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Wii Game Review: The Croods: Prehistoric Party!

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Imagine you’re a developer who has just been tasked with turning a kid’s movie into a video game. You don’t have a whole lot of budget to work with, and you’re likely on some crazy time constraint to get the game finished in time for the film’s Croods Wii Cover Artrelease. This is undoubtedly a daunting task; so I never go into a game like The Croods: Prehistoric Party! expecting something brilliant.

But if I could sit down with all the developers of these Wii titles based on animated films, I’d have one question to ask them: Why the hell does it always have to be a mini-game collection?

Ice Age, Madagascar, Toy Story — just to name a few, all morphed into mini-game collections, and none of them are particularly good. I will give The Croods some credit for at least attempting to clone one of the greatest mini-game titles of all time – Mario Party.

The Croods distributes its various mini-games in a board game format, similar to what we have seen in the popular Nintendo title. The only difference is that Prehistoric Party! is embarrassingly slow, looks terrible, and doesn’t even scratch the surface of attempting to be creative.

A typical playthrough begins by you walking across a barren landscape that is supposed to act as some sort of menu. The world turns into a board game after you aimlessly move to some arbitrary point, with other locations serving as galleries for in-game content. From there you and your friends will select a Crood, and begin very slowly rolling dice, watching the cube bounce awkwardly off the environment until, finally, your character moves the appropriate amount of spaces – after making some funny quip about their roll, of course.

The player does nothing during this process whatsoever, aside from rolling the dice. Repeat this several times and the game will be over, and you’ll never want to play it again. Moreover, your children will hate you for subjecting them to this soul-sucking crap.

Sure, every now and then you’ll land on a space that declares “You discovered fire!”, or some other random thing, most of which appears to have no effect on the game whatsoever. Most of the time you will just be walking around the board in an automated fashion, subjecting yourself to terrible one-liners and unimpressive voice acting. If you’re lucky (or unlucky) enough to land on a space with a minigame, you’re then introduced to the meat of the experience, which doesn’t taste particularly great.

Prehistoric Party! does not use the Nunchuck attachment at all, meaning you control your cave person entirely with the D Pad. The good news is that most mini-games involve moving in a straight line, the goal being to reach the finish. Yes, most of these mini-games are a race, with some twist added in a vain attempt to switch things up.

Race to the finish, but don’t let the monkey see you move (their vision is apparently based on movement). Let’s race to the finish again, except this time we’ll be floating on a giant seed! There’s absolutely no creativity here, and the game makes almost no use of the Wii’s motion controls at all, something I find to be truly shocking.

I mentioned previously that games like this typically have small budgets and tight deadlines. But even taking that into consideration, there’s still no excuse for a final product of such poor quality. Prehistoric Party! is a blatant attempt to sell copies to the mothers of screaming kids at stores, under the ruse that you’re buying something related to the DreamWorks film of the same name. This game is unprecedentedly dull and uninspired.

Maybe you can use it as a creative new way to punish your children if the misbehave. However, if that’s not something you find appealing, then you should probably stay far away from this one.

The Croods: Prehistoric Party! is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Mild Cartoon Violence.

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About Chad Michael Van Alstin

Chad is an award-winning libertarian opinion columnist. He's done with that now. Having earned himself a B.A. in Mass Communication, Chad now spends most of his time as a wage laborer, killing the pain by consuming as many video games and movies as possible. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadVanAlstin