If you’re a fan of party games, then recent years have certainly been kind to you. With countless adventures arriving on Xbox One to promote and engage local multiplayer and bring a sort of revival to the once beloved genre, you can be sure to find something for the family to enjoy. Choice is a wonderful thing though and with Tetsumo Party having recently arrived on Xbox One, it seems players now have another unique, wacky and inventive title to choose from – but is it worth your time?
For those yet to hear of Tetsumo Party, the game plays out very much like some of TV’s most popular Japanese game shows, requiring players to do a meaningless task for the point of entertainment. The objective on this occasion will see players taking control of a Sumo wrestler, before going face to face with a flurry of seemingly on-rails walls, complete with a particular Sumo-sized hole in which you must position your Sumo’s body to get through. There’s no real reason for us to be doing this as Tetsumo Party doesn’t come with an attached story to follow, or even any background to be going on with; instead your sole reason to be going on is for the sport of it.
Now there is a little more to it than simply fitting between the gaps – although the term ‘little’ should be taken seriously. See, beyond a few sparse multiplayer options and some extra bits to take in via way of a pickup or two, there is nothing to really speak of that mixes up the general gist of things. It is this which ensures the overall experience gets highly repetitive, very quickly.
To get things started, players must first choose a character, or rather a Sumo, from those available, with two options to boot before more are unlocked through gameplay later on. Character choice doesn’t make any difference to the gameplay besides that of the visual appearance however, and you won’t find any character performing better than another. This does of course make things feel rather pointless in that respect and with a number of what are essentially unlockable skins available, it would have been nice to see different characters given various abilities to keep things interesting. But alas, we can only wish.
To control your chosen Sumo, you must utilise a simple control scheme which uses both bumpers and triggers of the controller to control the individual limbs – RB controlling the right arm, RT the right leg, LB the left arm, and LT the left leg. Each time a limb’s corresponding button is pressed, the chosen limb moves by one position. Only by moving all of the limbs to the positions shown on the oncoming wall will you be able to then progress, earning stars along the way with each wall successfully passed.
In terms of actual game modes, Tetsumo Party doesn’t exactly have much to shout about. If you’re after a story, then you’ll be out of luck as there is no story, no background, or any real understanding as to why you’re currently forcing a fully sized adult sumo through different shapes in oncoming walls. But you are, and you can either do so in single-player, or with up to four players in local co-op or competitive action. Playing cooperatively is as simple as assuming control of a limb and working together to ensure each limb is in the correct position. It’s essentially the same as what you’ll be doing solo, but with responsibility limited to just one limb rather than all four. As for those who want a competitive edge, then you’ll find you can go head to head to see who can make it through the most walls before succumbing to eventual defeat.
For me, one thing that has stood out is the visual style and artistic design that has been applied within Tetsumo Party. Overall, it’s a very basic design with backgrounds limited to flat and lifeless sceneries and objects, with the only real change being the character movement and the oncoming walls that move towards the player. Whilst our character is shown only from behind, sporting a Sumo thong and presented as a blocky and uninspired design, it does just about justify the appearance of a sumo wrestler. Now of course, basic doesn’t mean bad, but when there is very little to inspire from game mode, to gameplay, to the visual and artistic design, then you know there needs to be something a little more. Sadly, Tetsumo Party never really picks up beyond trying to ensure the longest streak possible when manoeuvring your Sumo into assuming the correct position for the next encroaching wall.
To take your mind away from the rather bland gameplay approach however, there are a few odd little things to focus on. One of which are pickups, which are brought into play via a waiter who comes across the screen, before dropping powerups that can action such things as slowing down oncoming walls; obviously this can make things a little easier when trying to race between positions after each wall.
And strangely, another thing that pops up from time to time is the need to frantically race to pull your sumo’s pants back up after they begin falling. Whilst not necessarily enjoyable, it is a nice little comical touch to what is otherwise an overly repetitive and mind-numbing experience.
Should you be after a game that can provide hours of fun or even some engaging experiences with friends, then Tetsumo Party on Xbox One isn’t likely to be your go-to game. It has a nice idea and if done better – dare I say maybe even with Kinect from back in the day – we could have been looking at a very interesting game. Sadly, that’s not the case and within just a few minutes of play, you’ll have seen everything you’re going to experience in Tetsumo Party, and none of it is exciting enough to keep the attention for more than a few minutes at a time.