Review by Jaksiel

"Wait a minute...they kept the WORST parts of MP2?"

After playing Mario Party 3 (MP3) extensively, I am led to wonder exactly what went wrong with this version. I enjoyed MP1 and MP2 immensely, but there’s just something wrong with the latest installment of the Mario Party 3. The game has a lot of minor (and some major) flaws that simply add up to a mess of a game.

The gameplay is essentially unchanged from the previous Mario Parties. You choose a Nintendo character and move around a board hoping to accumulate more stars than your competition. At the end of every turn, you got to play a mini-game. These mini-games are obviously the main reason to play any Mario Party game, as they’re the only time when there’s any direct competition between the players. There are various types of mini-games, such as 4-player free-for-alls, 2 vs. 2, and 1 vs. 3.

MP3’s mini-games are all new to the series, unlike its predecessor. This would be excellent if most of the new mini-games were fun...unfortunately, they are not. Most of the mini-games lack innovation or simply fail to be interesting. For example, in Frigid Bridges, you take a block across a curvy and slippery path. At the end, you place it in the water. You then go back to the beginning to cart another block across, until you’ve placed all three. This, of course, is neither innovative or even interesting.

For the mini-games, they retained one of the worst “features” from MP2: It is not possible to lose coins at the end-of-turn mini-games. It makes the mini-games more interesting to go into one with a chance of winning or losing coins, rather than winning coins or remaining with the same amount.

The absolute worst two mini-games are those which rely entirely on luck, and unfortunately, they’re both Battle Mini-Games. In these, every player puts up either 10, 20, 30, or 50 coins, and it gets thrown into a “pot.” The winner of the game gets a majority of the coins, while second place gets a smaller margin. Third and fourth place get nothing. This is why it makes so little sense to include games revolving around luck. Unless you think it’s fun to arbitrarily lose a lot (and possibly all) of your coins, you’ll began to fear for your money when somebody hits a Battle space.

This sounds bad...yet it’s absolutely nothing compared to the Game Guy spaces. Once you hit one of these, all of your coins get taken from you. All of them! You then play a game which (you guessed it) relies entirely on luck. If you win, you’ll get at least twice your coins back. If you lose...all of your coins are gone. I would really like to find out what “genius” came up with this “brilliant” idea, because it really makes no sense. Hell, even the people you’re playing against will view it as unfair, even though they profit from it!

Despite all these negatives, not all of the mini-games are bad. For example, Aces High is an entertaining game which straps you into a plane and gives you two lives and two different weapons. The last person to survive gets the coins. However, these interesting games are far too rare to save MP3 from the poor games.

The only innovative new feature in MP3 is the addition of Duel Maps. These are one-on-one maps where you and your opponent battle until one character loses all of his heart pieces. To deal the damage (and prevent it), you each get partners. Your opening partner depends on what character you choose, but every time you get back to your start point you’re forced to choose a new partner. Complicating things further is the fact that your partners demand a salary. If you don’t pay them a certain amount of coins every turn, they’ll leave you. This makes landing on a Game Guy space and losing all of your coins even harder to swallow. Inexplicably, Game Guy spaces are more prevelant on Duel Maps than on the Story Maps! As a whole, Duel Maps are very boring, and winning is largely based on luck. You could go a lot of turns without attacking your opponent or being attacked, and then you could suddenly defeat (or lose to) your opponent based on the roll of the die.

MP3 also includes a Story Mode which is best left unplayed. Supposedly, the Millenium Star falls down by the castle, and Mario and friends argue over who gets to keep it. Naturally, the Star suggests playing the board games to determine who gets it! You get a card with seven attributes on it (Strength, Kindness, etc.) and after every board in which you are victorious, you get a star corresponding to each attribute. Before you’re officially awarded that star, however, you’re forced to face a character claiming to be more strong (or kind, or whatever) than you in a Duel Map to earn the star. This, predictably, gets excruciatingly monotonous, and you may tire of it after earning only a couple of stars.

The graphics are the same as the previous Mario Parties, with the exception of cel-shaded graphics for the board backgrounds. 3D characters and 2D backgrounds are the norm for this series, and that doesn’t change with the third installment. As can be expected, the graphics are also quite cartoony. Overall, they aren’t spectacularly good or bad...the best word to describe them is “passable.”

The music is also typical Mario music. It is upbeat, uplifting, and loops fairly often. It doesn’t detract from the game experience, but it’s nothing you’ll be downloading either. The sound effects are a bit better, with voice acting for each character. Maybe it’s just me though, but the voices seem a bit off from what you expect for the characters. You can also “taunt” other characters during the game, but there’s only one taunt per character and they’re all incredibly lame.

How often you’ll replay it depends largely on how you feel about the mini-games and the Duel Maps. If you’re like me and feel the mini-games are uninspired and the Duel Maps are boring, you’ll probably forget about this game and stick to the earlier Mario Parties for a good multiplayer game. If you do like the mini-games and the Duel Maps, however, you’ll probably enjoy the game for a long time, especially if you don’t have many friends and dueling is your best option.

I’d definitely recommend renting MP3 before buying it, as a purchase hinges largely on what you think of the mini-games. You’ll be able to play enough of them within the rental period to get a feel of whether it’s a good purchase or not.

Overall, I would recommend purchasing either MP1 or MP2 if you want some great N64 multiplayer action. They both overshadow MP3 in different ways. If you prefer cutthroat action, get MP1. If you hate the thought of rapidly rotating the analog stick, get MP2. In no circumstance, however, should you get MP3 over either of those two.

PROS: Some new mini-games are fun, adds a new mode.
CONS: Most of the mini-games aren’t fun, the new mode is boring, and story mode is no better.

Video: 6/10
Audio: 6/10
Control: 9/10
Gameplay: 3/10
Replay: Not much
Challenge: Depends on the skill of your opponents.
Buy/Rent: Rent
Overall: 4/10

Reviewer's Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Originally Posted: 08/07/01, Updated 01/07/02

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