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Mario Party 4 – GameCube

Mario Party 4 – GameCube

mario party 4 box artPlatform:  GameCube

Developer:  Hudson Soft

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date:  October 21st, 2002

Genre:  Party Game

Rating:  6.5 out of 10

Finally we get a Mario Party title worthy of the original!  This fourth installment offers a true upgrade to the series rather than a mediocre continuation.  Minigames are stronger, better developed, and more engaging.  Basic gameplay remains the same and all but the most necessary of time wasters have vanished.  The amount of luck has also been greatly reduced, giving seasoned gamers an advantage.  The random roll of the die still plays a crucial role in determining a player’s immediate standing, but the long term effects balance themselves much more than any previous Mario Party.  And at long last the graphics have improved to a more than acceptable enough standard.

Mario Party 4Mario Party 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of the many advancements made in Mario Party 4, one of the greatest is its pacing.  No longer is the player forced to endure endless tangential gameplay.  The events that do occur while circumnavigating the game board are either appropriately brief or functionally significant.  There’s still battle minigames and hidden blocks, still Boo’s to talk to and Bowser to deal with, but the interactions are at much greater intervals than before.  With this new fluidity of gameplay, players can focus on the minigames as the main method of procuring in-game wealth instead of relying on the tedious and uneven “prizes” offered up randomly by the game board.  If one wants to play a longer game, the turns are adjustable in increments of 5 from 15 all the way to 50.  With such consistent timing, it’s an easy game to keep coming back to.

Mario Party 4The mini-games are the best the series has seen so far.  Most are quite simple and based on basic concepts such as throwing basketballs, swimming, shooting, parachuting, and other familiar ideas.  Gameplay is generally restricted to basic maneuvers (unlike several of the minigames in and 3), making good use of the numerous ways to jump and run.  Almost all mini-games rely on speed, attention, and precision, with a Mario Party 4 boatrespectable amount of luck thrown in to keep games interesting and offset (or even create) bad luck.  My small complaint in this realm is how nearly all minigames which involve the risk of losing coins (Bowser games and battle minigames) are based wholly or largely on luck and guessing.  If I’m denied 10 coins for not being able to read Bowser’s fruit preferences faster than movie credits on TBS, I can live with that once in a while.  But to lose 30 coins I already earned over it?  Not quite.  This title also contains one of the best mini-games of the series, a sort of Dr. Marioesque game utilizing the matching of falling squares.

Mario Party 4 matching

Mario Party 4 luigiThe well designed game boards in Mario Party 4 are at the core of its enhanced enjoyment.  Instead of slapping a desert or snow on top of what was essentially the same course over and over, each course has its own quirks distinguishing themselves from the others.  Directionality and controlled access to certain areas set the stages apart, in addition to some well placed opportunities to gather up stars.  Although stars (and by extension, coins) should be aggressively mario party 4 starcollected starting on the first turn, in some ways Mario Party 4 revolves around more long-term goals than immediate acquisition.  No longer are high die rolls and a little bit of pocket change all that is needed to gather stars.  Routes must be planned, money and/or items may be required beforehand for other accessibility purposes, and there is always the need for a contingency should another player arrive first or should one’s luck otherwise be altered.

It’s probable that instead of being lauded as “the first Mario Party for GameCube,” Mario Party 4 will quietly enter posterity as “some intermediate Mario Party” (read: one of those other ones), but its Mario Party 4importance shouldn’t be totally dismissed.  Yes, the subsequent titles have moved far beyond what was possible in 2002, yet Mario Party 4 is, at the very least, a humble reminder that not all fun games have to be numbingly complex.  I’ve restrained myself from giving this game a full 7 because nothing new or innovative has been created herein.  Instead, the opportunity was used to refine and distill what worked for the first 3 games and eliminate what didn’t, a step necessary immediately before a series of sub-par games can once again garner favor.  I believe these middle games, especially 4 and 5, are particularly good examples of the series as a whole.

Next up: Mario Party 4: The Sequel

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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4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Mario Party 8 – Wii

  2. Pingback: Mario Party 6 – GameCube

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  4. Pingback: Mario Party 3 – N64

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