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Mario Party – Nintendo 64

Mario Party – Nintendo 64

marioparty box artPlatform: Nintendo 64

Developer: Hudson Soft

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date: February 8, 1999

Genre: Party Games

Nerd Rating:  8.5/10

Reviewed By: Steroid Gamer

Sometimes it’s crazy to look back in the past and compare it with the present.  Something that starts out so small can grow and flourish into a huge franchise that’s been around for almost twenty years!  Mario Party was first released on the Nintendo 64 in the winter of 1999. Despite how much fun the game was I don’t think anybody, Nintendo included, had any idea on the success this new franchise would have.  Mario Party has evolved a ton over the years and has become one of Nintendo’s stable franchises, but it didn’t just grow overnight.  It all began with the first game in the franchise, some thousands of hand blisters ago.

Skateboard...or DIE!!

Skateboard…or DIE!!

Mario Party is a pretty simple game that can provide hours of fun for up to four players at a time. The basic premise behind the game has players travel around different “party boards” and try to collect power stars.  Whoever has the most power stars at the end of the game is declared the winner.  Mario Party’s main mode is “Adventure Mode” and here players would play on up to six different boards, with two being unlockable totaling up to eight.  Mario Party plays a lot like most table-board games.  Each space triggers a different event.  Blue spaces give players coins, red spaces take them away, chance spaces trigger a random event, and the space you land on is dependent upon the roll of a dice.  After each character took a turn rolling the dice players would compete in a mini-game.

Mini-games are what made Mario Party fun and is really what helped launch the franchise into so much success.   These mini-games ranged from matches of 4 players against each other, 2 vs. 2, 1 vs. 3, or even some single player only mini-games.  The games ranged from fishing for coins (Mario Party’s currency), running to colored mushrooms, jumping on falling platforms, or skateboarding away from a collapsing bridge and many more.  The mini-games in Mario Party were extremely varied, and quite frankly I can’t think of another N64 game that showed as much varied gameplay as Mario Party did (excluding the two sequels of course).  Mini-games are always a blast to play and keep players on the edge of their seat with anticipation on the next game to come up.

Mario's Rainbow Castle. One of the "harder" maps.

Mario’s Rainbow Castle. One of the “harder” maps.

The board maps themselves are awesome as well and featured some of the best in the series.  Each map belonged to a specific character, i.e. Yoshi’s Tropical Island or D.K.’s Jungle Adventure, and they are all equally different in gameplay as much as they are visually.  The maps in Mario Party required precise thought and decision making.   In frequent cases you might find yourself at a cross roads.  Do you pay ten coins to get past the closed gate, or do you save your coins and go in the opposite direction?  Where is the Star located and which path is the quickest route?  How can you get there before your opponents?  Like any good table-based board game, strategy is a huge component and luckily Mario Party’s boards encouraged plenty of planning.

Sadly, more often than not that “strategic” planning could all be thwarted by a shear chance of crappy luck.  Perhaps you were one space away from the power star only to have another player, whose turn was before yours, land on a space that switched the power star’s location with the location of Bowser.  Now all that hard work you spent traipsing across the map to the star has been wasted, and instead get a first class ticket to misery, courtesy of Bowser.  Bowser is full of all sorts of nasty tricks.  He can take your coins, take your stars, or even take all players coins away.  It was more than a good idea to avoid Bowser, but most of the Mario Party maps had one too many ways to screw you over.  Sure, all player are susceptible to the “screwer-y” equally, but that doesn’t lessen the blow.

You can always count on your buddy Bowser to screw you over!

You can always count on your buddy Bowser to screw you over!

If you find yourself wanting to play solo or don’t have any friends to play with, which I hope isn’t that case because Mario Party shines as a multiplayer game more than anything, you could always head over to Mini-Game Island and get your fix of ALL the game’s mini-games.  On Mini-Game Island one player would travel along a single player board with each space being occupied by a different specific mini-game.   In order to advance to the next space you have to beat the mini-game that your current space is occupying.  Mini-Game Island is a great tool at teaching players all of the game’s 56 different mini-games and the more you played the better you got.  The only bad part is it’s primarily a single player mode only, so this wasn’t ideal if you had more than one person available to play.

Despite the game having 56 different mini games and several different game boards the basic principle was always the same.  Hop into a board map and try to collect as many power stars as possible and that was it.  56 mini-games might seem like a lot, and it is, but the games were always randomized. So one time you might play “Mushroom Mix-up” ten different times, yet never play “Handcar Havoc”.  The gameplay was very addicting and fun to play against other friends, but you could make a case for how the game can get stale after awhile.

The theme songs to some of the boards are catchy as hell!

The theme songs to some of the boards are catchy as hell!

If you wanted to shake things up there was a store that let you buy optional items to use in your game.  Things like dice blocks that would give you coins, take coins away, or dice blocks that would warp your position with another player.  Once again the randomness provided chaos.  Chaos that can be fun if you are on the receiving end of something beneficial, or chaos that was total crap if you were on the losing side.

Mario Party was, and still is an extremely fun game.  Playing the game with your friends for an evening can provide countless hours of fun and laughs.  However, playing the game solo and getting beat, or screwed over by the game’s randomness, isn’t really fun when you’re playing against the CPU.  The mini-games were varied and fun, and the boards were complex, requiring planning and thought, yet were simple enough that they didn’t require too much over-analyzing.  Aside from the blister inducing “rotating the controller stick” mini-games Mario Party is an absolute blast.   It’s a great entry in what would become the first of many in this long running franchise.  Aside from the random string of bad luck the game could bring, it’s a great adventure.  The only bad part is Mario Party is much better with friends than it is solo.  So, if you’ve got some friends and a few extra N64 controllers then Mario Party is sure to fill your evening with long lasting memories.  Memories at yours or your friends’ expense.

battle canyon

If you wanted you could simulate a game with all CPU controlled players. But where’s the fun in that?

Written by Sean Collins

Sean Collins

Sean Collins (aka Steroid Gamer) started playing video games when he was 8 years old. His first console was a Nintendo 64 and his first game was Mario Kart 64. He fell in love immediately and has been playing games ever since.

My current systems include; N64, Gameboy Color, Gamecube, Wii, 3DS, PS3, Vita, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox 360.

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One Comment

  1. Ugh the blisters! But it sure as hell never stopped us from playing! It’s funny you mention the blisters bc I literally just wrote a hardware review on the N64 controller and mentioned this game and the blisters.


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