This party’s a dud.
Hey gaming buddies! Guess-a who!
Guess-a what! That’s right
Huh? Whazzat? You tired of-a
Come on! I’m-a sure you’ll
Huh? Whazzat? You still no
Oh, okay. If you don’t-a mind,
Mario Party has been a surprising staple for Nintendo since
the first bash came out in 1999.Â When
you have the right mix of willing players, the game can certainly be fun. The
mini-games have been quirky and charming and little tweaks have steadily been
added since its N64 inception.
But unfortunately, the party has come to something of an end with Mario
Party 5, a by-the-numbers regressive and somewhat uninspired sequel.
off the bat, there aren’t any huge visual or audio improvements from Mario
Party 4.Â It carries over the fairly standard, efficient cartoon look and
gloss.Â The sounds are classic cheeky, sugary Nintendo. More noticeable are the
change-ups in the character lineup, with Ghost, Baby Bowser, and Toad giving
the big boot to Donkey Kong.Â As annoying as Toad is, I miss his gravelly voice
in his former role as ringmaster of the game boards.
The new game boards are large, but lack the frenetic energy found in earlier
versions.Â Sometimes it feels like they are just big for the sake of being big.Â Even
though the characters move around the board quickly, they seem to drag themselves
from spot to spot. It can be annoying waiting for the CPU players to take their
A new single-player mode tries to alleviate the painful waiting by pitting
you against three Baby Bowsers that move at the same time.Â If one crosses your
path, then it’s onto a duel.Â This is a step in the right direction, but in
a world of instant gratification, it’s not enough to cut the mustard. Irritatingly,
you must also play through the game boards to unlock the mini-games. I just
want to be let loose on a large sampling of games from the get-go.
The new power-up system is here as well, but winds up making the game more
obtuse. A power-up is earned when you pass one of the vending dispenser machines
on the game board.Â There are many random items and the effect of each is not
immediately clear.Â These items can then be dropped on any spot on the board
to attempt to nail a random passerby.
Mario Party 4, the key to the basic mushroom power-up was that
you could grow big and stomp away 10 coins from any opponent you happen to cross.Â There
was a certain strategy involved; do you trigger the mushroom now or wait until
you’re sure to squash a guy in front of you? The drop-and-pray items in Mario
Party 5 lack that edge.
The mini-games are mostly rehashed concepts, with far too many games that
just revolve around mashing a button as fast as you can.Â Twists on that formula
include mashing TWO buttons as fast as you can.Â There are a few bright spots,
but this time, there really aren’t any standouts. Why not revisit previous Mario
Parties and pick and choose the best of the bunch?
Besides the Group game, normal single player, and the single player against
Bowsers, there’s a mode that lets you play the game like a traditional board
game without any mini-games.Â There are also some extra mini-games – volleyball,
ice hockey, a card hopping game – that aren’t as fun to play as the full-scale
Rather than just add longer mini-games, Nintendo should have taken a cue from
the excellent GBA game Wario Ware.Â Now there’s a guy who knows
how to party!Â Wario Ware‘s pick-up-and-play value is brilliant,
yet at the same time throwing you all kinds of creative situations. From picking
your nose to duplicating the best of classic 8-bit Nintendo games, those were
truly inspired mini-games. There was never a dull moment.
Conversely, Mario’s parties have become haggard and tired.Â Mario Party
5 is a step backward for the series with its needless vending machine
set up and bland mini-games. Fans of the formula will still like it, but newcomers
are better off with last year’s bash. Nintendo should ditch or rebuild the game
board, reinvigorate the mini-games, and pump some new life into this series.Â At
least we can look forward to the upcoming Wario Ware for the
Gamecube.Â I think its time to ask for a Wario Party.