Once upon a time I completely believed that there was nothing better than a Mario Party game. I thought I could play the franchise forever, and I looked forward to each new addition to the series with great excitement. But then something happened, (I think it was probably around Mario Party 4), Gasp! the Mario Party formula started getting a little stale for me.
Once More…With Feeling
Ya’ know the Mario Party series has attempted to leave the living room before- with a game called “Mario Party Advance.” It wasn't exactly a wonderful experience; in fact it was a dud! Thankfully with “Mario Party DS”, Nintendo has finally given us a full party experience on a handheld. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
If you've played any of the Mario Party’s in the past, on the N64, GameCube or Wii, then you should have a good idea of how the game plays. The DS game doesn't tinker with this formula at all, so if you have never liked any of the Mario Party games before, it is doubtful that “Mario Party DS” will change your mind. It really is a love or hate thing - hitting up dice, taking turns moving around a board, setting hexes to trip other players up, spending coins to purchase those all-important stars.
In this game, Bowser is throwing a party with lots of food and he invites Mario and all his buddies over to join in on the fun as a way to apologize for "being such a jerk" all these years. Yeah, right! Mario and crew get a party invite from Bowser - and accept? I guess free eats can’t be beat.
It’s a trap of course! Mario and his friends find themselves shrunken down to shrinky-dink size by Bowser. Gullible fools!
You know, you'd think years of defeat would get to a guy, but Bowser just doesn't give up!
While it sounds just as silly as every plot in the Mario Party games, the game actually tries its best to make it feel like an actual adventure.
Anyway, now they need to complete a series of game boards in order to get stars and grow back to normal size to put the big creep in his place. Um, as you can probably tell, the story's not the thing here - the actual party gameplay is.
- Story Mode: A single player must defeat the CPUs and the bosses and clear the party boards in order.
- Mini-Game Mode: The player plays mini-games in which they have unlocked.
- Puzzle Mode: The player plays one of five Mario-themed puzzle games.
- Party Mode: The player can play on the boards which they have unlocked.
“Mario Party DS” has some of the best minigames around; (second to Warioware of course) they are simple, quirky, and fun. The sheer number of them by itself is very impressive. There are over 70 of them! From now on, if a DS party game has anything less than 70 mini-games, it's officially a rip-off to me!
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He likes to move it, move it
The minigames are broken down into themes: battle 1-on-1, free-for-alls, 2-on-2 teams, and 3-against-1 action.
Not all take advantage of the stylus/touch screen or microphone, yet that’s okay since those that do, are done well. It's good to see a game make use of the stylus when appropriate and stick to the buttons when it makes better sense.
There is also a huge assortment of minigames and let me tell ya’ these are quick tests of skill and quick reflex abilities - you won't just be slamming the A button to win half of these games; some of them are tricky; you'll actually need to read the instructions for some carefully.
Okay, I’ll be honest with you a few of the minigames are duds, but with 70 of ‘em; you won't run into them that often.
On top of all the minigames, we’re also given a Puzzle Mode featuring some great puzzle games to play. While they may not be all that original - most are straight up imitations of well-known puzzlers such as Puyo Pop – but they are all fun and are great time-wasters when you don't have any DS-owning friends around.
The boards in Mario Party DS are typical, nothing you haven’t seen before from earlier games.
Graphically and sound-wise, you shouldn't expect anything new from the usual Party atmosphere. The visuals are still colorful and fun and the audio is complete with voiceovers ("Whoo-hoo!"), and upbeat music and familiar sound effects.
There are only a few minor problems which bring “Mario Party DS” down. Because the game has always been so great as a multiplayer experience it was disappointing to find out that there is no online support at all, especially since most Nintendo titles feature Wi-Fi multiplayer these days.
It’s a real shame too because it really could have been something special.
But there is some good news, thanks to the magic of wireless DS single-card download play, you will only need only one cartridge to play against your friends and as we all know, the game is much better when played with friends. (It takes a little while to load up, but be patient the wait is worth it.)
Speaking of waiting, playing Mario Party games has always been a huge time commitment.
But the good news is, they’ve picked up pace of the game just a bit for the handheld version. This is definitely a good thing I was able to play a full 10 turn game in just under 30 minutes.
Now, what they didn’t change(though they should have) is that the game will often give the AI characters an advantage and allow the little buggers to catch up, which means in the end you'll often need a bit of luck to win a board. This has always been something that has irked the crap out of me within the Mario Party series! For the most part these few faults are forgivable because of the fantastic minigames.
In the end, it is still Mario Party and it does what it does. Again and again...and again. Get Mario Party DS Here