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PS2 Review - 'Muppets Party Cruise'

by Hank on Jan. 16, 2004 @ 2:26 a.m. PST

No one parties harder than the Muppets, and in Muppet Party Cruise players set sail with the Muppet crew for tons of hilarious, family-friendly fun. One to four players can play as one of six Muppet characters, including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Animal, Fozzie Bear, Pepe the King Prawn and The Great Gonzo in 30 action-packed mini-games! Muppet Party Cruise also features authentic Muppet voice talent and bonus movie shorts created by The Jim Henson Company. Come aboard the wackiest party boat around!

Genre : Action
Publisher : TDK Mediactive
Developer : Mass Media
Release date : November 11, 2003

Buy 'MUPPETS PARTY CRUISE': GameCube | PlayStation 2

The instant I mention Kermit the Frog, you think of Miss Piggy. Well, even if you don't, I do. I pretty much grew up watching most of the Muppet movies. Now, instead of coming out with another new movie, they have decided to unleash their wackiness on the console game market.

So what type of game can the zany Muppets come up with? From my perspective, the only possibilities are either an adventure game (where you try to save Piggy) or a party game. Apparently, TDK Mediactive and Mass Media opted for the latter. Now that the PS2 is finally getting more party games, how does one of its new games fare against the others that have already been out on the market for some time?

I believe this game is in direct competition with Pacman Fever, but rather than implementing a simple Monopoly-type field, the game board is not linearly predetermined. You choose your direction and goal, and in order to win, you must acquire three party favors of the same color. Once you pull that off, the game is over. However, don't be surprised to find that the person who obtains the main goal does not win. In order to ensure victory, you must meet a few requirements: most amount of money, most number of wins, and highest move count. Now that we're finished rehashing the game manual, let's start the party.

In order to start the game and move from your current location, you must "roll" to determine how far you can move. In this sense, however, you aren't rolling a set of dice, but you are instead using a different system involving a pinball machine. While you may score the highest move count from the pinball machine, your move amount is never restricted by that number; there are items scattered around the board that will give you more moves or even teleport you to the nearest event.

You can choose from a total of 30 events. The games are randomly chosen in the Long Cruise, but in Short Cruise mode, you can play any of the mini games that you have unlocked. The available games range from dodging, fighting, shooting, and driving to classic games like Bingo. In a sense, the title's vast collection of mini games makes it quite similar to Mario Party 5.

With such a wide selection of mini games, I will only go into detail about my favorites: Beach Speeders, Outta Gas, Shuffle Chalk, Bingo, and Tug O' War. Beach Speeders is a game in which you race against other small remote-controlled cars in an attempt to finish first. This is my favorite because it is one of the easiest games, and it's actually pretty fun. If you have played Off-Road, this game plays similarly but on a shorter course. In Outta Gas, your car has run out of fuel, and - you've guessed it - you'll be trying to push your car to the gas station before the other team. You can either control or push the car, but if you are pushing, you must hit the X and O buttons at the correct time. Shuffle Chalk is a game that every cruise player should try at least once. When I went on my cruise, this was probably the most enjoyable event, aside from playing the PS2 in our cabins. If you have never played this game before, the objective is to try and push your shuffle over a triangle pyramid and attain the most points. You can even displace your opponent's shuffle just so they don't get points the next time (or, if you are evil like me, you use it so you can stop the movement of the shuffle, allowing you to score the maximum number of points). Another classic game would be Bingo, which is pretty self-explanatory; they announce a letter and number which you try to match, and your goal is to obtain Bingo faster than your opponents. Finally, Tug O' War is a classic game that you would normally play in groups, but in this game, you play with four people (two on each side). The gameplay is very similar to DDR, as you will need to hit the direction arrow before the others. These are my favorite mini games, and all are unlocked from the beginning.

The entire list of unlocked games is composed of: Bunsen's Burners Cannon Fodder, Crustacean Crush, Dune Buggies, Looney Unicycles, Outta Gas, Pigsty Party, Rhythm Mayhem, Shuffle Chalk, Slippery When Wet, Stage Fright, and Stinky Cheese. Games that require unlocking are: Aeroplane Islane, Asteroid Belt, Chemical Imbalance, Fish Flingers, Food Fight, Gumball Drops, Lights Out, Natural Disaster, Power Boatin', Short Circuit, Sling Ball, Spinball, Ticklin' the Ivories, and finally, Too Cool. As you can see, there is a game in almost any genre, all of which can be enjoyable to anyone in just about every age group.

How do you unlock the other mini games? If you win in the Long Cruise, you will earn points that can be used to purchase the other mini games. Each mini game has its own "price," and you must have enough points before you can actually purchase and unlock the game. So make sure you win on the Long Cruises -- there are a total of five different game boards. The first one, which is available at the beginning, is the Engine Room. The rest, Crew's Quarters, Quality Cabins, Star Suites, and Royal Staterooms, must be unlocked. Each board has a different setting, but all play the same. Win on each one of these boards to purchase all of the mini games, allowing you to compete against your fellow friends in Short Cruise.

Before you start these games, you must choose your character. There are a total of six playable characters and six NPCs (Non Playable Characters). Playable characters include: Kermit, Piggy, Animal, Fozzie, Gonzo, and Pepe. Staler and Waldorf, Rowlf, Rizzo, Swedish Chef, Sam the Eagle, Bunsen, and Beaker all make guest appearances.

The game is not much fun from a single-player perspective, but it can be incredibly entertaining if you are playing with friends. In order to unlock all of the mini games and enjoy the game to its fullest, you must devote time and effort. If you end up playing by yourself, the most enjoyable aspect of the game will probably be the voices (no, not the ones in your head).

The voice actors seem identical to the voices I remember from my childhood. If you liked the Muppets before, you will definitely enjoy them now. Fozzie and Gonzo have been and will always remain my favorite characters. The music track is unimpressive but certainly fitting for the title's cruise theme. The scores are Caribbean in nature, but the dominant sound in the game resides within the voices and the interaction with the board.

The board itself isn't terribly striking, but you can't complain. The graphics were meant to have a cartoon style, and even though it doesn't look all that great, it still conjures up old memories. I can really only commend the graphics within the mini games. The graphics there are quite fitting and at times very enjoyable just to watch. Each game has its own visual atmosphere, with some using a zoomed-in perspective while others are viewed from a distance. In general, the graphics are appropriate for the younger audience, and I am certain they will thoroughly enjoy this game.

Overall, the game designers have a good idea, despite a few kinks here and there in the game itself. Party games for the PS2 are downright rare, so they do occupy somewhat of a niche in that area. However, I feel like they should have created a much better board than what was implemented in this game. I personally like the predetermined course board, especially when you can punish the others if you land on something. In this game, the only times you can punish another player are during a mini game or when you stand beside the opponent on the board to play Roshambo (which is a rare occurrence). The game does have several fun aspects, but the board's design saps away the fun factor, especially since you have to wait for each character to move. Perhaps the developers could have added a function to accelerate the turns. With so many titles out there, this one will probably be overlooked, but I'd like to recommend that you at least give it a try. With 30 mini games, I'm sure it will be an enjoyable way to pass a few hours.

Score: 7.6/10

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