Mario has 8 parties under his belt now. With a party being released every year or other year, it is clear that the series was made just to be Nintendo's milking machine and yet, people are still buying into the series, so it must be that great, right? No! It is true that some things should not change if it works, Mario Party barely changed at all and needs something fresh to keep the series going.
For starters, the theme in this Mario Party is a carnival and several games take place in tents. There's at least 12 characters to play with and 2 more to unlock, making this the most diverse party game, although none of them have any special abilities. The Party Tent is where most of the action is at. Here you can do free for alls, team battles, or duels. As players travel the board, landing on some spaces or passing certain characters may trigger events. Bad or good, leave it up to luck to change everything around, which can frustrate players trying to come up with a plan. As usual, players have to grab more stars on the board than other players in order to win. After 1 turn goes by, mini games are played and winners get coins, then the whole cycle repeats. Items are in the form of candy, which give various effects, such as turning into a ball to run over players and steal their coins or rolling 3 dice blocks. There is only 6 boards to play on and you'll get bored of them quickly. Not only that, but a few boards are too similar to Mario Party 7. Example: Koopa's Tycoon board has you invest coins into hotels to own then and own the stars they hold. Mario Party 7 had a board that did the exact same thing, but with windmills. Copy and pasting ideas like this is not good.
If you have no friends or are tired of playing against the AI, there is the Star Battle Tent for one player, which once again, rehashes the same thing from Mario Party 7. You'll fight 6 random opponents one on one and beat them under various conditions, then fight Bowser at the very end. While it can be short sometimes, this mode is simply too boring compared to playing with multiple characters.
The Mini Game Tent is where you can play the mini games by themselves for some quick fun or to play them in various contests, such as winning 7 games before your opponents do. This can be very fun if you just want to play a few quick rounds and playing them in various battles gives them a new spin. However, to really get the most out of this mode, you have to obtain most of the mini games either from the game boards or by buying them.
The Extra Zone has special mini games that can only be played here. They are a bit longer than the standard mini game. What makes this special is the ability to use Miis as your own characters. Just imagine your own creation going against Mario or Peach! However, the games aren't that much better than the other mini games, so you may get tired of them quickly.
The Fun Bazaar is where you can buy additional things and look up records. When you finish playing games in other areas, you will get carnival tickets to spend. Here, you can buy some mini games for the Extra Zone, and figurines which do nothing. Strangely enough, to be able to fight harder AI, taunt players, or even listen to music and sound, you also have to buy them! Why do players have to buy them when those features should be ready from the get go? There is another section where you can buy mini games that you can't seem to get in a randomized pick in the game boards. This is a great way to get mini games you are missing in your collection. Most of the games, features, and figurines that you can buy are overpriced, thus you must play the games many times over just to save enough tickets to buy them all. This is Nintendo and Hudson's idea of replay value seemingly.
Graphics wise, this game looks good, but not for the Wii. There are more details in some characters and models, but it's just more polish and shine, something that the Gamecube could have done. Mario Party 8 was never announced as a Gamecube game then a port (like Twilight Princess), so why can't it look better? The frame rate is also wonky and smooth at the same time. How? Some menus, but mostly the game boards, has the game running in a lower frame rate like Mario Sunshine. When it comes to mini games, the frame rate is smooth like the Gamecube Mario Parties. Why can't the frame rate be smooth for everything? I'm sure the Wii can handle it. Since this game is on the Wii, you would think motion controls would save it, but they just sink with the game. Some of the controls make you hold the remote like an NES controller or twist the controller around like a steering wheel. Most of the forms you use to hold the controller are reused way too much and sometimes the controls are not that responsive. If the Wii is about innovating games, then I don't see it here. Not only that, but the Nunchuck is only used for a few games only, leaving it in the dust and unused.
Overall, die hard Mario Party fans will eat this up while others will simply get tired of the same old rehash. Since this game is based on luck, some players will be turned off by it. Mario Party is mostly multiplayer and single player mode is so boring and bland it might as well been scrapped. With reused graphics and reused concept and ideas for some of the game boards, Mario Party 8 is a party that should have stopped a while ago. Hopefully, Mario Party 9 will be released much later down the road with much more improvements, but that is a slim chance.