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Trying out five new party video games during an actual Christmas party.


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During this season, it is common for us to attend parties with individuals of different ages and preferences. How can we prevent boredom, conflicts, and ensure everyone has a good time during Christmas? One option could be a video game, particularly a party video game. However, is it feasible to instantly engage people of all ages in a dancing, singing, or fighting game by downloading it?

To find out, I invited a bunch of friends and their kids around to my house to test five new party games. This is what we discovered …

Rewording: The game Just Dance 2024 will be available on PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox Series S/X.

‘A fun and chaotic experience’ … Just Dance 2024.

For over ten years, Ubisoft’s dancing franchise has garnered a dedicated following. In the modern era, players must download a motion-tracking application and dance while holding their phones. To participate in a game session, each player must log in on their mobile device with a unique six-digit code. However, those without Ubisoft accounts will all display under the same username as the game’s owner, with added numbers to differentiate. It was not initially clear how to modify this, making it challenging to determine who achieved the highest scores (spoiler alert: it was me).

The actual gameplay was enjoyable and unpredictable. You select a song and mimic the movements of the character on the screen to earn points and praise for accurate execution. The game includes 40 songs, spanning from recent hits like “Wet Leg,” “Blackpink,” and Miley Cyrus, to older favorites such as Pussycat Dolls, Britney Spears, and Fall Out Boy. Additionally, you receive a complimentary month of access to Ubisoft’s subscription service, Just Dance+, which offers even more tracks. This should provide enough entertainment for the holiday season.

The writer Keith and his wife playing Just Dance 2024.

Certain songs enable a group of two to four individuals to dance simultaneously. The adorable two-person choreography for Olivia Rodrigo’s “Vampire” concludes with a prolonged embrace, making it a desirable aspect for those who enjoy adding a touch of unexpected romantic tension to their holiday gatherings.

One highly valued feature was the option to sort the track list using various filters such as “no jumping” or “small space”. Certain dances were also available to be performed while sitting, which was a great option for those with limited mobility. While some of my guests wished for a wider selection of rock tracks, and occasional re-pairing of phones was necessary, we still managed to have an enjoyable hour of uncoordinated fun.

This game is available on Windows and Xbox, and it is called “Party Animals.”

‘The kids were weeping with laughter’ … Party Animals.

Absurd team-based combat games have been a popular addition to any gathering since the release of Gang Beasts in 2014. This charming newcomer pits adorable animals like kittens, puppies, and gorillas against each other in battles within an arena, with a maximum of four players. The creatures are able to use punches and wield items like frying pans to attack their opponents, but the gameplay is slow and comical, resembling intoxicated sports mascots playfully fighting after a few drinks. You can battle in various locations such as ancient ruins, on the wing of a plane, and in a laboratory with a powerful black hole that pulls in unsuspecting fighters. The game is filled with clever details, and both children and teenagers played for hours, laughing uncontrollably as they chased each other with baseball bats and plungers.

Join us for Let’s Sing 2024 on PlayStation 4/5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series S/X.

Let’s Sing 2024 screenshot

After the downfall of Sony’s popular SingStar franchise, this has become the preferred annual karaoke game for most players. The setup is straightforward: you can either purchase the game with a USB microphone or utilize a downloadable app that allows your phone to act as a microphone. The game includes 35 tracks, but also offers a free month of access to the VIP subscription service, which constantly adds new songs. The free selection is decent, featuring artists like Billie Eilish, BTS, and Lizzo, but it lacks classic hits, which may leave older players feeling excluded. There are also strange choices in song selection, such as including “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas but not “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid or “Let it Go” from Frozen. We also encountered issues with delay, as our voices were slightly delayed after singing, despite attempting to calibrate the microphones.

However, this was the highlight of the night for the adults. Almost everyone participated and it was a truly enjoyable event. At one moment, a friend whispered to his wife, “I haven’t seen you have this much fun in our 25 years of marriage,” which could be seen as either a strong approval of the game or a negative reflection on their relationship. Let’s choose to see it as the former.

Volley Pals is available for Nintendo Switch, Windows, and Xbox platforms.

Bypass the promotion for the newsletter.

‘Older players found it reminiscent of the Atari classic Pong’ … Volley Pals.

Created by Turkish indie studio Naisu, this is an incredibly simple take on volleyball for up to four players. You only need to learn one move – pressing a button to hit the ball – which makes it ultra-accessible for non-gamers. It’s all about timing and positioning, and there are things like troublesome ceiling fans, wormholes and a naughty ghost who steals the ball to add to the challenge. This was really popular with the younger guests, who loved the weird characters and fast-paced, unpredictable action, while older players were lulled into teary reminiscences about the Atari classic Pong.

Reworded: The latest installment of The Jackbox Party Pack, available on PlayStation 4/5, smartphones, Nintendo Switch, Windows, and Xbox.

‘Smooth set up and often hilarious’ … The Jackbox Party Pack 10.

The latest in this long-running series of multiplayer quiz games features five events for up to nine players. Once again, each participant uses their mobile phone as a controller, but this is via a website so you don’t have to download an app, and the process is really smooth and intuitive – lots of brownie points for developer Jackbox Games.

The rounds in this game are diverse, imaginative, and often amusing. Timejinx is a trivia challenge where players must guess the year in which a series of historical events occurred. While these events may have a US focus, they are not impossible for British players to answer. In Hypnotorious, each player is given a specific trait or personality and must answer questions in character. There are also games involving texting and T-shirt design that encourage players to be creative. One of the most enjoyable experiences was playing Dodo Re Mi, a rhythm-action game where each player is assigned an instrument and must play it in sync with a predetermined song. The most entertaining part is when the game plays back the resulting track, revealing a chaotic mix of missed beats and blaring trombones.

Nevertheless, in a rowdy party setting, it proved challenging to capture people’s attention and enforce the intricate rules of the games. Jackbox is an excellent option, but it must be the main focus of your gathering and is most suitable for smaller groups of 10 or less.

What we learned

It is advisable to create two separate areas for hosting games at a party – one for interactive games involving singing and dancing, and another for classic video games that require concentration. For games that utilize smartphone apps, have your guests download them beforehand and remind them to fully charge their devices before the event. It is also important to have an alternate plan in case there are internet connection issues. Perhaps a game of Monopoly could be a backup option.

Source: theguardian.com