The Wii’s primary audience consists of young children, baby boomers and senior citizens—fact. Very few people in this audience have ever played a video game before the Wii, or realize that the scope of gaming goes beyond Pac-Man and Mario Brothers—fact. The casual audience’s general ignorance of gaming and what it can be allows publishers to sell loads of derivative shovelware on the Wii, taking the old copy-paste approach to Nintendo’s party games and a few of the other top-tier family titles. As a result, quality software on the Wii, in any category, has been scarce. I don’t like it, you probably don’t like it, but those are the facts, and as John Adams said, facts are stubborn things.
When it comes to reviewing yet another party game for the Wii, these facts make it hard for me to stay objective—I’m inclined to write off anything with “party” in the title from the word-go, but that wouldn’t be honest. That’s why I give something like Squeeballs a chance, a game that looks like it’s trying to add some color and personality to the homogenous minigame genre.
The idea behind Squeeballs is at least original. You are a quality assurance tester on an island, at a toy factory where the Squeeballs are manufactured. Your job is to literally torture-test the cute, roughly spherical creatures in a battery of minigame evaluations. These minigames are divided into eleven categories:.
10-pin bowling is functionally a carbon copy of Wii Sports Bowling. It plays almost exactly the same, except you can add spin to the ball while it’s rolling by twisting the Wii remote, and of course you’re bowling for Squeeballs.
In Cannon, Squeeballs are fired at the screen from a large cannon, and you have to whack them with a tennis racket, sometimes a certain distance, sometimes into bombs planted around the field.
Cooking is a twisted take on Cooking Mama, where you roll, mince, chop and meat-grind Squeeballs to make a recipe for a hungry, horned monster Squeeball.
Paint by Squeeballs is one of the funnier games—you use a slingshot to fire the little creatures at a canvas, and they “paint” it different colors when they go splat.
Shock is rather sadistic. You must guide a ring over an irregularly shaped wire with the remote pointer. If you reach the end of the wire without touching the wire and losing charge, you’ll fry the Squeeball trapped in a glass container until there’s nothing left but a pair of eyeballs.
Stampede is pretty funny too, if unoriginal. Basically a horde of Squeeballs charges over a snowy landscape and you must blast them into paste or crush them by hitting snowmen and dropping icicles on them. The game ends when the Squeeballs cover the screen and smother you.
Crazy Lanes has you bowling again, but along a twisting lane suspended over lava. Once you release the ball you guide it with the Wii remote pointer, over obstacles and around the turns in the lane, until you once again knock over a set of Squeeball pins.
Feeding Frenzy is a strange mash-up of Cooking and Stampede. You play in the same snowy arena but this time the horned monsters are charging at you, and you must use the D-pad to launch different colors of Squeeballs into their mouths, depending on the color of the monster.
In Pumping a Squeeball’s nose is attached to a bicycle pump, and you must inflate him with air, then release him like a rapidly deflating balloon. As he flies you guide him through rings to a target. Some challenges require you to rupture the poor Squeeball a certain number of times.
Golf, oddly enough, is almost nothing like Wii Sports Golf. You swing a Squeeball as hard as you can and then guide him with the pointer, skipping him off the water until you reach a target. Wind direction and strength greatly affects your accuracy.
The final game is the Squeeball Testing Belt. As different Squeeballs roll along a conveyor belt you must perform different actions with the Wii remote, depending on which Squeeball rolls by. Waving the remote in different directions will smash, slice, punch or pop the hapless Squeeballs.
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