Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mario Party Series

This year has flown by way too fast. I even missed the chance to post about something I'd been wanting to post about around the time I'd been wanting to post it. Why? Because this year, three game series had their tenth year anniversary, and they all feature Mario. Those series are the Mario Sports series, the Mario Party series, and the Super Smash Bros. series. I'll be talking about them, starting with the first one that was released: Mario Party. I won't be doing long, drawn out reviews for every game in my posts, but I will at least say something about a game in the series if I've played it. Anyway, let's get started.


I remember not even thinking much of this game at first because I didn't know what it was about. I remember seeing the commercial for it, but it didn't truly give much info about the game. I was a little girl back then, and I wasn't reading gaming magazines yet. My cousin was, though, and I asked her about the game. She said she never read up on it, so she couldn't tell me at the moment. At that point, I really wanted to try it just out of sheer curiosity. That was also around the time that my parents started getting into the habit of renting movies. The first time I went into the rental store, I noticed the video game section and was drawn to it immediately. I didn't have a Playstation, so I just looked at the Nintendo 64 section. I spotted Mario Party, but noticed most of them were gone. At first I thought they actually were all gone, but spotted one left and grabbed it. I pleaded with my mom to let me rent it. Luckily, I was with my mom, so she allowed me to check it out. Otherwise, if I was with my dad that I was with, he probably would've said no. Anyway, that made Mario Party my first ever video game rental, possibly even my first rental ever at a video rental store (if I remember correctly).

When I got home and played it, I was amazed. I had to show my girlfriend as soon as I could. I was able to show her the game the next day, and we played together all day. Soon, we had some friends come over and play with us. It was the first game we all played together like that since Mario Kart 64. Even my cousin came over to play it, and she liked it. Of course, we had to send it back to the video store after a week of having it. Fortunately, my birthday was coming up, so I asked for it and got it.

Now I realize I've talked a lot about how I got the game. Now I should talk about the actual game.

The video game is basically a board game video game with mini-games mixed in between turns. Usually, it's whoever wins the mini-game gets ten or more coins, but every now and then, there's a twist, such as a game simply about collecting coins, one-on-three games, two-on-two games, and even single player mini-games. But it's not just about coin collecting. It's also about collecting the most Power Stars, and if you wanted to win, that's what you had to do. There were usually obstacles in the way, especially if you hit the "guess" spaces, which caused events to happen that could interfere with your progress. This made the game depend a lot on luck just with the board game part, but even some of the mini-games depended on luck. Sometimes the computer players knew what to pick sometimes, though, like with the "Pipe Maze" game, and that pissed everyone off. It made single player a lot less fun. However, despite what most game critics will tell you, it's not like the fun completely leaves the game if you're playing single player, it's just that multiplayer is better, hence the word "Party" in the name of the game. At the same time, though, once you beat the game, unlocking and buying everything, the single player aspect does pretty much lose most of the value that it once had, and at that point, multiplayer truly is the only thing that keeps the game fun at all. This is true not only for this game, but for every other game in the series.

Wayne and Garth could improve a party.

Anyway, there are more to the board game aspects, such as item boxes that you can buy and use, but those aren't entirely necessary. Besides the board game aspect, you can play the mini-games individually if you don't feel like playing through a board game just to play them, and you can pick which one(s) you want to play. There's also the most fun single player experience of them all: Mini-Game Island. It's simply a mode where you travel around an island, landing on different spaces and play mini-games. On the last space, you get to face Toad in Slot Car Derby. If you beat him . . . that's it. You just beat him. You can challenge him again anytime, but you don't unlock anything, learn some kind of secret, etc.

First, our princess is in another castle, now this. Thanks again for the false hopes.

Most of the mini-games are easy enough, although sometimes the computer players overbear you, particularly in the harder mini-games. Which brings me to probably the only really bad aspect of the game: the control stick controls. Not only is it sometimes awkward to move the character with it, but there are several mini-games, including the infamous Shy Guy wind-up toy, that require you to rapidly spin around the control stick in a circle. This causes blisters, and I even got one on the palm of my hand while playing what I consider to be the worst mini-game in the game: "Tug o' War." It's a mini-game where you either play as a person in a Bowser suit against three people, or you play as the three people against the person in the Bowser suit. Either way, the mini-game is hard to the point where you have to be quite fast at spinning the control stick, even when facing the Easy computer players. Because of this, getting a blister while playing that mini-game isn't too hard to do.

I'm not the only one.

The last thing I want to discuss is the characters. You can select from Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, Wario, and Donkey Kong. Choosing different characters would be nice, but there are two problems. The minor problem is that there aren't very many characters to choose from. The major problem is that the characters, other than the way that they look, are essentially not different at all. It would be nice is, say, Mario could be an average character (maybe use fireballs), Donkey Kong were stronger than other characters, Yoshi could use his tongue or throw eggs (or both), Luigi could jump higher than the other characters, Peach could float in the air for a short period of time, and Wario could be generally useless. He could be slower and barely able jump (because he's been consistently the worst character in the Mario spinoff games).

Useless.

But you know what, whenever Luigi is selected as a computer player (any difficulty), I swear (literally) that he fucking cheats like crazy. Every time fucking time that he's fucking selected he fucking seems to fucking get fucking lucky almost every fucking turn. Fuck! >:( However, there's a way around this. You can easily switch from one character to another through the pause menu. Sometimes it's a blessing, especially when encountering cheating motherfuckers like computer player Luigi.


Now, I didn't make that video or anything, but I figured I'd help demonstrate the kind of thing that typically happens to me whenever I face Luigi in a game.

Despite any shortcomings, the game is still quite fun. I haven't played it in over a year since I unlocked every mini-game (the last thing I did to complete it), but my girlfriend has been feeling nostalgic about it lately and wants to play to relive some good times.


This was definitely one of my more anticipated games that came out in 2000. I didn't even think Nintendo was going to make a second game, but once they did, I definitely wanted to play it. I was hoping for some changes in the problems that were in the first game, like when a new operating system is released, you expect bugs to be fixed. Sure enough, though, not every bug is fixed, and some new bugs are created. That's exactly what Mario Party 2 is.

Better in some ways, worse in others.

The first big bug that was fixed was that the blister-inducing control stick spinning mini-games are gone. There is now more reliance on button-pressing mini-games. This also makes the game much easier. However, the computer players may still overpower you. They're not quite as bad as in the last game, but sometimes you might wonder, "How the fuck did I lose? It's impossible for any human being to move that fast!"

There's also the addition of items that you can use while playing on the boards, such as mushrooms, keys, etc. It definitely adds more variety to the game, and this factor alone makes this game a big improvement over the first game. However, speaking of variety, you not only pick from the same characters in the first game (no additions or changes), there are still no differences in the characters (other than looks, of course). The addition of items makes up for it, but I was hoping that later Mario Party games would eventually change this factor, if there were going to be anymore (which was likely, and there were certainly more).

There are a lot of new mini-games, and there are even some that came from the first game, although they were somewhat restyled, which I thought was cool. Thankfully, a lot of the best ones were the ones brought over. On the other hand, although most of them are easily unlockable and buyable, the duel/battle (can't remember which) mini-games are the hardest to unlock. You have to beat the mini-game adventure on hard mode to unlock them, and I always had a hard time just playing it on easy and normal. When I tried it on hard, I simply couldn't get too far. This is actually a major problem, considering that's all I have left to unlock, and there are some awesome duel/battle mini-games that I'd like to play. To do that, I have to resort to playing them through board games, and the games don't pop up too often, and even if they do, the ones I prefer to play aren't always picked.

Otherwise, this game is like the first one, including the high fun/replay factor. It's still lots of fun, but just like the first game, once everything is locked, the single player experience is nearly depleted. My girlfriend is feeling nostalgic for this game as well, so we'll probably play it after playing the first one.


Like the second game, I anticipated this one as well. Not quite as much, but I did nonetheless. Again, it was worth the wait, and there were even more features added, like new characters. Only two new characters, Waluigi, the most useless Mario character ever considering he's only in Mario spinoff games, and Princess Daisy, who I like to think of as the lesbian princess I'm still waiting on to come out of the closet and get together with Princess Peach for a good time. Come on, Nintendo. You could use the diversity considering the lack of other minorities. Seriously, they have predominantly straight caucasian characters, mostly with blonde, brown, or black hair. Honestly, except for Ganondorf, I can't think of anyone else who's black, yellow, tan, gay, lesbian, even fucking ginger! You have Princess Peach, a blonde, and Princess Daisy, a brunette. You make Super Mario Galaxy and decide to make yet another princess. Sure, why not? A good idea would be to color her hair red or black to really differentiate her from the other two. Nah, let's color her hair blonde and make her look almost exactly like Princess Peach. Bullshit! >:(

Seriously, they've gotta be related.

Anyway, it's nice to have extra options. However, the characters still don't have their own unique character traits. Well, actually, in one mode they do. A mode called Duel. It's a mode where you use various Mario enemies to do battle with another character's Mario enemies, and they each start out with different characters. It's kind of like a watered down version of Pokemon with Mario characters, but it's actually quite fun to play. Sadly, the characters don't vary in any way ever again in a Mario Party game, and this mode doesn't appear in anymore of them, either. This means that Mario Party 3 is the only game in the series in which the characters are different in even one mode.

This is also the first Mario Party in the series to allow teams. My girlfriend was real happy about that. She always preferred teaming up with me as opposed to competing with me. Because of that new option, we haven't played against each other much in the game series since. If anything, I feel the same way as her, though. After all, we do love each other very much. ♥

But the biggest change of them all is a single player adventure mode, where you play every board through and eventually face Bowser and beat him. It's definitely a unique mode, although some people bitched and moaned about it because they still thought the game wasn't fun enough in single player. If anything, it added to the replay value quite a bit, although, once it was beaten, it still lost much of it's replay value. However, I will admit that it does get annoying after going through it for a while, until towards the end when you finally reach Bowser's board.

Other than that, there were no major changes in the game. It was still a lot of fun to play for sure, especially because of the team mode. Like the other two games, my girlfriend is nostalgic for this one as well, and is the last one she wants to play. She said if we had to play another Mario Party after this one, then it would be Mario Party 4, but that's apparently the limit of her nostalgic feelings for the Mario Party series. I feel the same way.


For new changes, there was the Extra Room and the Present Room, which aren't important, but still neat. The Extra Room has some cool extra mini-games, including a volleyball tournament, which my girlfriend and I have never won because the computer players eventually become nearly impossible to beat. As for the Present Room, I still haven't gotten every present, because I haven't beaten the adventure mode with every character, so I haven't unlocked the thing in the Present Room where there's an empty space. Kinda stinks, but playing the adventure mode eight times over is something I'd rather not do. Again, the character's aren't different, so there's no point in having people do that. Otherwise, I probably would've played it eight times already.

One other new thing is that you can use mini and mega mushrooms to crush other players and take coins from them, but you can skip stars and stores while doing so. With the mini mushrooms, you can access otherwise closed off areas of the map. In fact, that was one of the main things advertised about the game around the time of it's release.

Big deal...

Over little change.

Otherwise, there's hardly a difference in gameplay. To my girlfriend and I, it has some nostalgia factor, but otherwise, this is essentially when Mario Party started going downhill. It's still not a bad game overall, though.


There are new characters, but at this point, it doesn't matter anyway. There are also items you use from collecting orbs that you can place onto different spaces of the game board, which adds more strategy. There's a cool mode where you can build your own car and use it to fight other cars, which is actually quite fun for a while, easily one of the better extra modes in any Mario Party game. So pick this game up if you want just one Mario Party game on the Gamecube, because it's the best Mario Party game on the whole system.


It comes with a microphone, and features mini-games using it. So that means that you can now justify literally shouting at Mario to do what you want him to do instead of just shouting at him and fucking up with the controller or something.

FUCKING GO LEFT, DAMN IT!

Otherwise, nothing is new (that's worth noting or even playing for, at least). It's okay, but don't feel bad about skipping.


Yet another Mario Party that includes a microphone. There's also the possibility of eight players playing at once, but it's just two people holding one side of the same controller. Other than that, there's nothing new worth noting. Overall, if you have all of the previous Mario Parties, don't feel too bad about skipping this one, either.


With the Wii's motion controls, it does add more uniqueness to the game, but overall, other than the the motion controls, there's not much worth noting. It's still interesting and fun to play, better than the previous two entries for sure, but again, don't worry about missing this one. Maybe give it a rental.


This game is the most underrated in the series. People complained, again, that Mario Party is much more fun in multiplayer, but the single player isn't too bad here, and does have an alright replay value, but just like every other Mario Party game, it's replay value is almost gone once you beat the game and unlock everything.

I will admit, though. The controls for some of the mini-games are pretty bad, especially the pogo stick mini-game. It took me a while to finally beat it even once because the controls are so atrocious. For the most part, though, the mini-game controls are alright.


Alas, those are all of the Mario Party games that I've played. I know of Mario Party DS, but I've only played a Wal-Mart demo. It seemed that it'd be decent, and I've heard it is the best one released since the early Nintendo 64 games. Judging from what I've played, I can believe it.

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That makes ten games total in the series, and another game hasn't even been announced, at least not yet. This is unusual considering that they're usually released once a year. I hope another game's not released, though. Ten is a good number to stop at, and considering Mario Party DS might be the best game released since the earliest one, I think at this point that game is probably the best way to go. Even if another one comes out, my girlfriend and I might still try it out just out of sheer curiosity, but even if another doesn't come out, we'll still be playing the rest of them, particularly the first three. It's hard to believe that it's already been ten years since the first game came out, though. I feel as if it was yesterday, playing with my old friends and my girlfriend on weekends eating snacks, getting blisters on our thumbs from playing it so much.

The Mario Party series had a decent run. It was great at first, slumped along the way, and became good again right towards the end. Let's hope it stays that way. Nintendo, we like Mario Party, but please, spare us of any more.

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