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Mario Party 2 – N64

Mario Party 2 – N64

smxbuae3sb6crwahako2Platform:  Nintendo 64

Developer:  Hudson Soft

Publisher:  Nintendo

Release Date (NA):  January 24th, 2000

Genre:  Party Game

Nerd Rating:  4 out of 10

Mario Party 2If someone had casually asked me what I thought of Mario Party 2 a couple of days ago, I’m sure I would’ve given some generic “it’s cool” answer.  Since I wanted to run through all 11 releases on here within a relatively short period of time, I decided I probably needed to brush up on each one individually, so I spent the last few days spending a lot of time with this follow-up to the classic.  I couldn’t be more disappointed as I really began to scrutinize this name.  Within 15 minutes I was annoyed, after another 30 I was pissed off, an hour later I was only able to shake my head in shock, and an hour after that I was exhausted.  It takes everything frustrating from Mario Party and adds more of it, and buries what was fun in unnecessary filler.  At times it was like waiting for commercials to end, really…long…commercials.  I’m talking the sort of commercials that transform an 84 minute film into a flailing disjointed shapeless parasite that fills a 2 and a half hour time slot.

Mario Party 2Alright, Mario Party 2 isn’t quite that bad, but it does have some serious problems.  First of all, the game boards all function exactly the same.  They have the same gimmicks, the same rules, and the same limitations only dressed up like the Wild West or space or a haunted house.  Not only does the sameness itself get tiring, but the little quirks of the course are irritating as well.  On every board there is inevitably some largish section riddled with spots that once landed on send the player back to the beginning.  This can happen over and over since these spaces are so abundant, be it a train or spacecraft chasing the character backwards or a cannonball propelling one back to the start.  If it was just one course with this particularly prominent hazard I could handle it, but it manifests itself in some form with little or no variation in every single course.

Mario Party 2For anyone that may not know, the minigames in the Mario Party franchise are typically played at the end of each turn after each of the 4 players have made their move on the board and dealt with any obstacles or advancements.  This holds true for Mario Party 2 also, but gameplay is littered with countless other minigames.  After the first 3 to 5 turns, one or more of the players is landing on spaces which initiate battle minigames, or spaces that activate a solitary minigame to obtain items, or spaces that force the player to spin Bowser’s roulette wheel, or a player choosing to challenge another player to a duel minigame, or landing in front of stores to buy items, or catching rides from sharks, or paying whomps to move, or complaining to the space patrol about speeders, or interacting with Boo, or getting a star.  So much time is wasted on these, and players’ turns take so long that it’s easy to start losing interest.  Suddenly that 20 move “lite game” has turned into 45 minutes…and you’re only on the 8th turn.  I appreciate the variety but it needs to be dialed back, A LOT.  When there’s no way to keep these sort of games under about an hour long, it’s going to turn off a lot of people.

Mario Party 2Relating to this issue is how difficult it can be to get stars, mostly because of bad luck falling on the human players and decent luck or at least the absence of bad luck being reserved for any computer controlled opponents.  When the game drags on for turn after turn and a star is just out of reach, it’s extremely frustrating.  And if it frustrates a 28 year old, imagine what it does to the 6 to 11 year olds that Mario Party 2 intends to attract?  It sucks the fun out of any friendly competition when you’re on your 14th turn and you’ve been shafted out of getting a star 3 times due to unlikely events restraining you or equally unlikely events advancing players far beyond you in either money or board space.  On top of this, most of the boards are structured with such winding paths and limited directionality that it may take 4 or 5 turns to even be considered somewhat close to purchasing the star.

Most of the time it’s not even about the money.  Plenty of money is available, even for people who aren’t proficient at the minigames.  In one game I played (against 3 computer opponents on easy, on a board with the lowest difficulty rating) I spent 16 turns chasing down my first damn store and had 241 coins in my wallet.  I like the elements of luck.  I like that it helps close the gap between the skilled and the unskilled.  But it simply dominates the game in the case of Mario Party 2.  Take Mario Party 2battle minigames for instance.  Triggered by another player with a random amount of coins thrown in (but always significant; it automatically draws between 10 and 30 coins from everyone, gives the majority to the winner, the amount of the buy-in plus a couple of coins to second place and any leftovers are distributed randomly), there is no reason to leave these battles up to chance when the winnings can make one player and crush another.  But here I am, guessing which one of 5 pumps won’t blow me up, with 30 coins on the line.

Mario Party 2The minigames in general have taken a turn for the worse.  Even on easy the computer has such a perfect sense of timing when doing simple tasks that most humans won’t have a chance.  And when the computer isn’t being the master of minigames, they’re busying bumbling around in complete idiocy, probably doing a good job at fucking up whatever any humans in the room are trying to do.  Take a look at the computer’s flawless ground-pounding on the totem pole, then watch how obstructive they are to their own damn teammate during the 2 vs. 2 minigame involving magnets and cars where money needs to be caught and placed in the goal.  There is no way that children are going to have any fun with these games.  One could probably get better with a modicum of practice but who the hell is going to practice minigames?  The whole point of a game like Mario Party 2 is to be able to pop it in and have anybody play after a few quick instructions about rules and controls.  To top it off, several minigames include sloppy game mechanics and only semi-responsive controls.  I don’t know how many times I’ve jumped and ended up literally sliding off the ledge or worse, a character’s head.

Mario Party 2The 1 vs 3 minigames are the worst.  Well, if you’re on the “3” side of versus they are, but 1 player typically has no problem winning within seconds.  These games are ashamedly unbalanced, requiring a great deal of skill to win against the 1 player and simple button presses to ensure none of the 3 players last the full 30 or 60 seconds.  The arrows are impossible to dodge when smashed up with other targets and without any cohesion among the 3, Mario Party 2there’s no way to hop out of the way of the turtle shell that the 1 player has control of the entire time, no amount of pushing A will ever free you from that damn crane claw.

It truly baffles me as to how this can be the sequel to something as fun and original as Mario Party.  I think the fact that Mario Party is such a great game is a lot of what makes Mario Party 2 seem so terrible.  Parts of it are fun, it still feels good to win, and it’s Mario Party 2still pretty easy to win once the bonus stars are awarded (if enabled).  But it’s just not very fun to play, and the parts that are fun to play aren’t worth watching the computer smash barrels 4 turns in a row or getting run down by the damn Bowser Parade 3 spaces away from the star…twice.  There is a place for all this disaster; it’s called using the Hard difficulty setting.  I tend to remember Mario Party 3 as the one with excessive bad luck and unwinnable minigames.  Perhaps I had the two games mixed up, or perhaps my mind chunked the shortcomings of both games into one experience, right now I can’t be sure.  But it won’t be long, not long at all if the words Mario Party 3 are green by the time you read this…

Reviewed by The Cubist

Mario Party Series
Main Series
Handheld

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

Email me anytime, about anything: thecubist@nerdbacon.com

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