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Mario Party 3 – N64

Mario Party 3 – N64

Mario Party 3Platform:  Nintendo 64

Developer:  Hudson Soft

Publisher:  Nintendo

Release Date (NA):  May 7th, 2001

Genre:  Party Game

Nerd Rating:  5 out of 10

Mario Party 3If you’ve read my reviews on the original game and its sequel, you know that the steep drop in enjoyability left me less than enthusiastic about revisiting Mario Party 3 for a closer look.  If you haven’t read them, I’d suggest doing so as I’m reviewing all 11 titles for comparison and contrast.  As it turns out, I like this game just a little bit more than Mario Party 2but for the most part I think it simply tones down the annoyances of the previous game without adding anything substantially unique or amounting to much more than an expansion pack.  In fact one of the major additions, Game Guy, proved so unpopular that it would never be seen again.  

Mario Party 3Gameplay is still exactly the same.  Stars appear at fixed locations across a few game boards and players navigate their characters around these boards collecting coins, items, and most significantly stars.  Nothing has changed about this process, not even the infamous time-wasters of Mario Party 2.  Banks, events causing characters to lose ground, solitary minigames for items, battle minigame spaces, and all the other minor but cumulatively asinine events still exist.  However it’s not quite as easy to stumble across the 1-player and battle minigame spaces and the small events such as purchasing items don’t take nearly as long to transpire.  Events causing setback regarding board progress are a little more reasonably distributed and overall there are a few less distractions on the board.  This definitely improves the pacing, but I still want to bang my head against a wall while having to watch 2 computer opponents duel for 4 coins while swinging on vines.

Mario Party 3Many of the minigames are just as unwinnable and frustrating as in Mario Party 2 due in large part to the computer players’ impeccable timing and reflexes that no human can match.  This is the same computer that will use a skeleton key when nowhere near a door (essentially throw it out) and will then buy a skeleton key at the item shop 4 spaces down.  Part of this is also attributed to shoddy and sometimes ambiguous controls, Mario Party 3much more of a problem in Mario Party 3 than its predecessor.  During the Cheep Cheep chase it is so easy to hit a bomb even when calculating the perfect the dive, one minigame requiring the player to jump up vertically on a series of blocks leaves gaps which are almost impossible to traverse, and the attack move in the bouncing ball game is exceedingly difficult to employ effectively.

Mario Party 3A speck of improvement appears at this point, through an option titled “easy minigames” when setting up a game.  Now I am not a video gaming savant, but never ever have I felt like I needed to restrict myself to a certain subset of minigames in any Mario Party title in which the option was offered…except this one.  Most of the time I even get the bonus start for earning the most coins in minigames…except in this one.  As ashamed as I am, it does seem that Nintendo is acknowledging their prior mistake.  With games set on “easy minigames” almost all of what is offered is easy to do, with no games needing precision controlling.  I had a much better time with these simpler memory and intellect based games mixed in with a few more traditional coordination-based ones.  I haven’t carried out any kind of statistical analysis, but I would guess my win/lose rate approximates that of other titles in the series that I frequent more than this one.

Mario Party 3Most people who’ve played this probably forget about “Game Guy,” hell I know I did.  The instant I encountered him however, I was reminded of the awful dose of chance that Mario Party 3 tries to inject into the game.  Upon meeting this deity of the toybox (where the games take place), he immediately relieves the character of all coins.  A minigame is then selected on a whim.  Should the player prevail, coins are multiplied, usually doubled but possibly increased 64-fold.  When the inevitable loss occurs,  our lovable character is left destitute in an unforgiving, star-gathering world.  Fuck Game Guy.

Mario Party 3The last thing I’ve deemed worth complaining about is the lack of progress made with the graphics.  After three releases I expect at least some noticeable change in quality, but this looks exactly like the first in the series.  I know that by 2001 the developers could have done something to round off those edges on Mario’s fist, add some softness to the simple geometric faces, and provide some extra detail when it comes to conveying texture.  Simple and cartoonish graphics don’t bother me, in fact I prefer them, and this isn’t the kind of problem that Mario Party 3affects gameplay, but look at Bowser and tell me you don’t cringe.  I suppose I had just expected that with Nintendo as the progenitor of so many gaming advancements they would’ve worked harder (or made Hudson Soft work harder, however that works) to ensure continuing visual superiority, particularly in popular Mario titles.

Mario Party 3

Mario Party 3There are a few new things to look for in Mario Party 3 such as the inclusion of Waluigi and Daisy, specialized duel courses for 2 players, and the addition of the now-standard 1-player Story Mode.  Story Mode attempts to generate some totally bizarre plot line to put this game in context with all sorts of stuff about the Millennium Star and Star Stamps, and while entertaining because of how fucking strange it is, it’s unnecessary.  There doesn’t need to be a vehicle for justifying a character’s completion of all the boards (that’s all Story Mode is), I think the franchise is popular enough at this point to let the game exist for its own sake.  At least these 1-player games approach brevity at only 15 turns.  Mario Party 3 also throws in some new items to make games more interesting and while at first I liked them, my final thoughts are that they continue to slow the game down.  There are so damn many that the frequency of attaining the same one multiple times are slim so they become clumsy to use and are often (not always) inefficient in their purpose.  Since there are so many an in-game explanation is provided, but the last thing this game needs is a ton of stuff to read mid-turn.

Mario Party 3Looking back on my experiences with all 3 games, I will give 3 an edge over 2but it still fails to capture the spirit of the original, nor does the series seem to have quite hit its stride.  However the presence of Baby Bowser / Kid Koopa / Bowser Jr. grows ever more ubiquitous, a fact that many Mario fans, myself included, will come to universally lament.  I do remember having a lot of fun with the Mario Party’s developed for the GameCube, so whenever it’s ready, here’s Mario Party 4.

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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  5. I think I remember reading that this game is exceptionally rare, probably considering it came out during the release of the GameCube. I NEVER played this game though. In fact, I actually haven’t played a Mario Party game since the 1st one! The memories of my palm blisters haunt me even today!

    • I see it used somewhat regularly, but it’s not terribly cheap. N64 is hitting a major surge of reinterest because it’s all those kids growing up and making money nowadays. I’ve finally moved on to the GameCube releases which are much more fun.

  6. Pingback: Mario Party 2 – N64

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