Moreso A Gathering
It’s hard to believe the Mario Party franchise has reached it’s tenth major installment. It has been 17 years since young (and old) gamers were shoving their copy of Mario Party into the Nintendo 64, experiencing a bevy of delightful minigames across colorful and imaginative boards for the first time. Nintendo has since made adjustments to keep the franchise fresh throughout each sequel in hopes of re-creating the magic they sparked in 1998. Now that the party game franchise has reached double digits in entries, has the charm worn out it’s welcome ?
With a more powerful machine running it Mario Party 10 looks great. The tried and true Mario 3D land art style meshes well with the boards and games, the pipes glimmer under the sun while the Toad’s run about the background. The HD does wonders for the 4 player split-screen minigames, gone are the days of having to squint or move closer to the TV to decipher whatever is happening. In spite of the technical upgrade the game runs smoothly, loading games and boards with relative ease.
The minigames are just what you would expect from a Mario Party installment, ranging from racing down an icy slope, working in tandem with a partner to maneuver a wheel downwards or teaming up with 2 players to fire cannons at a stranded fourth player trying to evade fire. They’re fun, short and use the Wii Remotes’ motion control for what it is, kooky fun. The only problem is why the game persist on not letting the players play them that often. Rather than playing a minigame after each player has rolled, games are only initiated when a player lands on a minigame pad, which are scattered sparingly. It’s perfectly possible to play an entire board without any minigames.
It wouldn’t be a major Nintendo release without amiibo support ! Nintendo’s adorable toys to life enjoy a significant role in Mario Party 10, earning their very own party mode. Amiibo Mode uses certain compatible Amiibo’s to build a small, round board for players to navigate. Instead of the linear boards in Classic Party Mode, Amiibo boards take a page from the Mario Party titles of old, having players compete for stars across 10 rounds. As usual, dice rolls dicate how far your character will travel, ultimately landing on squares that will lead to bonuses, coins (given or taken) and minigames.
Each Amiibo affects the board in a unique, respective way; scanning Mario will yield a grassy board littered with goombas and blocks, while Luigi will create a board infected with boos and spooky trees. These aren’t simple aesthetic adjustments, as each board comes with different power-ups. Items such as the mushroom (found in Mario’s board) grow players in size, letting them steal coins from each player they pass. Mixing 4 different amiibos will create a board divided into quadrants, each playing homage to their respective amiibo. Non-compatible amiibos will give a handful of coins, which can be used in the shop to purchase characters and other goodies.
Bowser Party Mode
Bowser Party Mode ups the anti of the traditional Mario Party format by adding a fifth player and all the power they can wield a la the Gamepad. As the name suggest, the fifth player takes contol of Bowser as he attempts to catch the players and deplete their health in special minigames and traps placed around the board. Bowser minigames might as well be an average 4 player minigame with an emphasis on survival instead of competition. They may give player 5 lots of power, but offer little to do aside from tilting the Gamepad or tapping on the screen. Few offer fun mechanics, such as one that has player 5 using the gamepad to get Bowser’s POV while blowing in the mic to simmulate blasting fire at the scouring 4 players. While some have very little to do such as a minigame that has the party try to dodge oncoming Bullet Bills being shot from 3 cannons, instead of controlling the cannons, player 5 simply taps 3 slot machines to fire at random.
Unfortunately Bowser Party Mode is not exempt from Mario Party 10’s efforts to keep players from enjoying minigames. To trigger minigames, Bowser must catch up to the party as they flee together in a vehicle, each rolling their own dice. Luckily Bowser gets 4 die aswell, and will even be given more dice if he starts to fall behind, but don’t be surprised if an entire game is played without a single minigame prompted.
Player 5 is given all the power Bowser would have, being able to place traps on the board for the party to encounter. Anything from spraying graffiti on blacked out paths in the hopes of tricking the party into taking the more difficult paths to turning on a handful of furnaces without the group knowing to knock off a few hearts is all in good fun. The party is given some assistance in the form of special dice (slow dice, 4-5-6 dice etc.) and chests that reward extra hearts.
Remember when playing Mario Party meant testing friendships ? There is nothing worse than when someone passes boo and steals a hard earned star with so much as a few coins. For better or for worse, Mario Party 10 continues the trend of forcing all players travel as one across the board (except in Amiibo Mode). The lack of strategy and options to choose different paths takes it’s toll on the longevity of the handful of boards available.
Gone are the star stealing boos, the game changing items and complex almost maze-like boards. Mario Party 10 embraces the movement towards less competitive rounds that Mario Party 9 started. As fun as minigames have they have very little impact on the results of the game aside from bonus stars at the end.
Mario Party 10 can be a lot of fun, provided the game lets you play the minigames. As usual minigames are simply a delight, having hit their stride with a mixture of simple motion control and NES style controls. The Amiibo support works brilliantly, offering an actual reason to collect new amiibos. It’s too bad Mario Party 10 has been stripped of it’s more competitive mechanics, as a result the experience becomes stale very quickly.
-Smart amiibo integration
-Bowser party mode
-Boards are short and too simple
-Significant lack of strategy
I-nfrequent use of minigames