Around six years ago, the first game in the Mario Party series was released, creating a whole new genre in the video game world, the party game. A game which not only let you play with a buddy but a whole group of people. Mario Party turned gaming, usually a solitary activity into a social event, a feat only sports games had been able to accomplish until then. Somehow, Hudson has managed, for the sixth time, to create dozens of new mini-games and squeeze it all into a game starring the usual Mario related characters, the result, Mario Party 6. The story, yes there’s actually a story, begins with the protectors of Mario Party world; the moon (Twila) and the sun (Brighton), who have had a great argument and have since stopped talking to each other. Of course, this bothers Mario who comes up with the great idea that the power of the stars will help bring the feuding celestial beings together and the only way to obtain these stars, you guessed it, playing games.
The game opens to a menu (map) where you’ll get to choose the mode of play. Both the solo mode, the single-player portion of the game, and the party mode, the multiplayer portion, involve moving around a board-game like map by hitting a dice block, competing in mini-games along the way. Every time you win a mini-game you will be rewarded with coins and eventually stars. There are six different boards available to choose from depending on the mode; they change slightly depending on whether your playing at night or during the day in the game, a new feature. My favorites are Castaway Bay an island-themed map and the Infernal Tower, a single player map where you climb a tower playing mini-game to get to the top.
Along the way, you’ll land on mini-game spaces of various categories (explained below), power-ups and obstacles. The solo mode and party mode make up the majority of the game but there are others. There’s a mode where you can buy stuff with the coins you’ve collected along the way, a mode which lets you play all the mini-games you’ve collected and a mic mode which offers a few games you can play with the included microphone, more on this later.
Now to the mini-games, the heart, and soul of the game. For those unfamiliar with the series, each Mario Party game consists off dozens of mini-games. The games are simple, competitive and have no connection to each other. They last anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes and offer all kinds of gameplay. There are over 80 mini-games packed into Mario Party.
For the the mini-games are great and offer diversity, fun, challenge. Since this is the sixth iteration of the game, not all the mini-games are original and we’ve played some of these games in various forms before but for the most part, they are still fresh. Some of my favorites include ‘Granite Getaway’, an Indiana Jones-inspired mini-game where you’re running away from a rolling boulder while jumping over obstacles and avoiding your opponents. ‘Snow Brawl’, has you teaming up with a bunch of monkeys, facing off against the Kooper kids in a snowball fight. Other honorable mentions: ‘T-Minus 5’, ‘Ball Dozer’ and ‘Daft Rafts’. Some of the games are not that great. The most annoying of which involve no skill and rely on pure luck. One such game is ‘Same Is Lame’. A mini-game in which you hit button on your controller and hope your opponent doesn’t hit the same button, yes that’s it. It’s especially frustrating if it’s a Bowser mini-game and you have mini-games and coins at stake.
The mini-games are broken down into different categories like 2vs2, 1vs3, 4 players. In some, you’ll be taking on two computer opponents with a partner (computer or friend), in other’s it’ll be you vs. 3 computer opponents and there are also games where it’s everyone for themselves. Land on some spaces and you’ll have to compete against the Kooper kids or even Bowser himself who will steal your coins or the mini-games you’ve collected if you lose.
Once opened you’ll be able to play the mini-games anytime in the mini-game mode. The coins enable you to purchase extras, most of which are rather boring and include character taunts, game credits, additional art. You’ll also get to purchase game difficulties which you’ll want to do as soon as possible. The game default is set to a normal difficulty which I’m sure most players will find a bit too easy.
Every once in a while you’ll land on a mini-game that requires a microphone. Mario Party 6 comes with a small microphone which connects to a controller port and is used in various mini-games. Some of the games are creative and a riot to play at first but this eventually wears off. Most of the mic mini-games are rather gimmicky and often the microphone is unresponsive to your command. There are a couple of fun games like the quiz game and you’ll friends will get a laugh as you yell at your character to perform various tasks and actions.
Now to the game’s presentation. Graphically the game is beginning to show its age, it’s just not much different from its previous incarnations. You’ll find Nintendo’s usual style of bright, primary-colored environments, characters and basic, often bland textures. The game isn’t pushing a lot of polygons and it’s apparent when you grab a closerr look at the character models. Luckily, this isn’t much of a problem and mini-games will keep you distracted from the graphics for the most part.
The weakest part of the game is without a doubt the audio, although, I guess it can be argued that since you’ll be playing the game with friends you will spend little time listening to the background music. The background music is the generic stuff we are all used to hearing and there isn’t one song that’s even in the least bit memorable. Another disappointmentise the character voices. There are no voice overs or sounds other than the recycled character samples we’re used to hearing in every Mario inspired game.
For a game that relies on fast response and perfectly timed button mashing, the control couldn’t be more important and luckily they are perfect. Most mini-games are played using the analog stick and the B,X, Y buttons. The beauty of the game is that you’ll get the hang of each mini-game in no time. The controls are given at the beginning of each mini-game and a practice round is also offered which is often unnecessary due to the simple nature of the games. New players will catch on right away.
Hudson and Nintendo have managed to release another solid Mario Party game. While the presentation, graphics, sound may not be up to par with current titles, this is one game that can get away with it. The game offers and incredible amount of mini-games, which may seem familiar to some but are still fun to play. Where the game really shines, and as the title suggests, is it’s multi-player mode. These games are meant to be played against and with others so if you have a few friends invite them over for some Mario Party 6 and you’ll have a grand old time.