Mario Party-e – e-Reader
Platform: Nintendo e-Reader
Release Date (NA): February 7th, 2003
Genre: Party Game, Card Game
Rating: 7 out of 10
Never heard of the e-Reader? Want to know more? Check out my review/description of Nintendo’s e-Reader.
Mario Party-e will probably be the most unique game I ever review. It’s difficult to compare this game to other Mario Party titles, so I’m not even going to try. I’m giving it a 7 purely based on originality and how much I enjoyed playing it. And why is this little known entry in the Mario Party franchise so unique? To start with, it’s only partially a video game. With Mario Party-e, Nintendo attempts to bring some realism to the act of moving around a game board. But instead of physically rolling a die and moving a game piece around a board, this aspect has been simulated by using cards and a play mat. When I first learned all of this I was unsure as to how well it would work, but it turns out that it’s a surprisingly well thought out game that does a more than adequate job of recreating the typical Mario Party experience.
I’m not going to go into all the specifics regarding rules of play; to do so would mean more or less typing out the entire instruction booklet verbatim. Basically each player has their hand (unseen by others), and an “in-play” area which all players can see. The object of the game is to get 3 specific cards on the in-play area and then play a special “superstar card” to win the game. Included are cards with the ability to steal items from other players, redistribute cards, counter an opponent’s attack, and initiate mini-games via the e-Reader. Just like other Mario Party’s, coins are an integral part of gameplay. Coin cards are collected and then “spent” in order to activate many of the aforementioned functions of other cards. At first glance the game seems almost too simple to be worth playing, but once the game is underway there is a great deal of both luck and strategy to consider.
At certain points during the card game, mini-games can be played between 2 players in the form of each player taking their own separate turn. The winner is determined by who completes the mini-game the fastest, with the highest score, or whoever manages to survive. The outcome dictates what, if any, cards will change ownership. This can include the gathering of coins, stealing necessary in-play cards, rifling through the draw or discard piles to locate necessary cards, and even exchanging cards from each player’s hand.
Two types of mini-games are present in Mario Party-e. One is nothing more than spinning a roulette wheel, used to similar effect as the equivalent spins in other Mario Party’s. The other mini-games are based heavily on reflex and speed, as well as an impeccable sense of timing. Most seem easy enough on the surface, but often times it can be difficult to press the required buttons fast enough and in a few cases it can be a chore just to survive until the end. Aside from the roulette-style mini-games, the luck factor is toned down considerably compared to other titles in the series. Since the e-Reader obviously can’t know if the card game is being played or not, any of the mini-games can be accessed at any time by scanning the appropriate card.
For those without an e-Reader, slightly altered rules exist, though I can’t imagine why anyone in 2013 would go to the trouble to buy Mario Party-e without owning or seeking an e-Reader. Regardless, the card game is solid enough to stand on its own. I urge anyone interested to track down 3 other equally nerdy Mario Party fans to give this game a proper play through; it’s surprising how many variables are at work and how quickly the balance of power can shift, just as it does in other games of the series. Even if this isn’t a proper video game, it’s still a highly unique integration of game playing methods, and most importantly, it all comes together to create a fun and engaging experience.
Reviewed by The Cubist
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