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Mario Party – N64

Mario Party – N64

Mario PartyPlatform:  Nintendo 64

Developer:  Hudson Soft

Publisher:  Nintendo

Release Date (NA):  February 8th, 1999

Genre:  Party Game

Nerd Rating:  7 out of 10

Mario PartyI wish I’d been lucky enough to own this back when I was 14 in 1999.  Here is where it all started, one of the longest enduring spin-offs in video game history.  For anyone unfamiliar with Mario Party or its sequels, this game is structured as a board game that Mario characters must move across.  At the end of each turn, a mini-game is played, usually for coins.  These coins can be spent directly on stars located at one more spaces on the game board or on other objects and actions to attain stars.  At the end of a set number of turns, the game ends, stars are tallied, and whoever has the most stars wins.  In the event of a tie, coins are used to determine the victor.

Mario PartyMario Party is so simple in its premise but done with such alacrity that it’s hard to imagine anyone not liking this game.  The mini-games are usually very simple, simple enough that a given number of players ought to generally have equal chances at winning.  Most of them are based on quick button presses or either having to do specific tasks very quickly.  Although it would be another few releases before these mini-games truly came into their own, credit is due to the game that started it all.  Many of the games in this first installment would go on to grow and evolve into new but similar games across the entire series.  In many respects Mario Party was one a few wildly successful games that helped to usher in the modern concept of 4-player games.  True there were multi-taps dating as far back as the NES, but 4-player games were quite rare and none achieved widespread success,

Mario PartyTo be fair, Mario Party requires at least 2 and ideally 4 people to fully unlock its potential.  Between a group of anyone of any ages willing to engage in a little light-hearted competition it’s bound to bring out the video game nerd in all of us.  There’s a reasonable portion of mini-games that are somewhat dependent on prior video gaming skill, enough to keep veterans ahead.  However, there is also a large degree of luck thrown into the mix, be it in other mini-games, where the player lands on the game board, or even where other players land on the game board and how they choose to play the game as well.  Chances are that if you’re the best gamer in the room, the other 3 people will do everything so that the best gamer in the room doesn’t win.  Far too many complaints are lodged about the luck factor of Mario Party and I say that this isn’t exactly intended as a prime vehicle for showing off skill.  It’s a social game as much as it is a video game, something I think a lot of hardcore gamers tend to ignore.

Some fun can be had in 1-player mode, for example, unlocking the 3 hidden mini-games requires the efforts of a lone player.  Of course there is zero social value in squaring off against computer opponents but they are pretty easy to defeat in mini-games.  Steadily, the 1-player aspect does improve a bit over the succeeding releases.

Mario PartyGraphics are fun and playful, though I can’t help but notice how much choppier the N64 tends to look than it used to.  Most of the mini-games make good use of the infamous “3-handed controller.”  Mini-games include everything from jumping to otherwise correctly timing other events, matching up pictures, pressing the right button at the right time, and the infamous circular rotation of the N64 controller’s joystick.  A lot of people choose to do this with their palms, but go Mario Partyahead and take a look at it.  Thin, huh?  Yeah, this is no Tekken cabinet at the arcade.  I’d suggest getting everyone in the room to agree to using their thumbs only or either buy you a new controller afterwards.  Back in ’99, these joysticks were breaking all over the place because of aforementioned use.  A lot of times it’s not even obvious what breaks; the joystick doesn’t simply snap in half, something right underneath breaks and renders it useless.

Mario PartyI won’t blame Nintendo too much for the joystick shortcoming.  The good thing is that they learned from their mistake and almost completely removed it from the following two Mario Party releases on the N64.  Some of the mini-games may seem dated if you’re used to newer installments, and some might even be so old they’re actually hard.  In the first three titles especially my win rate in mini-games is far lower than the other Mario Party’s.  Certainly a classic for the N64 and arguably Mario in general, Mario Party laid out the formula for a franchise that still maintains its relevance almost 15 years later.

Reviewed by The Cubist

Mario Party Series
Main Series

Written by The Cubist

The Cubist

Co-founder, Head Author, & Site Technician

Find out what these ratings mean and how I rate video games.

I collect as much video gaming paraphernalia as I can get my hands on, especially when it comes to hardware. With over 40 systems including oldies like the ColecoVision and Intellivision, obscurities like the CD-i and 3DO, and the latest and greatest including the Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, and PS Vita, I get easily overwhelmed. Most of the time you can find me firmly nestled sometime between 1985 and 1995 when it comes to my games of choice, but I’m also having a great time seeing what the 8th generation has to offer.

Currently in love with: Mortal Kombat

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  1. Jordan Johnson says:

    Nintendo actually got in legal trouble because of this game due to the blistering issue. They were forced to provide gloves to anyone who requested one.
    But oh I remember and love this game! The original friendship destroyer.

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  9. One thing I remember about this game when playing feverishly with my friends, was the damn mini games that required EXTREMELY fast spinning of the joystick (which is only accomplished by using the inside of your palm if you want to win… and WINNING is the only option). One game in particular was the row-boat level. We would all have the WORST blisters in our palms. Blistered palms aside, this game gave us kids HOURS upon HOURS of fun competitive times deep into the night at sleepovers. Truly a great game and uniquely the first great party game in my opinion.


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