Looks like someone bought new decorations!
Its-a meee again! Maaaario! I gotta ‘nother party, and im-a sparin’ no expense.
that crazy Bobby Deniro
(don’t-a look at him funny!), Zombie
Blue Eyes, and even ABE
VIGODA! And I’m-a gonna have a whole messa Goombas to jump on! That
Vigoda stomps one-a mean Goomba.
Just don’t bring that no good stoolie Dr. Moo.
So fuhgeddaboutit and just-a come to my party.
Without warning, the massive Party Cube has inexplicably floated its way to
Princess Peach’s castle. Aboard the cube, Toad and his pack of party people
arrive bearing gifts. It’s somebody’s birthday, and dammit, they’re here to
celebrate! That’s the story of Mario Party 4. It ain’t Shakespeare,
what did you expect? Mario’s last three
parties were weird too, and they weren’t that much fun. Maybe he needs to invite
some cooler guests…like Prince! Picture this: he’s traveled back in time,
circa 1999, and turned himself into a video game character. He’s kidnapped Mario
and friends, imprisoning them in his Purple ‘Reign’ Party Palace. In tears,
Mario’s crew is forced to party their brains out…for real, like with booze
Hey, it’s not any worse than what Nintendo comes up with.
At any rate, here’s the scoop on the Italian Stallion’s latest shindig. Like
we’ve been over before, Mario Parties are essentially board games. You begin
by selecting one of eight classic Mario characters, from the lovable Yoshi to
the hateful Waluigi. Four players, no more, no less, compete against one another
across one of six themed boards to have the most stars by the end of the game.
Each of the four players takes a turn, rolling a number between 1 and 10.
After one cycle of turns, a mini-game ensues. The mini-games are either 2 on
2, 1 on 3, or everyone for themselves, dependent upon what color space each
player lands on. Blue spaces reward a few coins and red spaces take some coins.
Then there are the Bowser Spaces, Reversal of Fortune Spaces, and Bomb Spaces,
which cause varying amounts of coins to be lost, traded, or won, causing the
tables to quickly turn and fits of anger to boil over.
The accumulated coins can be spent at one of the various Store, Lottery, or
Ghost Stops. The stores sell several useful items, such as Mushrooms, Pipes,
and the Genie Lamp, while the Ghost Stop allows you to hire a villainous Boo
for some dirty backstabbing. For the right price, Boo will steal away coins
and even a star.
At the end of the game, three bonus awards are passed out. Stars are handed
out to the player that wins the most mini-games, ends up with the most coins,
and lands on the most Happening Spaces. This sort of evens out the random nature
of Mario Party.
New to the series is the Mini-Mega system, which adds a bit of strategy. Mega Mushrooms allow the player to double in size and the chance to roll twice. If any of the other players is so unfortunate as to wind up in the way, then SQUASH! 10 of their coins are stamped away into your own pocketbook! While big, however, you won’t be able to stop at the store or buy yourself a star.
Mini-Mushrooms shrink your character and limit the dice to a smaller range of
1 to 5. Certain pipes on the board only allow the itsy-bitsy to pass through.
Calculated usage of the Mini-Mushroom can be used to maximize travel across
Obviously, the change to the Gamecube means the look has been updated.. While
the visuals are a significant step up from the N64, they aren’t representative
of what the Gamecube can do. It’s bright and colorful with nice water effects,
but otherwise, textures aren’t greatly detailed. The music and sounds all keep
in line with the happy Mushroom Kingdom.
The make or break element with Mario Party games is the mini-games,
and while there are a lot in Mario Party 4, none really stand out. Most
are grounded in standard button mashing, timing exercises, deft control or some
combination – the bare basics of any mini-game.
Nonetheless, my favorite mini game of Mario Party 4 is Booksquirm.
The players are thrown into a gigantic book where the pages steadily turn faster
and faster. There are small holes in each page that your player must stand under
in order to avoid being crushed.
Another good one is Dungeon Duos, which works well with real players but only
moderately against the computer. Teamed up with another player, you must traverse
a narrow corridor helping each other out like in The
Adventures of Cookie and Cream. In tandem with a real player, the game can
be a hoot; versus the flawless computer, it’s just a chore.
Winning in the blasé single player game nets you little items, which you can
then place in each of the different character’s rooms: TV, couch, fridge, etc.
It’s like Animal Crossing with zero interactivity
– practically pointless besides the collecting angle, and little reason to keep
playing by your lonesome.
Some smaller boards are included if you want to have a shorter match with
alternate goals besides Star collecting. Also included are some single-player
mini games to test your mettle against. But if they can come up with these single-player
challenges, why can’t they come up with some two-player and three-player versions
so we aren’t always locked into having four players?
Mario Party is a game built upon random events; the roll of the dice
controls your fate, just like many board games. The problem is that this clashes
with what most gamers value in video games – control. The random nature of how
quickly the tables turn can be utterly frustrating. You could be winning handily,
only to suddenly get wiped out by a series of unfortunate rolls or events. Things
tend to work out as many times as things fall through the crapper, but when
fate has your number, it’s maddening.
On the flipside, the game can be a lot of fun to play with friends who don’t
usually play games. Treated like a board game and with the right willing mix
of friends, Mario Party is lots of fun.
No envelopes are being pushed here, except the ones containing party invitations.
The formula has already been set in stone, though the added Mega-Mini system
does lend some more control. Still, the mini-games don’t really impress. Mario
Party is really meant for four players and is simply a game you either love
or hate. So that’s that until Mario
Party 5, with or without Prince, gets the party started right.