When I think of my experience playing Mario Party over the last decade or so it seems to go in phases. When I was young, my friends and I would get together and play Mario Party until his mom finally left, at which point we would play his brothers copy of Clay Fighters. In my teen years we played Mario Party because we were bored of playing everything else and there were only so many non-racing games that accommodated three or more people. Then in college it was repurposed as a drinking game. Something that always became more frustrating than fun because of the one guy who rolled more six’s the drunker he became, like some alcoholic super hero. Despite its simple nature though, Mario Party has always been a fun game. A game for all levels, little kids or drunken adults, preferably not together though.
So what is the problem with Mario Party 10? Well as a sensible person should figure out, after well over a decade the party has become rather stale. The first Mario Party came out in 1998 and besides some tweaks here and there the core part of the game is still identical. What good does it do to continue buying a game that is nearly identical to all of its predecessors? It is the same problem that Assassins Creed and Call of Duty have found themselves in, although it helps that Mario Party doesn’t put out a new installment once or twice a year.
Yes it brings in new characters but it kind of kills it for me when they remove the characters I did like. For instance I enjoyed playing the versions where Boo was a choice, because much like Boo I also enjoy following people around creepy houses but not so much being looked at directly. There are also new mini games and challenges. While not exactly challenging they are still fun to play and there are enough of them where it will take some time to become bored of them all. After so many versions though some of the mini games feel nearly identical, which takes away from gameplay a bit. To continue my previous example, when Assassins Creed started to get stale they introduced intense ship battles and buggier then hell graphics. When Call of Duty started getting stale they introduced a semi-playable dog character and another line up of interchangeable burly white dudes. Were some of these changes advisable? Probably not but we’ll keep shelling out money to them anyways it seems.
So what is new in Mario Party 10? Well there is a play mode strictly for Amiibo’s now. I can only assume for people who have become bored with the regular game mode and want to play on smaller boards with even more immobile characters. Then of course after every single turn you have to resave game data to the amiibo used, because saving everything at once is a delusional fantasy apparently. You can earn small in game rewards for playing, most of which only apply to amiibo mode. It raises the question though, if someone doesn’t want to play in the static charm of regular Mario Party, why would they play on a board that is only slightly more interactive than an actual board game? Save some hundreds of dollars and buy an actual board game instead. While I’m on the subject, what is up with gamers and little plastic figures today?
It started with Activision and Skylanders years ago, because apparently they didn’t make enough money with their usual lowest bidder price slashing development style. Then Disney decided they weren’t making enough money, even though they own a major share of the entertainment world. So Disney developed the Toy Box, which I personally thought would destroy Skylanders just because Disney has such a rich supply of well-known characters to exploit. Now we have Nintendo and the amiibo, a rich supply of well-known video game characters to exploit. It seems to me though that the amiibo has even less functionality than the other two. Yes, in Smash you can add your amiibo and level it up but you can already play as that character yourself. You can’t even bring your amiibo online which seems like a huge waste to me. Of course some amiibo’s can be used on a variety of other games but to what extent? Most of the time amiibo’s just provide you with a new costume, not something I would spend 13 dollars on. Apparently Nintendo has foreseen this gripe and will be adding new classic game portions to each amiibo though so what the hell do I know.
Now that my high horse has collapsed beneath me and died of exhaustion what else is new in Mario Party 10? The other new feature and highlight of the game for me was the Bowser mode. Much like it sounds, you play as Bowser and simply mess everyone’s shit up. There is just something really relaxing about being the bad guy and tasked with nothing more than to ruin everyone else’s day. At first it was more frustrating than anything because the other players seemed to gain stars like Birdo turning tricks on the seedy side of town. Then we reached the half-way point and the game said ‘enough of that shit now’ and added an entire row of Bowser spots. I felt like a kid in a candy store, except the store was a Bowser game and the candy was being able to eviscerate my enemies. Sorry, maybe that last part was just in my head, Nintendo being unable to show anything except the cartooniest style violence. You can even receive help from your son Bowser Jr., teaching kids that even the worst fathers can still be present for their kids. Especially if it involves knocking out a fat Italian guy with a hammer, the best kind of family bonding.
Bowser mode utilizes the WiiU pad as well, kicking that immersion level up a notch. It really does add even more to the gameplay. It makes the experience of the Bowser games far more intriguing and makes it feel more like a ‘you versus everyone’ scenario. A lot of the games either require you to tap this or press that but a few become a bit more interactive. Such as one Bowser game where you must use the Wii pad to roll a set of flames around and into the other players. It’s not all great though, one game I found rather annoying was where you had to blow on the Wii pad to shoot fire and knock out your enemies. You try to shoot as many flames as possible and start to sound like the worlds fattest man going up a flight of stairs.
What are the problems with Bowser mode? Mainly, there just is not enough of it. Some of the maps in regular mode would not be very Bowser friendly, for obvious reasons but that only leaves like three maps left to play on. There are also very few Bowser games to choose from and a group can easily go through most, if not all of them in a single round. As I stated earlier, there are enough mini games where it could take some time for them to get repetitive but that doesn’t stretch to Bowser games. Bowser only gets a handful of games, a few of which I argue provide an unfair advantage to either Bowser or the other players. Such as a slot machine style game in which Bowser shoots Bullet Bills at a random player. This seems very slanted in Bowser’s favor though since there is little room to run away and just eats up stars.
What else is new in Mario Party 10? Not much, there are some more collectables and what not but nothing really new or very interesting. Basically, this is the same party that has been going on for over a decade. Nintendo wedged in a smaller party to show off its new money hole the amiibo. This just feels like a way for people to show off what amiibo’s they have, a sad and futile experience at best. There is also the new Bowser mode but I don’t think that alone should justify buying a game. What Mario Party has been missing for years is online play. Being the nerdy single male I am it is not easy to get a full group of people together to play, the few friends I have shunning video games as if I’m the crazy one. Playing the NPC also becomes rather predictable after a while. God forbid I have local children fill in but then the police would probably have to come back and ask some really awkward questions, especially after the street pass incident. If you enjoyed the previous Mario Party’s then you’ll probably enjoy 10, just more of the same with a WiiU style overhaul.