Review by Pitaya
"A solid Mario Party debut for the Wii."
I'm a Mario Party fan. I've played the different Mario Party games since the original on the Nintendo 64. Heck, I even played Mario Party Advance for a decent amount of time. However, it's hard to not notice that there's still a great lack of true innovation as the series progresses. They've added many things since the series' origin, but of the things they have added, most of them have just served to require more luck to win a game. It does have its good additions, however.
As far as the gameplay goes, it's well done. Unfortunately, it is generally the same thing seen in previous installments. There's the traditional dice roll, and moving that many spaces. Of course, there's the mini-games, now using the Wii Remote features. That said, most of the mini-games are rather generic, but still add greatly to the gameplay, as well as the individuality of each different game played. It's still not enough to revolutionize the Mario Party concept, especially considering Mario Party 9 probably won't change the existing formula much itself. The concept continues to survive the test of time, however, and that's always a good thing.
Mario and friends take part in a carnival. It's not exactly the same thing as the previous installments, but it's still just a generic plot, if it could even be considered a plot to begin with. I guess Mario Party doesn't really need to have a plot, though, so it doesn't really matter all that much.
Most of the mini-games have good control schemes. Very few have controls that you just can't ever get a good grasp on. The ones that do have such a problem, however, have a pretty strong negative impact overall. It's hardly ever to the point where you just want to quit the particular mini-game, but it can get slightly annoying. Some of the mini-games that you aim with a cursor can be troublesome, too, since the sensor bar can't detect far aiming (the requirement of some games' speedy aiming can cause this problem). Other than that, the controls are smooth for the most part.
The graphics are nothing awe-inspiring, but the style continues the cartoony feel that makes the Mario series what it is. Mario Party is no exception, and it never should be. Animations are smooth, and hardly ever appear blocky in any way. The item effects are somewhat overdone (I was actually reminded of Final Fantasy games by them), but they add to the visual feel of this game nonetheless.
The song track is nice, and the individual songs fit in with their respective levels. One thing that gets me are the voice actors. Many of them are noticeably different, and don't catch the original characters' styles. It's not so big of an issue, but the changes can catch one's attention pretty easily.
Unless you play about a million different games, you'll never play the exact same way twice. Even then, you don't have really high chances. There are many different mini-games, and many things in general that could happen through the course of the game. Additionally, all of the boards offer something different from one another. It's definitely not one of those games where you'll never bother to play it again after a few plays.
The fact that this game is only good with other human players is a slight turnoff to me. It's not that I don't have other friends that play this game, but rather, I have a great liking for games that can be just as good as a one-player game as it is a multi-player game. Computer players tend to be dull alternatives, if not just for lack of true rivalries or competition. Obviously, it's wonderful as a multi-player game, as the series is known for. Another turnoff to me seen in this game is the fact that the course of the game can be changed in the course of one turn. Using the Bowser Candy, a player can get the effect of the Twice Mushroom (2 dice rolls) as well as steal two stars from foes that you pass by. It should be noted that this item is not available in all levels, though.
I've been a Mario Party fan for years, and this installment doesn't change that fact. They've made luck play such a strong factor in game outcome, but it's never such a bad idea to allow a novice player to possibly even out the odds against a veteran player. Something that could have made this game possibly the best Wii game currently out is online capabilities; let's hope that's available in Mario Party 9!
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 06/25/07
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