The Nintendo Switch is well-established now as a great multiplayer system, with plenty of first- and third-party titles for up to four players to have fun with, and yet we don't have a new Mario Party for the Switch yet less than a year after its release. Enter Party Planet, a game from Mastiff (publisher of games such as La Pucelle: Tactics and Gurumin: a Monstrous Adventure) that promises to be the ultimate four-player party experience. Unfortunately, the end result is anything but.
Party Planet is a collection of 30 mini-games, without any frills of any sort. There's no story mode, no characters, and not even some sort of competitive mode, which should be the absolute minimum. All you can do is go into the main Party mode and choose one of the mini-games to play, manually, one after the other. Each game has its own miniature leaderboard, and getting high scores in each game is how you end up unlocking all of the mini-games, most of which are locked at the beginning. This is overall disappointing, as the competitive nature of Mario Party is its biggest draw, but it's not a problem if the mini-games are fun enough - which they are not.
There is absolutely nothing to Party Planet except for the mini-games, and the sad fact is that nearly every single one is lackluster. None of them are particularly original, and many of them aren't even clever. Of all the mini-games I played, there were only about three original ones that I found myself having much fun with - and two of those could only be played single player, with no multiplayer option available. I say "original" ones because several of these mini-games are unabashed copies of more famous games, such as Snake, Asteroids, Zuma, and even Balloon Fight, which is just outright infuriating to see.
Some games are more complex than others, but overall, all of them are pretty simple. This is fine, as in a party setting you want to be able to learn the games in an instant, and all of these mini-games fit that bill (with a couple of single-player exceptions). The issue here, however, is that most of them just aren't very fun. They become too simple, and ultimately unengaging, so almost nothing in the game is that interesting. Some of them are fine, but there's nothing here I'd want to willingly return to, unlike many Mario Party mini-games. One game in particular, Lava Golf, has the most terrible controls I've ever seen in a golf game, and it actively made me angry as I played. Some of them get more fun when played multiplayer, but a lot of that is just from the fact that competitive multiplayer is more fun in general; there's nothing really about these mini-games that lends them to great multiplayer entertainment.
The game's presentation is pretty mediocre, honestly. All of the graphics are flat and simple, on par with online Flash games you play for free in your web browser. The music is fine and fun; it's not very memorable, but it's enjoyable. What really drove me up the wall was the controller rumble. The Switch controllers are equipped with HD Rumble tech that can do some really amazing things in the right hands; see Golf Story for a great example of this. In this game, however, the only flavor of rumble that exists is "entire controller full blast". It's very disorienting when you take light damage and your controllers start going absolutely bonkers. At least the game appears to be fully functional, as I did not run into any noticeable bugs.
Ultimately, Party Planet is a major letdown. The presentation is bare-bones, offering nothing besides access to 30 mini-games that just aren't fun enough to justify the asking price. I feel bad, because you can tell the developers did the best they could with the content that was designed, but it's just not enough. With so many extraordinary games on the Switch, including numerous indie and multiplayer games, your money would probably be better spent on nearly anything else.
Final score: 5.5 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.