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Guinness World Records: The Videogame Box Art
GENRE
Party
DEVELOPER
TT Games
PUBLISHER
Warner Bros. Interactive
NUMBER OF PLAYERS
1-4
WI-FI ENHANCED
Yes
DS COMPATIBLE
No
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Guinness World Records: The Videogame

The last thing Wii may need is another minigame collection, but Warner Bros. Interactive and Traveller's Tale Games prove the concept is still worth making with the right amount of effort and a keen attention to good game design. That this collection is wrapped around curious and downright surreal, real-world Guinness records is icing on the cake. Best of all, Guinness World Records: The Videogame is well suited both to casual family get-togethers as well as competitive, lone wolf gamers who want to literally be world record holders.

visuals

Guinness World Records is a terrific example of why games are best suited to being developed from the ground up for Wii instead of ported from the obviously inferior PS2. Unlike so many third party PS2 ports to Wii that carry the burden of ragged, hand-me-down graphics, Guinness sports clean, sharp design that is well animated, creative and crisp. Stylistically, the visuals aren't leaps and bounds over The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, but they have the same complexity and charm, and in some mini games feature lightening-fast animation without a hitch.

Perhaps most memorable of the cartoony design is the Lifesavers-meets-Starburst candy color palette, thoughtfully poured over background and character designs that occupy a surreal spot between Warner Bros. cartoons and something akin to a European comic strip. The in-game character models initially sport a hip tween look, but they can be modified with a broad amount of various pants, shirts, shorts, hairstyles and hats that belie a larger age range and instantly provide more charm and spunk than a typical Mii. The backgrounds and design elements for each mini-game often have more detail and personality than a less inspired developer would create, and TT Games' extra effort is clear and appreciated.

audio

After selecting the game disc in the Wii channel interface, MIDI synth music marches, Sousa-style, into gamers' ears, for better or worse. The soundtrack is generally unobtrusive and pleasant in-game though, often reflecting concert band sensibilities. A smarmy TV host-styled voice announces major accomplishments when records are broken, but the most interesting sound design is what comes from the Wii remote speaker during certain games. Not all games include a remote speaker sound effect, but when they do, the effect is tremendous, with the best example being the groaning and creaking of a double decker bus swaying from side to side as the gamer tries to keep it balanced on top of his head.

gameplay

Perhaps predictably, this minigame assortment heartily embraces the motion and pointer controls the remote provides, as well as the motion sensing the nunchuk features as well. Not every game requires both the remote and nunchuk-- many require just the remote-- but whether using one or two peripherals, the motion control often seems spot-on and sufficient. Perhaps the only drawback working against some minigames' control schemes is the less-than-intuitive instructions many games feature.

While TT Games should be praised for striving to create a minigame collection as accessible and intuitive as Wario Ware, some objectives in these surreal set ups can't be explained clearly enough via one to three comic panel illustrations with minimal animations of the remote and/or nunchuk indicating required movements. Particularly, any minigames involving throwing or projecting an item over a distance, whether it be a washing machine throw or a human cannonball, are difficult to understand. Figuring out what to do when is largely trial and error. Since most mini games can be completed in seconds (and are often scored by the clock, anyway), there's little time to figure out when it's best to stop alternately yanking the remote and nunchuk, when a button should be pressed, when the remote tilted, the button released... for a frantic 15 second minigame, such ambiguities can be disheartening.

Fortunately, most of the minigames don't fall into this trap. Pointing, clicking and dragging cockroaches into a person's mouth and then jerking the nunchuk around to chew is grossly easy-- pun intended. Popping 100 balloons just depends on how quickly a gamer can stab the remote in the air. Building the tallest skyscraper-- one of the game's instant classics-- requires just drag-and-dropping tetris-styled room shapes to fit within a perfect square, floor after floor. Certainly some of the 36 games seem more fun than others, but there's plenty of variety to ensure there will be multiple-- and different-- favorites in any given group of folks.

When just starting out in Guinness World Records, only a single minigame is unlocked at each of the twelve major landmark locations scattered around the game's globe-styled menu interface. Each time a minigame is played, though, coins are rewarded to the participating character's profile, and those coins can be pooled with other characters' coins or used exclusively to buy more minigames (up to three at any location on the globe) or more items to customize gamers' in-game avatars. The coin earning constraint may suggest slow going, but there are many great minigames in the initial unlocked set, and the coins add up fast after playing each of those one to three times.

Yet also praiseworthy is the records themselves, which create a genuinely addictive experience for single players and groups alike. More than just window dressing, every minigame has a series of records that can be challenged and defended: per in-game character, per console, within the state, within the country and within the entire world. The game starts up with preset records, many of them easy to best with a focused session of gaming. Hooking the game up to Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection makes the magic, though: every game can be updated with genuine records created by other gamers in the state, country and world, and the person with the best record at each level gets his or her name (and score) downloaded to every other participating player's Wii. Can "ASHLEY"'s cockroach eating record be beat in Colorado? Surely. Can Englishman "W1NT3R"'s impressive, multiple records be taken down? Not so easily. These records could be called leader boards or imitators of Xbox Live's Achievements, but that doesn't matter. In the unique context of 10 to 15 second minigames, these records can bring out a sense of competition and, better, a level playing field, that makes churning through the minigames over and over a near compulsive experience. And by compulsive, we mean fun.

multiplayer

That's not to suggest that the records are for single players only. Perhaps your Aunt Michelle's first-time experience in running while balancing an egg on a spoon will prove to be a new USA record-- as suggested above, the variety of games ensures favorites and uniquely perfect experiences for various people, making Guinness World Records: The Videogame a great title for get-togethers. Given the single-player nature of the minigames, they're played round-robin, but they're speedy enough for turn-taking to not be an issue. Plus, adding and dropping folks into the competition is a quick and painless side trip to a menu.

overall

Guinness World Records: The Videogame is a pleasant surprise for the 2008 holiday season. More polished and personality-laden than many other third parties' minigame collections on Wii, this title is actually solid fun for solo players and groups alike. Granted, like all games within this niche genre, some gamers may get bored with the experience faster than others, but it's so solidly put together it should remain a perennial favorite to pull out, time and again, whenever folks come over, or just to see if a personal record has been broken-- or if there's a new one to beat.



final score 7.7/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar M. Noah Ward
Staff Profile | Email
"Death narrowly avoided, thanks to another friendly NPC."


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