Mario Party

Platform: Nintendo 64Nintendo 64

Genre: Strategy/War

See also: Mario games

Party hard! 'Mario is back, and he's going to par-tay!

Aren't parties great? Cigarette burns on the furniture, congress between two people who normally wouldn't give each other the time of day under a pile of coats, unidentifiable liquids being tipped into girls' handbags, somebody necking a two-litre bottle of Merrydown on their own and collapsing in a corner, the distant stench of bleach and vomit.

Not in Nintendoland. Anxious to repair the damaged image of the party, Nintendo has gone back to the days when people at parties didn't play games that involved lewd chanting. Mario Party is a video board game that even your great-aunt can play. Up to four players can take part as one of six Nintendo characters (Mario, Luigi, Peach, Wario, Yoshi or Donkey Kong) in a race to collect the most coins and stars from around the six boards before time runs out.

In many ways, Mario Party is similar to Tamagotchi World (issue 11). Having programmed the latter game, Nintendo learned from its mistakes the second time around. There's a multiplayer subgame at the end of each round, as well as plentiful one-player tasks reached by landing on certain parts of the board.

Always Find Me In The Kitchen

Mario Party actually boasts so many 'happy mini games' that the Japanese version comes with a second manual just to list them all. There are 50 games in total, most for all four players at once (if you can't get four people at your party, the N64 takes over for the absentees) and the others for various three-against-one, two-against-two and one-player combinations. There really are too many to list on just two pages, but you can see a fairly good selection dotted around these words.

The games are designed to be simple to play (it's rare that any require the use of more than one button and the analogue stick) and quick to finish. The winner is rewarded with coins, while the losers usually get nothing, or even have to forfeit a few bob. Most of the subgames come and go pretty quickly, but there are a few (the one where the players balance on huge beachballs and have to ram each other off an island, the Beat Mania/PaRappa-slyle orchestra) that could easily have been expanded into full games in their own right.

Gameplay on the main boards is much like Tamagotchi World - roll the die, move that number of spaces, have good/bad things happen depending where you land. The number of turns the game lasts is set at the beginning, but you'd have to be in a real party mood to play the maximum length.

Mario Party is fun, but as the name suggests it's definitely meant for groups of people. Play it with fewer than four partygoers and the computer-controlled player(s) will usually get ahead pretty fast. The Japanese text isn't really a handicap because the sub-games are straightforward enough, but it'd be better to wait for the British release if you're interested.

It's much better than Tamagotchi World, because the sub-games are far more frequent, but Mario Party reflects Nintendo's current policy in Japan of knocking out gimmicky video toys instead of those pesky expensive-to-produce games. Depressingly, it seems to be paying off. Mario Party can be a good laugh with a group of friends, but it's no substitute for the games that made Nintendo's name in the first place. Let's hope this isn't a long-term trend!

2nd rating opinion

This is like buying game at a jumble sale and finding out the instructions are all in French! The sub-games in Mario Party are great - but it would be nice to know what the hell was happening! Good fun, but it's probably best to wait for it on PAL.

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Mario Party Downloads

Nintendo 64 Mario Party download

Plumb-dinger

A new Mario game is usually preceded by at least a year's worth of hype and speculation, but Mario Party has sneaked into the Christmas release schedule almost unnoticed.

A collaboration with Hudson, Mario Party is an intriguingly Japanese mixture of multiplayer subgames built around a central board game featuring just about every major Nintendo character - Donkey Kong, Bowser, Wario, Yoshi, Toady, and Luigi to name but a few. Not forgetting Mazza himself, of course.

As far as our sources in Japan can tell, four players will be able to compete, individually or in teams, in games as diverse as ten pin bowling, cycling, and a multiplayer version of Peach's slides from Mario 64. One of the strangest games appears to be a contest to see who can stay standing on top of a beach ball the longest, which is certainly a first on the N64 if nothing else.

As weird as it sounds, we're really looking forward to this - largely because its use of updated versions of the models from Mario 64 bodes well for the prospect of seeing a proper sequel to the game some time next year. If Mario Party makes its projected release slot, we'll bring you a review just as soon as we can decipher it.

reggie posted a review

In the beginning there were board games... then someone invented the silicon chip and along came videogames. Okay, so a lot happened in between, but you get the gist, right? Now, surely the only reason that board games were invented was because they couldn't at the time do videogames.

Which raises the question, why on Earth would you want to make a videogame of a board game? Quite simply, Mario Party is the answer!

The game offers you a choice of six different boards on which up to four players can battle it out for board game supremacy. These are great fun in multiplayer, although they do become a trifle tedious after a while when you're playing them on your own. You find yourself spending far too much time watching the CPU players make their moves. This was also a major criticism when we reviewed the Japanese version last issue.

Mini-Game Mayhem

However, what we didn't realise at that time -- owing to our rather poor grasp of the Japanese language -- is that Mario Party actually offers a game mode aimed specifically at the solo player.

This mode gives you a unique board on which you can work through the 50 different mini-games on a progressive basis, without the need to do the lengthy dice-rolling main multiplayer game. As well as being an awful lot of fun, this one-player mode serves another important function as it allows you to practice the mini-games.

While some of them are fairly easy, many others - despite their apparent simplicity -- are downright difficult and can take many attempts to master. When you're playing the various board games you usually only get one attempt at a mini-game and then don't encounter it again for quite some time. Having the chance to practice these games is invaluable.

Party On Dude!

The multiplayer board games themselves become a lot more fun in this version, as now it's possible to work out exactly what everything on each board does. While some of it could be deciphered from the Japanese version by trial and error, the workings of some special squares weren't quite as obvious. For instance, when you finish one lap of a board you meet either Toad or Bowser. Toad offers to sell you a star (which is important, as at the end of the game the player with the most stars wins). Bowser, on the other hand, does various things like stealing all your money or giving you a false star which he charges you twice as much for. Though these things seem really obvious now, they weren't quite so self-explanatory when the only clues we had were reams of Japanese text -- we did in fact spend ages first time round trying to land on the Bowser square!

Mario Party is now good fun in one-player mode and has a lot of hidden secrets which you uncover as you play through it, which should keep you coming back for more. Where the game really comes into its own is in the four-player mode, with its variety of colourful and unusual playing environments. There are enough mini-games included to keep you and three friends occupied for a very long time to come and the games, although simplistic in nature, are nevertheless extremely good fun -- many of them are very reminiscent of classic arcade games. Although Mario Party has the look of something which would be suited best to younger children, the sheer addictiveness of the gameplay should make it attractive to all ages. Yet another hit from Nintendo -- keep it up guys!

reggie posted a review
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