Nintendo Finally Gave Us a New Mario Party but is it a Fiesta or a Siesta?
The Wii U’s already impressive array of four-player party games was expanded with the recent release of Mario Party 10. The latest entry in a series that dates back to the days of the Nintendo 64. Although party games are nothing new to the Wii U, does this recent installment measure up or is it too hard to be a super star?
Mario Party 10
Series: Mario Party
Platforms: Wii U
Mario Party 10 is a board game in which players compete in mini games and rolls of the dice block to gather more stars than their competitors. The player with the most stars at the end of the board is declared the winner. It borrows the basic design from its immediate predecessor, Mario Party 9. The four characters share a car and take turns moving in a straight line (but there is the odd detour). This was a departure from previous generations of the series in which players moved independently to chase down Toad to muscle a star out of him.
To be perfectly frank, I didn’t like this method of partying in Mario Party 9 and I still don’t like it in Mario Party 10. There was a huge sense of disappointment among the group when all our characters boarded the same small vehicle. This method makes the whole experience more ‘bite-sized,’ for want of a better term.
Each game is shorter and less of an investment – something that has plagued the series so far. But what it also does is kill off any meaningful strategic interpretation of the game. The chance to strategy ratio is thrown off by giving players control of nothing more than what dice block to use.
Add onto this the fact that unless you land on certain spaces, you don’t play mini games – thereby reducing the overall number of mini games played – and you’ve got a recipe from something that feels a little unsatisfying to play.
I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom about it. Newer players to the franchise will enjoy the fact that the rounds last about twenty minutes instead of sixty. It’s overall less gruelling and not such a crushing experience when you lose. So it does have its positive elements. I can’t help but think that if I wanted a sugary experience or ‘everyone gets a trophy day’ then I’d play Wii Party U.
Outside of traditional Mario Party, the game offers three other modes: Amiibo party, Bowser party, and mini games.
This has always been where Mario Party earned its keep. So much so that even the first game in the series dedicated an entire single player campaign to mini games. Mario Party 10 is no exception. The games are strong and well presented. There are a few, however, that feel like rehashed concepts from other party games but I suppose some overlap can be forgiven.
There’s the obligatory tilt the Wii Remote to knock players off the stage game and the floor is moving, stay on game. On the other hand, there are some incredibly refreshing games. For example there is one in which players must tilt the Wii Remote to get through a maze and activate switches where the complexity comes from the fact that you can’t go past each other.
The screen that tells players how to play each game has taken a huge leap from the three pages of text that earlier Mario Party games gave us. There is simply a picture of how to hold the Wii Remote and then a video that has controls pop up when the corresponding action is performed.
Many times I found myself a little confused about how to play and my lesser experienced friends even more so. More clarification would have been nice as I found it took longer to make sense of the simpler design than to read the three pages of instruction.
I’m thinking that I’ll probably just play the mini game mode because you really don’t get enough of these gems with the party mode.
Bowser Party pits one player against four; and it’s probably the best mode in the game. The group of four take turns rolling the dice block and try to put as much distance between them and Bowser as possible. Then the Bowser player (using the Wii U Game Pad) rolls four dice to catch them. If he does, a special mini game is played where Bowser attempts to reduce the characters’ health to 0.
Bowser Mini Games are particularly well done. It makes solid use of the Wii U Game Pad and makes an interesting dynamic between the allied players. Since hearts are counted individually, there is a very strong sense of competing against each other as well as Bowser.
One game has Bowser spinning slots to select targets for his Bullet Bill cannons and the targets can use each other as shields. Something that’s always worth doing if you have computer controlled players because they’re 10/10 useless otherwise.
Bowser Party can, at times, feel a little unbalanced when Bowser Jr turns up and starts tipping the scales in his dad’s favour. It can be frustrating for the group but we need to realise that Bowser catching up to you drives the action forward and stops the game from becoming a blow out. It also helps cultivate an atmosphere of tension, which can be quite fun.
I really don’t have a lot to say about Amiibo Party. Mostly because I can’t get access to it. I have a small selection of Amiibo that I’ve bought because they were decently made. Toys with brains don’t interest me a whole lot and training that many Amiibo in Super Smash Bros Wii U isn’t exactly fun. But I’ve got three Amiibo and I thought I’d give it a go with two friends. Instead of getting into the game of Amiibo Party, I was given two scratch cards. Because my Amiibo are the wrong Amiibo.
I really hope this game mode is the most fantastic thing in the universe. Because I really question the validity of a game that requires you to have four extra accessories at $17 each in addition to the other four accessories you need valued at $50 each.
Given the scarcity of Amiibo at local retailers as well, restricting this mode is either an insane business practice or just plain torturous. Okay, maybe the thinking is that people will take their Amiibo to their friend’s house to play. If I’m going to have a custom game counter on someone’s Mario Party 10, I want it to by my Link Amiibo…which, wait for it, is only worth a scratch card.
Mario Party 10 is a fine addition to the long-standing series. It gives players what they want: a chance to play a board game with family and friends in which experienced gamers won’t wipe them out. In the same token, however, it doesn’t reinvent the wheel and insists on using the broken wheel that Mario Party 9 gave us.
The mini games aren’t sufficiently deep enough to make up for them being so rarely played and the other modes don’t offer enough. Good for a few hours but only buy it if you’re already bored of Wii Party U.