- JP release: 18th December 1998
- NA release: 8th February 1999
- PAL release: 9th March 1999
- Developer: Hudson
- Publisher: Nintendo
- N64 Magazine Score: 85%
The start of one of Mario’s most successful – and most plentiful in terms of games – spin-offs. Mario Party is a board game combined with a large amount of minigames. The first one is the simplest, but sometimes simple can be best.
The objective is to make your way around the board to find Toad, and then pay 20 coins for a star. Blue spaces give you coins, red ones take away coins and others have varying effects. Everything comes down to the roll of the dice, although there are junctions where you can choose which way to go.
The boards in Mario Party have a few ways which change how you get around the board, but really its all to just randomise everything so that anyone can win.
While the board is how you win, the main enjoyment is the minigames. The kind of space you land on determines your team, which can result in 4v4, 2v2 or 3v1 minigames. The enjoyment of them can vary a lot, but usually the ones where everyone is competing tend to be the best – such as everyone balancing on balls in a small island, everyone having to rush to a mushroom of the right colour, shaping Bowser’s head (based on the Super Mario 64 start screen) and following a shape to cut out an object.
One thing I found quite curious (as I don’t remember it from owning the game) were that some of the minigames are completely co-operative, so you’re all working to get 10 coins. I suppose if someone is near the star and has 10-19 coins, you can attempt to sabotage them, but they ultimately feel fairly pointless.
The 2v2 and 3v1 games do add to the mix really well, and there are solo minigames that can be played from one spot on the board, although they really slow the game down.
One of the biggest issues with Mario Party is how many of the minigames rely on spinning the analogue stick as fast as possible. Not only does this wear out the controllers, but the competition encourages people to try techniques to spin faster – I was one of those dumb kids that blistered my palm due to Mario Party.
The minigame island is a nice option for playing the minigames, although as some can be very luck-based, it can be frustrating losing lives due to doing nothing wrong.
Mario Party is a terrible board game that manages to be fun due to its silliness and mainly the minigames. With the amount of games in the franchise, it’s a shame they never tried to get away from the roll and move mechanic.
Mario Party’s a great leap forwards for the genre, and massively fun, but for all the variety and spankiness it’s still not quite “there.” Moving still relies on random numbers (without the tactility of dice, you never appear in control, and a poo throw feels annoyingly cheap) and, crucially, you can’t skip irritating bits in the way you’d agree to ignore a rubbish game rule in real life. Also, you can’t cheat. Drat.Jonathan Nash, N64 Magazine #27
Remake or Remaster?
A perfect Mario Party collection would include all the boards, have different rule sets and let you mix and match minigames.
Official Ways to get the game
There is no way to buy a new copy of Mario Party, the only official way to play is to rent it via the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pak.
2022: Nintendo Switch Online (subscription only)
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