realms of casual, family-friendly experiences. Now here we are in 2010 with a familiar premise in the form of Start the Party, a game that does exactly what EyeToy Play did years earlier, but with a technically superior backbone holding the whole thing together.
Like Sports Champions, Start The Party is a compendium of mini-games designed to help newcomers become versed in how Move works. One thing we noticed off the bat was how colourful and charming the visuals were, presenting everything in a patchwork art style similar to LittleBigPlanet.
Our demo consisted of four games, showcasing different control methods, each turning the onscreen Move controller into a different object. The camera image of our team holding giant paintbrushes, flyswatters and other objects made us chuckle. It’s a neat feature that helps improve immersion slightly, but these are largely aesthetic.
The first was ‘Blown Away’, a game that turned our controller into a giant desk fan. We were then tasked with using the current of air to blow baby chicks into nests before they dropped off the screen. It worked perfectly, letting us angle the fan to aim precisely and bounce chicks off the side of the screen to score rebound shots. Unfortunately, we did mince up a few of the birds by starting the fan a little too late, which made us very sad and remorseful. Oops.
After clearing the lumps from our throats we moved on to ‘Spooky Shootout’, which played like a lightgun game, in which we zapped patchwork ghosts as they flew about a spooky mansion setting. This could have been a rote shooter, but the mansion is so dark that it’s impossible to see the enemies. Luckily our Move controller had turned into flashlight in our hands which we could then use to illuminate areas of the screen to help us get a better shot. It was both functional and fun.
Next, we felt a tad artisan so tried out ‘Picture This’, a simple game that has you colouring in set shapes before the time limit runs out. The key here is to stay within the lines, but if you keep the brush pointed at the same spot for too long, the paint will start to blotch. Once you’ve painted all the shapes, they come together to create a living painting, in this case, a pink poodle that chased a ball across the screen. Aww.
We finished on Bug Bash that saw us whacking insects with a flyswatter. The catch here is that you have to smack the beasties straight forward so they slam into the foreground and slide down the screen. It’s a laugh and becomes incredibly chaotic as the timer runs down.
Start The Party is a great laugh and has no apparent shortcomings, we just can’t see the replay value or long-lasting appeal at this stage. But perhaps this is because we’re not in the target demographic. Either way, it’s a charming, fun experience that has a few neat tricks up its sleeve.