Critical Play: Fairness

Game: Wii Party – Bank Bonanza

Creator: Nintendo

Platform: Wii

Wii Party is generally aimed towards a family audience, so even really young players can participate. Given the complexity of the minigames, I would say that people ages 7 and older can fully enjoy it. The game can be played with anywhere from 2-4 players. You can also fill the extra roles with CPU’s, and you are able to select the difficulty of the CPU’s from easy to expert.

The premise of the game is to collect as much money as possible. Every round, the game follows the following procedure:

First, every player takes turns spinning a large wheel, similar to the one found in Wheel Of Fortune. Based on the slice they land on, an action will occur. Sometimes, this involves adding money to a large bank that is stored above the players heads. Sometimes, it is adding money to your own account. It can also be doubling or tripling the amount of money in the bank or your own balance. Other times, it can be negative, like decreasing your total bank balance.

There is also the chance of a minigame, where all of the players participate in a short game that determines a winner. An example of a minigame would be to take exactly one picture of a family so that you try to capture as many people smiling as you can. Whoever wins the game will take the amount that is currently in the bank. Your outcomes in the game are bounded by the wheel and how well you do in the minigames.

I believe the types of fun that the game goes for are challenge and fellowship. It builds friendly competition amongst players and the minigames all require a slightly different skillset, which makes it exciting and fresh. I think the game does an amazing job of building up excitement as well with the overhead bank, because as rounds go on and money increases, everyone is anxiously waiting to see if there is going to be a minigame. I will say, however, that there is often an uneven and unchecked amount of time between spinning the wheel and a minigame. Sometimes there are tons of minigames, and other times, you are just spinning the wheel over and over again. Even though this could be completely random, it would help if there was a little bit of “unrandomness” to make the pace feel better.

Now comes the question – is this game fair?

There are two main issues I found when playing the game in this regard. All players technically start with the same resources and abilities. The minigames require certain skills, but again, the game does a good job of making the all of the games require different types of skills, so it is hard to compare each (similar to the idea of “fruity” balance).

The first issue is that a higher ranked CPU is not only more skilled in minigames, but also has more luck when it comes to spinning the wheel. It is pretty clear that they often get more benefits, which technically shouldn’t be the case because the wheel still relies on randomness and not their skill. The other issue is that the game often adds, doubles, and triples money in the bank without bound. At some point, the amount of money in the bank is so high, that whoever wins the first minigame will usually end up being the winner of that game. While there are different checks to decrease the players money like cutting it in half, due to the large amount of money they have in comparison to everyone else, it barely makes a difference.

Overall, the game is still incredibly fun, but it does get frustrating at times when my brother or the expert CPU is hogging all of the money.

About the author

hi! i'm a freshman studying cs. i love animation, vr/ar, and game dev!

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