Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mario Party 9 Review

        Mario Party 9 Review

  •         Published by: Nintendo
  •         Developed by: NDCube
  •         Genre:Party
  •         Number of Players: 1-4
  •         Release Date US: March 11, 2012
  •         System: Nintendo Wii

The Party Veteran is back, but does he still has what it takes to be the party master?

    Mario has been away from the party scene for almost 5 years. In that time Nintendo made the party host the Wii brand. If you wanted a mini game collection created by Nintendo you were stuck playing something with “Wii” in the title. With a 5 year break has Mario been able to come up with some new party favors, or is he still stuck in his old ways?
     There was a time when Mario Party was similar to EA Sport’s Madden series in terms of release dates. A new year always would mean a new Mario Party. This trend carried on for 8 main installments, 2 portable games, and 1 card game. Quantity doesn’t always mean quality, and this showed greatly with the Mario Party Series. The longer the series went on, the more the innovation went down. Little tweaks to the formula was not enough to keep fans interested forever. By the time Mario Party reached its ninth instalment on the Wii in 2007, people were ready to move on to the next big thing the Wii had to offer. Fast forward 5 years to the present and Nintendo is ready to bring back it’s lost party series with a brand new coat of paint.
   Wario…you have always been stuck in your old ways.
     For anyone not familiar with the Party format. Up to 4 players move around a virtual board by hitting a block dice. While traveling around the board players collect stars in varies of different ways that including fun mini games and landing on special spaces. This is all done to become the superstar of Mushroom Kingdom. For the first time since the start of the franchise, this formula of gameplay has been changed up drastically. You still move around a large game board, collecting stars, and playing in mini games, but this time everyone is moving in one vehicle along a linear path. Also instead of collecting those large golden stars and coins, the player is now trying to collect a large amount of mini stars. Mario Party 9 also changes up many of the spaces, as well as the mini games being activated by spaces and events, instead of happening once every one has their turn. Each board now features two boss battles with Bowser’s minions. These battles are basically larger mini games where everyone must work together to take down the foe, while still competing against each other.
 The boss battles are a great addition to the experience.
     What I just described is the core of Mario Party, also known as Party Mode. What if though, you want to just play some of those entertaining mini games without the board game aspect? Well just like the Mario Parties of the past, a separate Mini Game Mode is available to play. The player can freely chose which games they want to play, or can do a few competition modes that require you to win a set number of mini games to win the whole game. A single player option is also available to play, but this is nothing more than going through the board games with CPU’s while following a story of Bowser up to no good. As any veteran Mario Party player should know these games are meant to be played with a room full of friends. To round out the package The game offers a handful of unlockables including new stages, and new characters. All 7 game boards are diverse enough to keep things fresh. You will be traveling from Toad Road which is very basic and a great place to start, to Boo’s Horror Castle which has multiple boos following you around the board to try to steal your mini stars. The roster is a well rounded bunch, but like previous Mario Parties the characters all have the same traits. Mario Party 9 also features “larger” mini games ranging from goomba bowling to a game of soccer. Some mini games also give 1 player the option to view the mini game from their point of view. I thought this was a very cool idea, but I think it would have did more justice if the view was from 1st person instead of the chosen right behind 3rd person view. Most of the time this mode just feels way to crowded instead of interesting.
     All you will need to bring to this party is your wiimote. The game does not take advantage of the nunchuck or have support for the classic or Gamecube controller. This reason makes Mario Party 9 very accessible and easy to pick up and play for anyone. Players will switch back in forth between the standard pointer positions to the horizontal “NES” style. The motion control mini games are by no means perfect though. Many times I felt like the controllers were unresponsive to what I wanted to do. The sideways traditional style mini games work fabulously though.
Goomba bowling….its fun, but deferentially wont replace Wii Bowling for anyone.
    Presentation value has been raised drastically from previous Mario Party games. Graphically I always felt that the Mario Party games felt a little off from the standard Nintendo mark. The whole game has that Mario charm that a player would expect from a core Mario game. The environments look great and feature familiar characters and locations from the Mario series.Anything from the Delphino people to the Galaxy feel of the opening really looks nice. All the characters also feature great animations that are entertaining to watch. The sound on the other hand is nothing to write home about. It is not bad, but doesn't really do anything special. A majority of the music is repetitive and all the character howls and grunts are what you expect them to be. Also to mention our favorite, Waluigi has made his return since his strange absence in Mario Kart 7.
     Like always luck is a crucial part to the party series. I believe this is one of the factors really holding Mario Party 9 back from truly shining. The fact that you could be on a winning streak in the mini games, and end up getting flipped to last place by the luck of the draw just does not seem fair. I know luck is normally needed in some form for any type of board game, but the amount of drastic changes that luck make is just too much.
     Mario Party 9 is a great addition to this long running series of games. Though the game suffers from many flaws, mostly from its old tech and reliant on luck. It still shines as a great game to play with a group of buddies on a Friday night. The new changes to the core formula is a step in the right direction, and it makes me excited to see where the party series could go with these new changes. Here is to hoping that Nintendo continues to approve on this update to the formula and not go back into their rut of milking the series for all its worth.
See you in Mario Party 10!

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