Review by Squawkero
"Life of the party."
With 7 Mario Parties on the shelves now, I thought I might go back and review some of the games in the series and what made it such a successful franchise. There were a total of 3 Mario Party games released for the Nintendo 64 before the series moved on to the Gamecube. Mario Party 3 wasn't necessarily as innovative as the first one, but it was and still is a blast to play with friends.
Why do they even bother making stories for the Mario Party games? It seems pointless, not to mention unoriginal. Anyways, Mario and his friends are lounging like lazy slobs after a long adventure around Peach's castle, Suddenly, what appears to be a comet crash lands right next to Mario, sending him flying. As the gang gathers around the mysterious fallen object, Toad informs them that it's the Millennium Star which falls once every 1000 years. Mario and the gang all get in a fight over who should keep it. Suddenly, Lakitu drops a toy box down and everybody is transported inside (like I said, they shouldn't even bother). There, they meet Tumble the talking dice block (*rolls eyes*) and the Millenneum Star who greets them, saying they should battle it out on board maps to see who is really worthy of possessing the star.
In case you're unfamiliar with how the Mario Party series runs, here's the brief lowdown. Up to 4 players can play per game. Each game takes place on a board map which players move around in order to gain more stars thatn anyone else. But the heart of it all lies in the minigames. Minigames are short and quick games which pit players in many odd scenarios.
Up to 4 players can participate in a board game. In this Mario Party, you have the option of choosing between 8 characters: Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Peach, Wario, Donkey Kong, Daisy, or Waluigi. It doesn't matter which one you choose. No one character has a status advantage over the other. You then have your choice of computer settings, etc. Then you choose the board map you want to participate in. There are 6 board maps to start out with, but you can unlock more later. Then you are required to set the number of turns. You can set it for 20, 30, or 50 turns. Once that's finished, you'll be transported to the board map that you chose.
At first, each player is given 10 coins to start out with. Each player takes their turn rolling the dice. The dice blocks are numbered 1 through 10. The number the dice block lands on when hit is the number of spaces your character will move. Different spaces trigger different events. If you land on a blue space, you'll receive 3 free coins. But if you land on a red space, you'll lose 3 coins instead. If you land on a happening space, a random board event will occur, like characters switching positions or stars changing places. If you land on a minigame space, you'll play a one-player minigame for a chance to get extra coins. I'll explain in more detail later. Lastly, is the Game Guy space, something exclusive to this particular Mario Party. If you land on one, Game Guy will fly down and take you to his casino, where you'll be betting all your coins to either double it or lose it all! The goal of each game is to collect the most stars. Stars are located randomly around the board map, and you must move across the board to reach them. Stars cost 20 coins each. There are also ''Bonus'' stars that are given out at the end of each game.
At the end of each turn, all players will participate in a minigame. Minigames are either 4-player, 1vs. 3, 1 vs. 1, or 2 vs. 2. I'll give one quick example of a minigame. Mario's Puzzle Party is a 4-player minigame which is kind of a Tetris-wanna-be. The goal is to drag down colored-blocks attempting to match the colors to break them and rack up points. The first one to 100 wins. New to this game are the Game Guy minigames. If you land on Game Guy's space on the board map, he will fly down, pick you up, and take you to his casino! You will then be placed in one of 4 minigames. These minigames are all luck-dependent. If you win, you'll double your coins! But if you don't, you'll lose it all and a giant mallet will fall on your head!
Exclusive to Mario Party 3 are the duel board maps. They play like a regular board map, except with only 2 players. Each player is assigned a partner based on the character they're controlling, like a Goomba, a Koopa, a Thwomp, etc. These partners will attack your opponents when you encounter them on the board map. These will deplete that player's life points. The goal of the duel boards is to deplete all of your opponent's 5 life points. There are also special duel minigames that occur whenever someone lands on a duel space or when the countdown reaches zero.
Also first appearing in this game is Story mode, which is a one-player version of the board maps. You'll go through each board map and duel map to earn "stamps" from the Millenium Star. Unfortunately, this is VERY long, boring, and tedious. One of the game's main backdraws. First off, you're basically stuck sitting through the computer's turns 3/4 of the time. Second, if you don't place first, you have to do the whole thing over! Youll be taken through every single board and duel map in order to earn your stamps.
Even for the N64 days, these graphics are fairly flat, mainly because the game takes place inside of a toy box. Everything looks like it's made of cardboard. It's rather bright and colorful for the most part (standard Mario textures), but at least they aren't blinding like in Mario Party 4. Though it's hard to look back at the graphics of an older console and be impressed, I must say that it's pretty solid for an N64 game. But of course, the N64 had some better.
Sound is very cheery. Almost a little too cheery. The character voices are pretty well-done for the most part, especially Wario's. ''Ah-ha! Wario is-a dee Superstar!'' The only voice that might get annoying after a while is Tumble's. All he ever yells when you pass him is ''Yeah!'' in a very high-pitched voice. Music is catchy, yet forgettable. The Stardust Battle music is one of my favorites.
In terms of lasting appeal, this game will last you much longer if you're playing with friends. It's called Mario Party for a reason, you know. The countless minigames and board maps should keep you and your buddies up for quite a few nights, turning bedtime into "Mario Party time". The game definitely isn't as long-lived when you're playing by yourself, but what's a party supposed to be with only one person, anyways? Same thing applies for replay value. It's a party game, for crying out loud. With over 70 minigames, Mario Party 3 is sure to keep you on your toes for quite some time.
In the battle of which Mario Party is better than which, Mario Party ranks 3rd, right behind the original and MP4. While it has some of the best minigames in the series (Snowball Summit, Mario's Puzzle Party, etc.), it also has the most clunkers (Boulder Ball, Spotlight Search, and others). Still a very decent party game.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/20/06
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