Sometimes, when playing a video game you are driven to delve into the history of the game you are spending time with, to try and understand it a little better. Such is the case here with Mega Party: A Tootuff Adventure, as Tootuff, or Titeuf to give him his original name, seems like a character with a backstory, but this isn’t explained in game. So, a quick Google later I discovered that Titeuf has been around since 1992, when he was created by a Swiss writer called Zep (I suspect that’s not his real name). Titeuf has appeared on TV and in films, and in video games previously, and is currently considered the premier moneymaker in the French comic market, with over 1.8 million comics sold every year, more than twice as many as the second most popular series. So, with this rich history to choose from, what have the developers, Balio Studio, created with Mega Party: A Tootuff Adventure?
The story is a little hard to follow, but the gist seems to be that Tootuff has found out that sheep can be cloned, and only the very best specimens are selected for the cloning program. From this, he has extrapolated that humans will be cloned next, and when he shared his worries with his friends they came up with a novel solution. It follows that if only the best specimens are chosen to be cloned, then what Tootuff and his friends need to do is be as naughty as possible. This is where Mega Party opens, as now the gang of friends are going to get up to as much mischief as they can. But how should this be portrayed in a video game setting?
Well, what they have come up with is a loose collection of more than 40 mini games, tenuously linked by a bonkers story mode in the hope of delivering some single player fun. However, in what is possibly the most unfortunate timing in video game history, what Balio Studio and the publisher, Microids, have done is release a couch co-op/PvP party game in the middle of a lockdown. Sadly, party games of this type tend to only really come alive with a gang of like-minded friends and maybe a smidge of social lubricant, and that is unfortunately off the table for the foreseeable future. Still, with this brushed under the rug, how about the game, how does it play, is it fun? Well…
First off and Mega Party: A Tootuff Adventure is never going to be mistaken for highbrow entertainment. The mini games seem to revolve around various bodily functions, and are very childish indeed. But not in a way that all children will appreciate; the reaction of my nine year old was a resounding “Ew!” when placed in front of one particular mini game where two characters have to fart in reaction to a picture of a vegetable that is held up by one of the other children. From here, to playing hockey with what are described in game as “turds”, to races and a bit of snowbording, there’s certainly a lot to take in. It’s just a shame that a lot of it is puerile, infantile and downright nasty.
The game is structured in such a way that there is a story mode, in addition to the usual slew of party modes. The story mode, called School Year, can be played solo or against a friend. If you are playing solo, the AI will take control of your opposite number, and all the challenges that you find will be against the AI. So it’s a party game for a single player, which is perhaps kind of appropriate for this day and age. There are three levels to complete within, and each one will require you to explore, talk to people and find the mini games in order to complete them and score enough points on your “Mega Cool” bar; when the bar is full, the session is complete and the next level is available to play. It is then very much a case of rinse and repeat, as you do the same thing with different games in a different area. Finishing School Year mode is required too, as it unlocks challenges in Duel Mode along with the other party game modes available for play.
The multiplayer modes are many and manifold. Duels is where you can test your skills in a single mini game, against another player or the AI. However, as I stated above, only games you have completed in School Year mode can be accessed. This is basically a copy of the School Year, in that two players can go head to head, but only in a single mini game that you choose from. Will it see you trying to not throw up on a roundabout, a race up a water slide, or even a snowboard challenge? The choice is yours.
There is also something called Mega Duels, and this caters for up to four players. In this mode you choose how many challenges you want to face, and they will appear sequentially on the screen – it is up to you to try and win more of the mini games than your friends to be successful. And then we have Duels of Death which only unlocks if you complete School Year with a certain percentage, again catering for up to four players. This time the mini games are randomly chosen, but you’ll still have to win in order to, well, win!
So, we’ve established there is a lot of content to go at with Mega Party, but to be brutally honest it plays out quite badly. Starting in the School Year mode – which, remember, you have to play in order to access the rest of the game – and the graphics look like an early Xbox 360 title, with minimal animation on the characters and Tootuff having a very strange running gait. The controls are sloppy as well; Tootuff has two speeds, a walk where it feels like it takes forever to get anywhere, and a run which makes him almost uncontrollable. Further to that and the camera has a mind of its own as well, getting stuck behind objects and always seeming to want to give you a lovely view of the top of Tootuff’s head. And just to add that little bit of annoyance, the camera’s vertical controls are the opposite way to what you’d think, and there’s no option to invert them.
Any activity that requires fine control, like lining him up with a ladder, is a lot trickier than it needs to be, and the search for “Stupid Stuff” to take part in is long and, frankly, not very interesting. The mini games themselves also vary wildly in quality and difficulty. One that sticks in my mind is a kind of spot the difference game and this is probably the most enjoyable of the lot. But then you have the races, where it’s very much a case of tap A and hope for the best. There is one mini game involving big bikes that is pretty much unplayable – a Micro Machines type affair where if you touch the back edge of the screen you lose a life. Just moving the bike is a test in itself.
All in all, Mega Party: A Tootuff Adventure on Xbox One is very much just okay… at best. It doesn’t do anything particularly well, it looks ropy and the controls are poor, but weighing against that is the inclusion of a lot of content to unlock, and the possibility of four player battles in a series of childish mini games. I can’t really recommend this unless you are a fan of the source material, and even then you may just think that this a licensing opportunity gone too far. There is a bit of fun to be had here, but unfortunately it’s hidden behind farts, turds and vomit.