Cranium Kabookii

Written by Joe Martin

January 19, 2008 | 08:13

Tags: #board #casual #family #party #wii

Companies: #nintendo #ubisoft

Zelpuz Mite!

Get the anagram in the title above? That’s a pretty good example of the type of puzzle posed in Cranium Kabookii.

The challenges aren’t all based around words and anagrams though, thank God. There’s a whole number of different activities, many of which draw inspiration from the original board game. The four main categories for the game are each personified by a cartoon character and themed with a colour – Creative Cat, Data Head, Word Worm and Star Performer. Each one has a selection of activities in it and spinning the circus' wheel of fortune randomly selects one.

Creative Cat will probably be the most fun game type for most players, especially those who fall into the casual demographic. A single player is selected to be ‘on’ and that person looks at the screen through a set of tinted decoder classes which enable them to see a disguised phrase on the screen. That player then has to communicate that phrase to the rest of their team within the allowed time by either drawing on the screen with the Wiimote or by arranging shapes. Think Pictionary, but in a videogame.

The main problem with the Creative Cat section, which is by far the most entertaining part of the game, is that intelligent players can quickly decode the phrase without the glasses and children in particular may find Wii-sketching a little difficult. The phrases are all very simple for the most part, but the time limit is always very unforgiving. That said, assuming you can trust players not to cheat, Creative Cat puzzles are just as fun as in the board game and my small flat was very quickly filled with the sound of yelled answers and laughter. Be warned though: it’s very hard to resist the urge to just draw rude things all over your TV.

Cranium Kabookii Zelpuz Mite!
The geography puzzles are fun, but I have to wonder about the games proofreaders...

The Data Head and Word Worm categories are a little more relaxing and cerebral in nature, usually just posing simple true/false questions or anagrams which must be unscrambled, but there are some nicely inventive puzzles too. My personal favourite of the lot was the Data Head geography game which tasked players with having to locate a real-world location on an unlabeled globe – great for watching even the smartest brains grind to a halt.

Star Performer was, to our little group, the weak point of the line-up. The general idea for the majority of activities in this section is very similar to charades, albeit with the Wiimote. Unfortunately, the Wiimote is unable to correctly distinguish a lot of the action clearly and more often than not teams were able to bluff their way through by just waving blindly.

The musical activities that are blended in to the Star Performer section are an inventive and original take on the Humdinger challenge from the board game, requiring players to play or repeat simple melodies using the Wiimote. Unfortunately though the time limit in these challenges was again too unforgiving and even when a team had a clear idea of their aim it was very difficult to win honestly.


It’s quite hard to know what to make of Cranium Kabookii because, while to my mind it is clearly the best third-party party game available for the Wii, it’s not strikingly awesome on its own.

The mini games themselves range from inventive and fun to derived and damningly difficult – though they do mostly edge towards the former, thankfully. Games like Cloodle prove themselves to be fairly fun and repeatable and Cranium Kabookii is a game with a certain amount of replayability because of that.Cranium Kabookii Zelpuz Mite!However, at the same time, the game is full of wasted potential and gameplay that’s too simple, often seemingly rewarding players arbitrarily. Despite the colourful, vibrant presentation the game also fails to provide anything that is suitably engaging visually. The developers would have done a lot better to simply recreate the board from the board game rather than to feature coloured tokens.

All of the above is forgivable for the most part though – what isn’t though is the extremely limited scope for play. You can only play Cranium Kabookii if you have four people with you and, even then, you can only play the main game mode. There’s nothing to unlock and the options don’t even let you alter the difficulty of the game. The result is a game which, while fun, could quickly get old for many and which seems to jump between too hard and too easy a bit too much.

If you’ve got a group of people with a wide range of ages and are looking for a multiplayer game that kids can manage then Cranium Kabookii is just what you’d want to look at buying. If you want something a little more flexible and adult-aimed though then you’d be better off keeping your wallet in your pocket.
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