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Muppets Party Cruise PlayStation 2

Published by Global Star Software
Developed by Mass Media
Released - Out Now
Price : £19.99

I grew up, probably like most of you reading this, watching the Muppets. Kermit Fozzy, Miss Piggy and Gonzo et al kept me entertained for years. I watched the series and the films and enjoyed them all. A few years ago they made some more Muppet shows but it just didn't seem the same but then again without the genius of Jim Henson behind the show, how could it? Any way, back on topic so to speak, here we have a party game based on the ever popular characters. Muppets Party Cruise is definitely one for the family and whilst there are a few problems, it's still worthwhile for any fans of the Muppets who like the idea of playing mini-games against their family and friends.

As you've probably guessed from the title Muppets Party Cruise is a party game that's set on a cruise ship. The game begins with the Muppets remembering their recent holiday. They recall how Pepe blundered and bought tickets for the first deck rather than first class and of course those wonderful games that they played. The game itself offers a choice of a Long Cruise (with a kind of board game that ties all the mini-games together, Mario Party style) or Short Cruise, which is basically a mode where you can enjoy any of the 30 mini games that you've unlocked. Muppets Party Cruise allows you to control either Gonzo, Animal, Miss Piggy, Kermit, Fozzy or Pepe. Other Muppets, such as the Pianist Rowlf, appear during the course of the Long Cruise game.

Party games are all about the mini-games and how good they are. Even the great Mario Party games are a mix of great, average and poor mini-games and likewise Muppets Party Cruise has a mix of enjoyable and forgettable mini-games. Personally I enjoyed games such as Shuffle Chalk, Cannon Fodder, Speed Bingo and Outta Gas, which were all instantly enjoyable. Other games such as Stage Fright did not appeal to me at all as the game involves you first of all throwing tomatoes at the Muppets on stage then, without warning, you're controlling the Muppet on stage who has to avoid being hit. I found Stage Fright a little disorientating and there are a few games like that but to be honest the number of good games outweigh the poor ones, which is good to see.

There are five boards (or decks as they are known) with which to play the Long Cruise games on. Initially though you'll only have access to the Engine Room deck but by gathering party favours and unlocking new mini-games you'll unlock the other decks. To determine how many squares you'll move you have to use the Moving and Grooving Machine, which is kind of like a child's pinball machine. The decks contain many modifiers and events that keep things interesting ranging from the rock, paper scissors game that enables you to take half of your opponents credits (should you win) to the Swedish Chef who will throw various items onto the deck and each item has a different effect (the head of lettuce, for instance, doubles the credits you pick up during your turn. Around the decks you'll find various coloured doors and behind the blue, green and red doors are party favours and behind the yellow doors are micro-games that have to be played and can earn you extra credits etc. Some doors that have party favours behind them trigger an auction where the highest bidder wins the favour. Most doors will trigger a mini-game though and the winner of the game wins the favour. When you collect enough favours of the same colour the game will end.

Graphically the Muppets Party Cruise looks quite good and the Muppet characters look exactly how you would expect them to. The decks are not that detailed but are certainly of the level you would expect them to be in a party game. The mini-games are generally OK with some looking better than others. Some games have camera angles that are slightly less than ideal, but there are only a few instances where this is the case and on the whole the standard of presentation in these mini-games is pleasing.

Whilst the game definitely has an authentic Muppets feel to it, it's a shame that the cutscenes are not subtitled. The intro, where the muppets talk about their holiday isn't subtitled which makes it useless for deaf gamers. The little characteristic quips that they come out with whilst playing the games are also not subtitled, so again a key ingredient of the Muppets flavour is simply missing for deaf gamers and this is unfortunate especially as the various comments are actually quite humorous. Thankfully though the mini-game descriptions and controls are shown in text. Any events that occur during the board game section are also shown in text so there is nothing that will stop you from knowing how to play the games or understanding what's happening, it's just that you're not getting the full Muppet experience.

The Muppets Party Cruise, when all said and done, is a competent and fairly enjoyable party game. It's not in the Mario Party league but fans of the Muppets will enjoy what's here. However it's a disappointment that the speech is not subtitled as this devalues the game to a certain extent and takes away from the Muppet flavour and humour of the game. The bottom line though is that if you like your party games and are a fan of the Muppets than at the price of £19.99 this represents a solid purchase (especially if you have a Multitap so that four players can compete).

Overall Game Rating: 7.0/10
Muppets Party Cruise is an enjoyable Muppet flavoured party game that has a solid range of mini-games.

Deaf Gamers comment:
No problems but it would have been the icing on the cake had all the cutscenes and Muppet comments been subtitled.