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Cranium Kabookii (Wii)

Rated: 3+.

Story: Kabookii is a quiz game, so there isn't really a story. Teams must score points to raise their mascot into the air, enabling it to reach a pull cord and, er... switch on a light...

Gameplay: The game is played in teams so REQUIRES AT LEAST FOUR PLAYERS but only one wiimote is used. Each turn, one member of the current team flicks the wiimote to spin a carousel and randomly select a mini-game. The team play the mini-game. If they win, they get some points. Win or lose, play moves to the next team.

There are 15 different mini-games. These include such things as answering multiple choice questions, solving anagrams, finding countries on a globe or repeating a sequence. Members of a team discuss the answer together and one of them enters the answer using the wiimote. Other games require playing a tune or drawing. In these, one member of the team looks at the screen through a special mask to see what they have to draw/play and gets cracking; the rest of the team must guess the answer within a time limit. A couple of the games involve miming actions using the wiimote.

The mini-games get harder as the game progresses but success brings more points. The first team to reach 24 points wins.

Save System: There isn't one. Yep, that's right, there's no way to save in the middle of a game. What were they thinking?

Comments: Playing mini-games on the Wii as a family is fun. Wii Sports and Wii Play have shown the potential. Countless other efforts have tried to build on it. It's difficult to think of a game that's really hit upon the ideal mix of accessibility, interaction, fun, depth and 'waggliness', though. There only ever seems to be flashes of brilliance amidst uninspired ideas and poorly thought out motion controls.

Kabookii is no exception.

When it works, it's great. When it doesn't, you have to wonder whether they actually got any families to play-test it.

For a start, it's tricky. Finding three countries that are permanent members of the UN security council on a globe in under a minute is probably beyond most primary school children. Finding three countries beginning with 'N' in the same fashion is probably beyond most adults. Finding Mauritania was certainly beyond me.

Other questions make references to American TV shows like The Sopranos and Six Feet Under. The pattern matching is hard and the sequence memorisation is nearly impossible if the other team starts talking. An adult on each team is pretty much essential for progress.

On top of that, the mini-games that involve acting things out don't work. A picture appears on the screen and the player must hold down A on the wiimote and mime the action. The game nearly always ignores them, however. The problem is, when presented with a picture of a shovel standing in some dirt, it's unclear what to do. There's no clue as to which way to hold the wiimote or what motion to replicate and the result is usually frantic, random motion in a desperate effort to hit upon the correct form of waggle. Expecting six successes in a minute is a joke.

Enthusiasm is further drained by the weird scoring. Answering a true/false question correctly near the end of the game can bring 6 points, while completing five rounds of sequence memorisation near the start only brings 3. Worse, if time runs outs during a challenge, the team gets nothing, no matter how much they managed to accomplish. This is demoralising. Oh, and since it's a straight race to 24 points, the team that goes first has an advantage.

Realistically, winning is a lottery.

And yet...

There are still those flashes of brilliance. Drawing and spray-painting with the wiimote is fun and a few of the mini-games do things that wouldn't work in a non-electronic format. There's one drawing game where the lines vanish after a few seconds and another which uses stickers. The tune and sequence challenges are also fresh.

If only they'd thought it all through a little more. Ho well, maybe the next mini-game collection will be the one...

Conclusion: It's mildly entertaining in its own way but it's a little too broken to really recommend. You'd be as well to switch off the Wii and play Cadoo or Pictionary or Charades instead.

Graphics: The presentation is cute but the graphics in the mini-games are functional more than anything else.

Length: A game with two teams takes around an hour.

Rating: 2/5.

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