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Mario Party 9 – Wii

Mario Party 9 – Wii

Mario Party 9Platform:  Nintendo Wii

Developer:  Nd Cube

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date (NA):  March 11th, 2012

Genre:  Party Game

Rating:  8.5 out of 10




Mario Party 9Hudson Soft held the reigns for 8 long years across 3 generations of consoles and churned out 10 titles in the franchise, but after their absorption by Konami, the future of Mario Party is now in the hands of Nd Cube.  After the release of Mario Party DS nearly 4 1/2 years earlier, the series seemed stagnant.  One could argue that the series was beginning to suffer from overexposure, and I would agree that perhaps more quality would come from a franchise with fewer than 8 console releases in as many years.  Whatever the reasons, Mario Party 9, the 12th installment, comes strong out the gate with completely revamped gameplay.  While 8 may stand as the distillation of all that works in the previous titles, 9 takes the concept of a board game to a whole new level and leaves us with 2 great, albeit different Mario Party’s for the Wii.

Mario Party 9There are 2 monumental changes to this latest entry, the first concerning board movement.  Instead of each player making their way around the course independently, all players move around the board together inside of a vehicle.  Whoever’s turn it is is the one “driving” the vehicle and is considered the captain.  Any items found or one-player events triggered by the captain affect only the captain.  So in some ways, it isn’t totally different than previous games.  Even though all players are technically landing on the same space, the captain is who reaps the benefits or suffers the consequences, and when other players are captains they are landing on other different spaces.  Though the course diverges at times, it is up to whoever is captain upon reaching the crossroads to decide which direction will be taken.  There are some areas (such as those in the lava course) where the a vote is taken at the fork.

Mario Party 9What this all amounts to is that Mario Party 9 uses conceptually linear boards (one is technically a circle) that end when the end of the board is reached instead of after a set number of turns.  In the case of the circular board, the vehicle moves around it twice.  This is a huge deviation from past titles and marks a sharp shift in gameplay.  Much of the impact of being in the right place at the right time has been removed and board movement isn’t nearly as important.

Mario Party 9To fully understand the ramifications of all these changes, it’s necessary to reveal the second major alteration.  Coins, or any other type of currency, have been done away with completely.  That’s right, no coins.  And since we have no coins, we have no item shops.  We don’t actually have items either, but more on that later.  The concept of both stars and coins has been rolled into one, and the result is mini-stars.  Mini-stars are the only thing to worry about here.  They can be found along the course, won in mini-games, and they determine the winner of the game.

Mario Party 9Lots of events can be triggered around the board, some familiar and some not.  The ones that really matter are a sort of “boss battle” which are essentially mini-games themed with a particular Mario baddie.  In regular mini-games all 4 players are given some mini-stars based on performance.  Unlike previous games, players are ranked on their performance rather than the dichotomy of only winners and losers.  In the sub-boss and boss mini-games, a great sum of mini-stars is awarded.  There’s still plenty of luck to keep things interesting, but the above factors place a lot of significance on the winning of mini-games.  As an oversimplification, imagine every other Mario Party judged players solely by their amount of coins (and negate having to spend coins on stars).  This is the precise approach that Mario Party 9 has tried to encapsulate.  Sure, it dilutes the strategy a bit but it makes for a more fun, less frustrating, and much more well-paced game.

Mario Party 9

Several other small differences will be noticed.  Mini-games aren’t played after everyone’s turn, instead they must be triggered by moving around the board.  Items exist now only in the form of “dice blocks” (various incarnations of the regular die such as a 1-3 die, 4-6 die, etc.), and the die itself only contains 1 through 6 rather than 10.

Mario Party 9At first it may seem that the game boards may be less unique since gameplay is a matter of moving from point A to B, but Mario Party 9 has several tricks up its sleeve to keep things interesting.  Between Boos and lava to rob a player of half his or her coins and the mini-zstars scattered about that count as negative mini-stars, each board has several quirks.  The bonus DK Jungle board (which must be bought) is especially fun and a great way to squeeze a short game in.  Of course the specialty aspects that made Mario Party 7 and 8 so memorable are gone and there’s nothing in 9 that quite fills the void.  This is the only reason why I can’t quite award a full 9 out of 10 for this title.

Mario Party 9Overall the mini-games of Mario Party 9 are the most enjoyable of the entire series.  The majority of them are simple, fun, and make great use of the Wii Remote.  Traditional mini-games are still represented through button mashing, quickly hitting buttons in sequence, and those based on platform maneuvers such as jumping and running.  Those utilizing the Mario Party 9Wii Remote include pointing and aiming, shaking, tilting, and many ways of otherwise moving the remote.  Some of the strongest are the King Boo boss battle, the paintballing, and one that entails rolling a ball inside of a circle to score points by tilting the remote.

Based on the number of mini-stars collected by human players, points are awarded at the end of a game.  They can be used to buy a number of items, including constellations, new vehicles for each course, and the DK Jungle board.  Shy Guy and Magikoopa, as playable characters, can also be purchased

Mario Party 9

Mario Party 9 is truly a great game, and the perfect solution for those who have become jaded by the sub par Mario Party’s of the past.  With all new gameplay and arguably the best mini-games to date, there is very little to complain about it.  Hopefully this title will usher in a new era of Mario Party; I guess we’ll find out on November 22nd with the release of Mario Party: Island Tour for the 3DS.  Thank goodness we aren’t forced to wait another 4 1/2 years.  Although I’m more than excited about the upcoming 3DS release, what I’m really itching for is Mario Party on the Wii U!

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

Email me anytime, about anything:

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