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Spin The Bottle Wii U review

"Grab the Rooster"? "Pump Trolley"? You're sure these aren't euphemisms?

Going by the prevailing direction of internet howls, Spin The Bottle is doing everything wrong in its position as a Wii U release. It's not exploiting any great processing power, it uses motion control almost constantly and by god if it doesn't seal the hateful deal by being a party game to boot. Well, the internet can do one. This is great.

The perception of a party game, we'll admit, has been diluted a little in recent years. The idea of inviting friends over for Sports Connection and fondue disgusts us on a number of levels, but KnapNok's take on the genre cuts to the core of what a party is for: having fun with friends.

Up to eight players gather around a GamePad, taking turns to spin the eponymous receptacle, which determines partners for a randomly selected mini-game. Meeting the requirements of that game gives you a flower: collect three flowers and you win. Simple enough. The fun's in the physicality of the games you play and how well you'll get to know one another in the process of playing them.

Joe and Matthew play Grab The Rooster. Listen out for the rooster crowing in one of the Remotes. Whoever hits the buzzer first gets a point.
Joe and Matthew play Grab The Rooster. Listen out for the rooster crowing in one of the Remotes. Whoever hits the buzzer first gets a point.

Knowing Me, Knowing You

That 'getting to know you' ethos saturates the game: it's the reason why there's no concession to single-player modes, why the game's instructions tell you specifically to turn off the TV and why what other people did during play will be what you'll come away talking about, as opposed to the mini-games themselves.

Spin The Bottle takes on a dual role as game and marvellous anecdote machine, and it seems unfair to talk about any of its 14 offerings without saying what they bring about because of their mechanics. The majority of mini-games use one or two Wii Remotes for movement as players perform simple actions.

It's not a remarkably exciting concept, we'll grant you, but when you've played Drill - the game that sees two people grabbing a Remote and whirling about in circles as fast as humanly possible - and Beybladed a recent acquaintance into a chair, you'll get it.

Perhaps you'll move onto Pass the Badger, which places two people on their knees, with their backs to each other, and tests both their friendship and outraged shouting capabilities by tasking them with passing a Remote in a circle overhead and undergroin inside a time limit and without shaking it too much.

Squeeze The Orange. With both hands behind your backs, two players simultaneously hold A and B respectively on a remote. Matthew's cheating, clearly.
Squeeze The Orange. With both hands behind your backs, two players simultaneously hold A and B respectively on a remote. Matthew's cheating, clearly.
It's a minefield of potential social problems (more than a few games ask you to hug or dance with another person, intimacy fans), but a mix of ludicrous activities and an innocent joy in the presentation - our favourite's the way Blind Dog, in which a blindfolded player is directed to a standing Remote, has the controller shrieking if it's close to being toppled - prevent it from feeling in any way lascivious.

You might well just be distracted by how clever it can get. Some games use sound to great effect, like the brilliant Rabbit Hunt, which asks a team to hide remotes around the room that then giggle and buzz as the opposing team searches. Others use the GamePad: Jumper asks one player to watch an auto-running platformer on the screen while a friend with a Remote in their pocket has to activate the necessary jumps.

Monkey Around

You're also encouraged to play with how the games work. Hide the Monkey might ask a lineup of players to conceal an intermittently hooting Remote behind one person's back, but there's nothing to stop them surreptitiously passing it around to stop the player whose turn it is from guessing who has it. There's even the option to turn on built-in Bonus Challenges, which range from something as innocuous as having to sing as you Slow Dance to something as potentially disastrous and/or illegal as forbidding the use of limbs in a game that involves pressing buttons.

There are conditions to all of this. To get the most out of the game, you'd want at least four players and few enough inhibitions to enjoy synchronised hug-leaping. It's also worth mentioning that those poor, oft-joggled Remote accelerometers can't always cope with the speed of actions you're going for, so more exacting players might feel a little hard done by. Finally, the 14 games, while almost universally distinct, can be played in their entirety in a single long session - it's not exactly WarioWare in breadth (although taking a glance to the bottom-left might ease some worries on that count).

Shooting Star. One player controls another by shouting at them to lean forwards or backwards, which controls a rocket on the first player's GamePad.
Shooting Star. One player controls another by shouting at them to lean forwards or backwards, which controls a rocket on the first player's GamePad.
You'll play it in short bursts, though. You'll turn it on not just to play a game, but because you want to play a game with like-minded people. It's an addition to an evening rather than a distraction from it. Spin The Bottle aims to be a true party game and succeeds completely.

Comments

7 comments so far...
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  1. carnivine chaos Tuesday 6th Aug 2013 at 16:49

    Haha wow...

  2. pokefan247 Saturday 10th Aug 2013 at 13:09

    I cant believe a game like this would very nearly get a gold award :?

  3. MatthewONM Saturday 10th Aug 2013 at 13:41

    I cant believe a game like this would very nearly get a gold award :?


    Why not? It's the standout in its field. If that's not worth celebrating, what is?

    I think Joe made a very compelling case for it. Of course, if you don't like party games, you don't need to get it. In the same way, I can't stand football and driving games, but that doesn't mean I don't 'believe' in high scores given to football and driving games.

  4. bigterence Sunday 11th Aug 2013 at 11:12

    A game that I am really enjoying.Yet another offering that ordinary consoles cannot handle.

  5. jarvismp78 Sunday 11th Aug 2013 at 15:04

    sad, sad. games like this should not be on a console and if ONM are really excited about this i am shocked. spin the bottle for goodness sake. go buy a bottle of wine, drink it and invite some sad friends around rather than playing it on what is supposed to be a high end console. I shall now leave you all to salivate over that next big game....wii u karaoke!

  6. bigterence Sunday 11th Aug 2013 at 18:07

    OMG Jarvis.....WiiU Karaoke....BRING IT ON.

  7. blackwhitesoul Monday 26th Aug 2013 at 00:25

    played it with 6 friend the other night so fun! seeing grown men dancing round the living room it's a really fun game that can only be played on the wii u please Nintendo more games with clever use of the controlers

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