I have fond memories of Mario Party; me and my family would play it loads as a child. I remember the painful blisters we would all get after stupid mini games forced us to out-do each other on the N64, and I also remember finding that an electric toothbrush was the best way to press A as fast as possible on the controllers. So with Nintendo doing a Nintendo Classics line on the 3DS, I thought, what better way to spend the last of the year then renewing this love for the game with my partner? Well, my presumptions were far from true, which was annoying considering I had mistakenly purchased two copies in the hopes we could play together.
So first things first, why was I mistaken? Well Mario Party’s of yesteryear was a board game affair. Players would take turns rolling a dice, landing on special places, and playing mini-games to help them progress around the board. Whoever had the most stars at the end of the game won, with everything in the game helping you progress towards getting as many stars as possible. It was fun and addictive, down right competitive even.
Not so anymore with Mario Party Island tour. Whilst the “boards” still exist, they’re a one way street, with no repeating or challenge involved in collecting the most of something. This is a purely racing affair, with the player reaching the finish line first taking all, leaving everybody else in last place. whilst this may be to some peoples taste, it left a bad taste in my mouth when I was unlucky with my dice roles and ended up finishing a game at space 20 when everyone else was at space 50. It didn’t matter how well I played the mini-games (I won all of them), I still lost.
I’m not delusional; previous Mario Party games also had a lick of luck involved in winning a game, but at least there was skill involved too. You could nick players coins, preventing them from buying the game winning stars, or even outrightly turns the tables on someones fortunes should you win a mini game. Not so with Mario Party Island Tour, which has taken the most frustrating parts of any Mario Party formula and put them all into this one product.
Why was I annoyed I purchased the game twice? Well 3DS games usually contain download play; a way for up to 4 people to play one game with one cartridge. These titles usually also have the added benefit that should the other players own the same game, more options will be made available. Not so for Mario Party Island Tour, where doing download play allows you to access the full game. I sound annoyed, mainly because I waster money, but this is actually a fantastic addition to the game, and one Nintendo should advertise more.
So what good is there about the game? Well for one, the mini-games are just as addictive and fun as they always were. There’s a huge variety on display here, with them all taking advantage of the 3DS’ unique feature set, such as it’s gyroscope, touch screen, or even the microphone. In the 5 hours I’ve put into the game, I’ve rarely come across the same mini-games twice in a row, a brilliant play on Nintendo’s part calling to the amount of content available.
Along with the traditional “board” games, Nintendo has actually filled the game out plenty. You can choose to play the mini-games by themselves should you wish to practice and improve yourself, or play against the CPU on a hot air balloon mode where you must win as many mini games as possible. There’s also time trial mode, and another mode titled “Bowsers Tower”, which is more like the games actual campaign/story mode, with bosses and mini-games you wouldn’t find in the main game.
So for £13, Mario Party: Island tour is actually a bargain for the amount of content it squeezes in, it’s just a shame that the main thing that got me interested in the games in the first place (the board game) is gone, with it’s replacement being a mere shadow to the brilliantness that came before it. By all means buy Mario Party: Island Tour since it’s now on offer; it’s great fun with friends, and is cheap; just be prepared to get very annoyed very fast when the games decides to give you shit for no reason.