For much of its life, it has been easy to be down on the GamePad’s ultimate usefulness. It seems so few games actually need the GamePad to be an excellent experience; anything the controller adds is not necessary, even if it does improve the title. Recently, though, being pessimistic about the GamePad’s ultimate value has become increasingly challenging. Major Nintendo games have made great use of the GamePad, and now we’ve got a new multiplayer indie game that could not have been done without the use of the weird little controller. And it’s awesome.
PictoParty is is a pretty straightforward party game. The title uses the GamePad and nothing else, and up to fifteen people can play at once. One player is given the GamePad, and on the controller screen a word is shown. The player then uses the stylus to draw a picture, which other players can see being drawn on the television screen. If someone correctly guesses what picture you’re drawing, you hit a button, a point is given, and you start on a new picture. Once a timer runs out, you pass on the GamePad and someone else takes a turn.
There are several dictionaries to choose from – different sets and kinds of words that the game will have you draw. You can even make your own dictionaries and add them to the game, which helps if you want to make the experience more akin to Cards Against Humanity than Apples to Apples. There are a few colors to choose from while drawing as well. You can also choose how long each round is, whether you’re on teams, and whether you can erase, among other options.
It’s extremely fun. It does what the best party board games do – it offers the players something to do, with a level of simplicity that lets anyone play, and then gets out of the way to let them create their own fun. That fun comes from the frequently horrible attempts at drawing. It comes from the increasing desperation as a player tries to get others to guess their picture correctly as the timer ticks down. It comes from the interaction with friends. And I can’t think of a way it could have been done this well without the GamePad, or as a board game instead of a video game – you’d go through a lot of paper.
The music is pretty solid. It’s simple, and a bit repetitive, but it works, and you can easily turn it off. The visuals are similar; it’s simple, it gets the game across, and it’s inoffensive enough. This isn’t a title that is particularly dependent on audiovisual genius, and what the developers bring to the table is more than enough.
PictoParty is a fun twist on a classic game, and it certainly could not be done without the GamePad. So should you buy PictoParty? Well, if you want a board game-esque party game for lots of people to play, you can’t do better than PictoParty. You’ll get gameplay that is both fun and funny, with plenty of options to make sure everything goes to plan. For eight bucks, that’s a worthwhile purchase.