Booze and hookers not included.
Dear Gaming Buddies, Hello! It's-a me - Maaarrrio! I'm-a having a BIG PARTY! That's-a right! A BIIIIGGGGG PAAARTY for all-a my friends! And I want you to come! Dere's a-gonna be plenty of fun stuff to do, so you don't-a wanna miss it! If-a you wanna come, then keep-a reading this here review. But if-a you don't wanna come, den I'm-a hurt! You disrespect-a me anna my family! That's not nice! Maybe you have-a an...accident! Maybe a monkey wrench will-a fall onna you head! You better watch-a your back, mister-a tough guy!! Sincerely, Don Mario
Welcome one and all to Mario Party, the latest game starring that lovable little Italian stereotype of a mascot. Mario has been a bit quiet lately, having been resting since the fast-paced Mario Kart hit the shelves over a year ago. But it seems as though the chubby plumber is back, and this time he's in a Board Game!
Or rather, BORED game. Mario Party is a party game with great intentions, but unsatisfying delivery. This is a tedious and often frustrating experience, and its few bright spots get squashed under the weight of Mario's fat, boring ass.
No Mario game is complete without a plot (sheesh). Perhaps inspired by a few too many magic mushrooms, Mario has decided to throw a party. When all of his friends show up, they begin to discuss who's the biggest star. Before things get bloody (darn), perennial non-star Toad suggests they travel through the Warp Pipe to 'other places' and do good things. Eventually, one of them will be deemed the Super Star! Ha! Are you loving this as much as I am?
Mario Party is an interactive board game. Like all recent Mario games, this one has more cameo appearances than a Woody Allen flick. You'll be able to play as or against Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Wario, Peach, and Yoshi. How cozy.
Gameplay is straightforward. You roll dice and move around a colorful game board. The goal is to collect coins and eventually buy stars from Toad. The one with the most stars at the end of the game is the 'Super Star.'
I'm not going to go into depth about the play, because frankly it just isn't very deep. Like most board games, randomness takes center stage over skill. Roll the dice well, and it's hello stardom; roll poorly, and you'll be pulling out your hair within minutes.
Nintendo attempts to even things out a bit by including Mini-Games. Mini-Games are played when you land on a Mini-Game space, and it's here where you actually get to flex your gaming muscles a bit. The Mini-Games are pretty much little arcadey diversions. One might have you playing a platform game, while another engages you in a version of 'Simon Says.' You'll race bobsleds and mine carts, play slot machines, and even go fishing. The variety of games is impressive, with over 50 to play.
You can, in fact, disregard the board game and choose to play on 'Mini-Game Island.' This is a one player affair that pits you and a CPU controlled partner up against the 50 Mini-Games. However, none of the games are particularly exciting, and when you take away the competitive edge the board game offers, they look and play even worse. Adds variety, but not quality.
The key to a game like Mario Party is in the multiplayer. I checked this game out in several multiplayer atmospheres - with 2 coworkers, with my girlfriend, and even at an actual party. While good for a few laughs, everyone tired of things fairly quickly, myself included. Even large quantities of alcohol didn't seem to help. The randomness of everything keeps everyone involved, but it gets incredibly irritating being way out in front only to land on the wrong space and lose everything to an opponent.
In a major design faux pas, someone decided that the only way to play the board game is with 4 players. This is okay if you've got 3 friends around, but is a pain in the butt otherwise. If you're only playing with two human controlled characters, the CPU will choose the other two and play them. This means you are often stuck watching the computer roll the dice, move around, and even play in the occasional 1 player Mini-Game (they could have at least simulated this). Playing the game with fewer than 3 real people is terribly boring, and realistically scrounging up 4 people to play Mario Party is harder than it sounds.
Everything else about the game is standard. The graphics are adequate if a bit cheesy. The sound is fine - I especially dug the re-mix of the Super Mario Brothers theme song. Very retro-hip.
In all fairness, Mario Party will have a certain appeal to the younger gamers out there. The familiar faces, simple controls, and random rewards might keep little kids glued to the screen. It's us big kids who will be heading for the hills. Goldeneye, ho!
He's been a plumber. He's been a racer. He's jumped on a million turtles and rescued a million princesses. He's explored the sewers, the jungles, and even the heavens. He's battled giant apes, ridden on the back of a dinosaur, and demolished legions of vicious mushrooms. What more can you say? Mario is a Renaissance man. But I think it's about time for him to take an extended vacation and give the gamers a break already. This is one dead party.