We unleashed our Gaming Expert, Shawn Sines, on the next big offering from Wii….

Year after year Nintendo is in the habit of cranking out repetitive iterations of its classic game titles and lately one series of games in particular -- Mario Party -- has failed to live up to its classic pedigree. Every year the company released its family party game, a collection of mini-games linked to a virtual board game and every year the titles got less and less fun. Well, Wii Party, the successor to Mario Party, feels like a new start and brings a lot of the fun back to the party game concept.

This year, instead of launching Mario Party 9, the Mario characters are leaving the Party business. Wii Party embraces the Mii as the avatar of choice, letting players compete using their Wii characters.

Along with a fresh coat of paint and Mii support, the game maintains the mostly successful formula of its predecessors. Players compete while making their way around a themed game board. Certain squares on the board represent game challenges and players are whisked into one of the many mini-games at the conclusion of each round. The mini-games vary in both complexity and organization. Some are free-for-all competition, while others rely on teams or total player cooperation.

The mix is fun and there are plenty of variants to entertain family players for more than a few rounds of Wii Party.

The game makes good use of the motion-based controller. While some games are more traditional experiences, there are challenges that require players to think differently like aiming the Wii Remote like a gun or tilting it like a pole to balance on-screen. Figuring out how the controller is used is fast and easy and players of all ages will quickly glean the necessary movements. Mastering them however, well, that's the challenge of any contest and being more coordinated is not always an advantage in Wii Party.

Wii Party is a great choice of family entertainment. Support for multiple players and ease of the games definitely makes the playing field more level for kids and adults to take part equally. There are a few games in the mix that are either too simple or not fun and the background music is likely to drive you nuts if you play too long.

Overall, Wii Party is a fun experience best played by two or more people of any age.

Rated: E for Everyone, ($50)