Muppets Party Cruise Review

Muppets Party Cruise (MPC), the name pretty much says it all. You have a party game featuring the Muppets that’s set on an ocean cruise. You also get pretty much what you expect: a board game used to tie together a collection of mini-games which range from the somewhat entertaining to the inane. While the game does attempt to add a few twists to the party game standard, in the end it suffers from many of the same problems that plague the genre.

MPC tosses out the traditional game board and dice, instead going with a grid overlaid on one of the cruise ship’s five decks and a pinball style mini-game. At the beginning of your turn you must launch a pinball to determine the number of squares you’ll be able to move. The pinball game resembles the dime store style game with the cardboard backing and plastic pins more than the arcade version, so don’t expect flashing lights and bumpers here. There are numbered slots at the bottom of the board and the slot in which the ball ends up determines the number of moves you are given for the turn.

During your turn you can move to any adjacent square at each step along your move. Most of the squares are empty, but some contain bonuses or warp triggers. Bonuses take the form of cruise credits that also award you with extra moves. Your goal is to make your way to doors along the edge of the board that launch the mini-games when opened. Should you land on same square as another player you’ll compete in a quick game of rock-paper-scissors with the winner stealing some of the other player’s cruise credits. cruise credits can be used to buy extra points to be added to your score in a mini-game or to pay the entry fee to take part in some mini-games.

In addition to the players, other Muppets will make appearances from time to time on the game board. They’ll randomly wander the board for a few turns and then disappear. While a couple of them can cause a player to lose his or her turn should they cross the player’s path, most either just clear the special items from squares or end up doing nothing at all.

The pinball, rock-paper-scissors, and wandering Muppets all seem to have been added to the game in an attempt to make the board game component more interesting. Unfortunately they don’t really succeed at this and instead serve only to drag out the most boring aspect of the game. The problem is that not all that much really happens on the game board so that it feels like everyone is just killing time until someone can launch a mini-game. There are a lot of turns in which nothing happens, and the time required for everyone to shoot their pinball, plot out their move, and for their Muppet to slowly plod along to the last square can feel like an eternity. The wait can be excruciating should you be forced to miss a turn.