We're Gonna Party Like It's 1999! Again.
Hey gaming buddies! Guess-a who? Give up? It's-a me, Maaaaario! And you know what time of year it is, doncha? It's-a party time-a year! Okay, I know what-a you thinking. "Oh come on Mario, how many parties you gonna have?" Well my gaming buddies, this year I'm a gonna try something a little different. This a year, I'm a having a dress-up party!
That's-a right! I want everyone to come-a dressed up as-a their favorite Italian! Frank Sinatra, Vito Corleone, Isabella Rossellini, Captain-a Lou Albano - these are just a few ideas to get-a you started onna the right track. Go ahead an use-a your imagination! But don't any of you come-a dressed as me or my brother Luigi. That's disrespectful. And then we'd have to take you onna little boat ride. I hope-a you can swim in-a cement shoes! Kapish? Love,
I don't know why Mario keeps inviting me to his parties. By now you think he'd have figured out that I don't have very much fun. I mean, his first party was a mess, what with Donkey Kong hocking up a lung after a few too many banana daiquiris. Then at his next party I wound up having to drive Peach home because her and Mario got in some sort of tiff over Mario's apparent infatuation with "jumpin' onna Goombas." He doesn't love her.
But when you get an invitation from Mario, you don't turn it down, unless you're just dying to see the bottom of a nearby lake. And that's how I ended up hopping in the car and driving over to Mario's crib again for yet another party. Were any lessons learned from the previous shindigs?
Yes and no. The gist is the same, but a decent new mode and a slew of new mini games actually makes this the most tolerable party yet...or maybe I just had too much sangria.
If you haven't been to a Mario party, then I suggest you check out my reviews of the earlier ones to get yourself acquainted. If you're too lazy, then here's the quick summation: board game. There. Happy?
As always, there's an incredibly dramatic story built in. It seems that the all-powerful Millenium Star accidentally fell from the sky. OH NO! WHAT THE HELL ARE WE GOING TO DO! CALL BRUCE WILLIS! Or better yet, call Mario and friends and have 'em hover around the star and start arguing about who should keep it. Greedy bastards. Anyhow, the Millenium Star gets the obviously-mushroom-induced idea to throw the plumber and crew into a toy box, where they have to play some board game to acquire Star Stamps in order to prove that they're the worthiest Star of all and then some other crap happens and Mario says outrageously Italian things OH BROTHER MAKE IT STOP.
For the most part, this version is just more of the same. You still pick a character, roll dice and roam around a few different maps, all the while collecting coins and, ultimately, stars. And like past installments, the same pitfalls will drive even the most dedicated partymeister totally insane.
There are two new characters this time around: the tomboy Daisy and the despicable Waluigi, both from Mario Tennis fame. Um, Waluigi? That's his name? Lamest name ever? You betcha. I mean, Wario got his name by inverting the M in Mario, right? But what the hell is a Waluigi? Sounds contagious.
The Mario Party series is all about chance. Roll the dice poorly and you'll just suck; roll well and you'll win. Since the game is primarily for kids, I think the designers wanted to sort of give everyone a fighting chance, even if they stink at video games. That's great for them, but crappy for those of us who actually know what we're doing.
For instance, I was in the lead with a few turns to go. I had three stars and a ton of coins. My nearest competitor, Peach, had 1 star and only a few coins. I was sure to win. Then suddenly Peach rolls a 10 and buys an item that lets her 'steal' one of my stars. So now we're even. Next turn, the witch uses another item to go directly to the next star on the map, which was only a few spaces away from me. Sabotaged. Then I roll poorly and wind up losing all my coins to a Bowser trap on the next turn. From 1st place to 3rd place in a matter of minutes. This game should come with a pillow to punch so as not to break controllers.
Thankfully, there are always the mini-games to offset the random elements of the gameplay. Several seem like repeats, though most are new...and there are 70 of 'em. They range from involving and fun (racing boats or cars) to mundane and boring (pumping up a balloon). There are also single player 'item' mini games that are way too easy. Once again, the only reward for 'normal' mini-games are a few coins (as opposed to stars), making them sort of inconsequential.
However, the person who wins the most mini-games gets rewarded with a star at the end of the match, adding incentive. Still, I think there should be greater variety in the mini-game rewards based on the difficulty of the game. If I beat three friends in a boat race, I should get more than just 10 crappy coins.
There is one new mode here, Duel Mode, that adds an interesting twist. Set on a smaller board, a Duel map allows two players to pick 'battle' partners to travel with. Whenever you meet up with your opponent on the game map, a battle will ensue. You each have a certain amount of health, and based upon the attack/defense ratings of your partners, you essentially try to kill your opponent. It's a much faster paced game than the regular version, and though it still falls prey to seemingly random luck, makes a nice addition.
Mario Party 3 is intended for party play only. In fact, playing with less than two other friends totally sucks. This is due largely to the fact that the normal game still requires 4 players to run at all. You can't play with only two players on the board. To make matters worse, theres still no way to fast forward through the CPU-controlled opponents' turns. Sitting there watching a computer-controlled Donkey Kong play a solo mini-game slows the game down to a crawl and dramatically impacts the fun factor.
But with some friends, there is some genuinely decent fun to be had. Sure it gets annoying watching dumb luck steer the outcome, but the smartly designed mini-games make up for some of the irritation and the Duel maps make it possible for two to have fun.
If you have an earlier version and are sick of the mini-games, then I suppose you should pick this one up. Those new to the series should rent first and test drive with their own little party. I advise bringing along a few bottles of Chianti to get in the mood. Either way, let's hope Mario finds a few new friends before he takes his party over to the Gamecube. This scene is getting old.