I’ve played a lot of party games in my time. No, I’m not talking about twister or strip poker, I’m talking about games like Mario Party, Gang Beasts and Mount Your Friends. Games that have everyone at the party glued to the TV, cheering on their team or cursing when they lose. A party game must have the ability to keep a group of people interested long enough so that they are all gunning for a shot of that controller next. Party Crashers from developer Giant Margarita, does somewhat achieve the hallmarks of a party game, however, it suffers from some rust under the hood.
Party Crashers is an arcade combat racer for up to four players. The aesthetic is akin to Tron and it plays very much like a Micro Machines game. The aim to always be the last car (or brick, or banana) standing or to win a race depending on the game mode. To help you along you will require to pick up weapons and power-ups along the way that will help you incapacitate your other riders. These include machine guns, mines, homing missiles, among others. If more than one car is left standing then the points are judged on how much damage you have done or how much health you have left, or how many other riders you eliminated. It’s a pretty simple premise tacked on to a hectic multiplayer experience.
On the surface, it looks like there is a lot of different gameplay modes but in fact, there are only four with an incredible amount of customisation. You have an elimination mode which is essentially last man standing, a race mode, a time trial mode and a battle mode. Once you select a mode you can customise everything from the style of procedurally generated track, what kind of power-ups will be available (or not available), what the track surface will be like to drive on, which obstacles will be in the way and a whole lot more bonuses, handicaps and penalties. If you’re a little overwhelmed by the choice you can simply start a quick game in any of them to give you a basic experience of that particular mode.
Once you’ve figured out all the nuances of the track you can select your vehicle which can range from sports cars to buses all the way to brick and bananas. Once you have your heart set on your vehicle then pick a colour, give it bunny ears or a Viking helmet or change the sound your horn makes. There are a few things you can design your vehicle with, but they are rather limited compared to the amount of customisation that can be put into the level itself.
So, you have your track all set, and you have all your vehicles sorted, now it’s time to go- ah wait you’re stuck on a wall. The frustration lies in the lack of polish, especially when it comes to AI. There were countless times that I had to bump into my AI opponent to unstick them from the wall. I would pause the game and hear the machine gun fire on a constant loop until I had un-paused, and there were times that I drove off the edge of a track only for the game to not register that I had been eliminated.
Even with an abundance of customisation, the game can get old quick. It didn’t hook me in like any of the bigger party games as after maybe three or four rounds, my party and I were ready to play some Gang Beasts. I’m not sure what it was, whether it just lacked that little bit of silliness or there just wasn’t enough in it to keep us hooked. The battle mode was a little disappointing as it took place in a bland old square with weapon boxes appearing at each corner. It could have been after a while of looking at that bland square we felt like playing something a little more colourful!
Party Crashers delivers on a lot of fronts in terms of bringing something to the party. Customising a level just the way you want it with all the bonuses and handicaps you require can be rewarding but it can also be time-consuming when you’re supposed to be playing with friends. It can be fun and hectic for a few rounds but I feel players have seen this before and will have a much more long-lived party experience playing Twister.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*