Review by Seagaia
Decent party material - frustrating sub-4-player trash.
Mario Party - ah, a series that never seems to disappear, for better or worse. I recently had a friend over and in a bout of nostalgia, broke out the N64 went through a few classics - Banjo Kazooie, Super Mario 64, etc. We didn't remember much about Mario Party 3, but both faintly remembered that it was a little bit fun. So one blow into the cartridge later, we were greeted by the title screen of Mario Party 3.
First, the game modes. It took me a while to figure out what the game modes were again, but with the multiplayer you had "Battle Royale", "Duel", and "Mini-game". We tried Duel first. It was a strange affair. We ran around a track, hitting each other with our helpers until one lost. An entertaining affair, with perhaps a little bit of strategy, but nothing more than that. My friend rolled 1s and 2s, I rolled 9s and pummeled him into submission. Was that fair? Well, not really. Although I imagine if we had two more friends over, things would have gone much differently.
Now, we tried Mini-game mode. After setting up the AI to "Hard" (Because we're older, more experienced gamers now, right? Right.), and choosing our characters...we were greeted with a bunch of mini-games to choose. Which, if I recall correctly, are unlocked via playing the single-player mode. After realizing that all we could do is pick mini-games and play them once at a time, with no score counter of who won or anything, we opted out and went for the remaining option, "Battle Royale".
Now, Battle Royale is your normal Mario Party affair. The game takes place on a board of sorts, with circle shaped nodes you land on. Four players roll dice to move certain numbers of spaces, and you try to earn coins through playing mini-games, using items, and landing on spaces. The goal is to earn the most stars, and you earn stars by landing on a single star space on the party map and spending 20 coins. So, we did the usual - set the difficulty, picked our characters, and picked the board - "Waluigi's Island".
After a turn or so, we realized an unfortunate fact - you watched EVERYTHING about the game. Yes, when a computer landed on an item space to get an item, you were the lucky winner of getting to view him play the game. Every. Single. Time. This quickly got annoying, but really wasn't anything ruining the game too much.
But then the mini games - oh, the mini games. We set the AI to "hard". The AI, well, was spotty and all over the place. On the tetris-esque puzzle game, we were obliterated by the computer as they set pieces with ungodly speed. Listening to the helium infused voice of a midget yell "FINISH!" or "START!" also got annoying quickly. But the computer AI only seemed to be good at certain games. Other games, they struck us as mentally crippled - a bongo rhythm game where the pattern was always B-A-B-A....and the computer quickly messed up. Otherwise, the computer was unforgiving and slaughtered us.
Anyways...all in all, the AI of the mini-games, was, well, spotty. And the games played a huge role on the overall game. Sometimes, you landed on "Battle spots", where a goomba steals 10-20 of everyone's coins, and then you get to play a game which MIGHT BE BROKEN AND BIASED TOWARDS THE CPU so you the computers win 60 and 20 coins respectively, unless you're lucky enough to stop them.
I'm also confused about the probability system of this game. Often, computers would roll just well enough to land on a strategic spot, or make it to a star. That, or they would win items which were very useful, and when it came time for "Action Time" (where on the game board, you land on a spot and must time something to move on), no matter how difficult the action was, they would always end up going in the right direction.
But okay. The humans still prevailed (well, my friend didn't end up so well...). We kept our dignity for another game, and exiled this game to the depths of my house.
But now, let's look at it more objectively. This game is, I suppose, a little bit fun. One or two player modes must be masochistic, since you're often laughing at how badly one or more of your friends are getting screwed. I would imagine, that in four player mode, when everyone is getting screwed/not breaking probability, the game could be a lot more fun. Perhaps, even, it would be a party. As long as no one took the game too seriously.
Okay, a few more things to address. The variety in mini-games is nice. The programming that went behind this must have been huge to make all those different games with different AI. I guess the disparity in AI could be because not every game was made by the same person. Or when they said AI was hard, they really meant "broken". The options room is a bit cute, with the programmer koopas (or dry bones, I don't remember) standing behind their computers. The graphics are decent for the time period the game came from. Acceptable. The music and sound effects fit the game, but neither are memorable, and unsurprisingly, neither is the game. But, considering that I still picked this game up after 10 years must mean it has some shred of replay value. Although your mileage may vary with the quality of that.
Let me just end by leading to my biggest pet peeve about Mario Party 3 - the huge factor of luck in the game. Yes, skill helps a little bit, as does some strategy, but you do rely a lot on luck - in getting the right items to appear at stores, in getting the right die roll to get to the star, getting into a 1 v 3 mini-game and ending up as the 1 in a game heavily biased towards the 3 winning, etc. However, this very well may just be because we set the AI to Hard. I'm sure that maybe the game is moderately fun on Easy (but then again, it might be, well, too easy...), perhaps even still enjoyable on Normal.
So, yes. If you play this game, don't play it on Hard. Or if you do, get ready to be angry. If you play this game, try to bring friends over to play it with you. It'll be much better that way. But don't buy this. Spare yourself. Only play it if you find it at a friends house, and you're all really bored.
When you have so much luck required in the game, the game really just stops being very fun. You start getting angry at it, wanting to rip out the cartridge and throw it through the window - but no. To do that would be giving in, giving in to Luigi, standing there, with his ****-eating grin, winning every mini-game, smiling and saying "I'm the best!", as the bomber goomba flies over him and rains down 40 of your hard earned coins on his head.
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Product Release: Mario Party 3 (US, 05/06/01)
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