‘Mario Party 10’: You don’t have to go home, but you shouldn’t stay here

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Mario Party 10
Developed by Nintendo SPD/Nd Cube
Published by Nintendo
Available on Wii U

It has been seventeen years since the party began. The party . . . the Mario Party has been waged for nearly two decades and in its wake lie countless friendships lost, maddening encounters with Bowser, millions of stars stolen and lest we forget, CHANCE TIME!

Nintendo proudly returns the cursed party game back to its fans with Mario Party 10. Don’t be fooled by the big 10 in the name, however. If you count Mario Party Advance, DS and Island Tour then it’s actually the 13th installment in the series. Unlucky number 13.

Allow me to preface this review by saying that I’m not bashing the series in any way. Unlike most big name reviewers (*cough* Game Informer *cough*) I actually really like most of the installments of the Mario Party series. They offered a true four-player competitive experience chock-full of clever mini games and potential catastrophic random happenings that brought everyone together just to rip them apart. The infamous Nintendo series has always been the perfect blend of strategy and luck.

This time around Mario Party 10 takes the series to some grim places but also introduces new elements that will no doubt become staples in the franchise for years to come.

Ever since Mario Party 9, the series has abandoned the old format of all four players moving and exploring the board map on their own, seeking out their own paths in order to obtain the power stars needed to win the game. The new format is less of a board game and more of a board race where the players roll dice to move through the very linear maps trying to collect the most mini-stars before the end. But it’s not really a race because each player moves all together in one vehicle along a set path so it seems to be more of a linear simplistic mess that ultimately relies on nothing but the roll of the die.

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Mario Party Island Tour for the Nintendo 3DS added a bit more focus to this variant of the board maps by losing the vehicle aspect and allowing each player to actually race to the finish. This allowed for a much for competitive and frantic atmosphere as each player tries their hardest to conquer each area of the map, each mini game, and to make it to the end goal first.

Island Tour wasn’t perfect but it definitely built upon the direction Mario Party 9 sent the series for the better. With Mario Party 10, everything seems like a step in the wrong direction from Island Tour. First of all, Mario Party 10 offers 11 less mini games than Mario Party 9 and 14 mini games less than Island Tour. This is a shame because the intuitive yet varied mini games are actually one of this game’s strong points.

The frequency in which you’ll play these mini games varies greatly however, with each play through. Mini games can only be played when a player lands on a mini game space. In the past, a mini game was guaranteed after every player rolled the die and took their turn. Depending on the play through, sometimes you’ll be playing mini games every other turn, and other times you’ll be lucky to play a few the whole game. Apparently even the possibility of having fun is up to pure chance.

There are 5 main boards to choose from, each with their own gimmick.  For example, Airship Central will have you navigate through rotating airships which hold either positive or negative spaces that could make you gain or lose mini stars or dice blocks respectively.

Each board map contains a mini boss and a final boss that must be defeated through a mini game like scenario. While each player does their best to chip away at the bosses’ hit points, it’s actually a competitive effort as the player who deals the most damage and takes the last hit will be rewarded with the most mini stars. These are some of the most creative types of play the series has to offer.  Navigating a maze to shoot the biggest canon at Mega Monty Mole or playing a memory game to navigate and attack King Boo without falling leaves the players in the same chaotic frenzy for which the series is known.

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Overall, these board maps are bland and don’t allow any real thought or effort on the part of the player. If there is an obstacle in the way, such as a Bowser space, the only thing you can do is hope you roll a low number so the other person endures the pain. You can choose a dice block that offers certain space moves but it’s still greatly out of your hands especially when receiving certain dice blocks is just as random as the roll itself.

It certainly feels like a dumbed down version of the older games that offered a plethora of items with different functions, many more different map scenarios, different pathways, and called for more strategy from each player. It’s nothing but dice block after dice block after dice block–either you get the mini stars or you don’t.

If you yearn for the old days of strategic map layout, you’re in luck because Mario Party 10 does offer a bit of a blast from the past. With the power of the mighty amiibo physical DLC, you can play Amiibo Party. If you have the compatible amiibo figures you can unlock the character’s corresponding board map. Each board is a simple square board map that has each player fight for the power stars like the good old days. It’s not much of a throwback but it’s something, that is if you’re willing to dish out the extra cash for the amiibo.

The best new addition to the Mario Party series is Bowser Party. Finally, a five player party extravaganza that puts one of the players in the shoes of the koopa king himself to try to derail the shindig once and for all.  The four players work together to make it to the end goal before Bowser can lay waste to the group by rolling the dice to get as far away from Bowser as possible. But watch out, once it’s Bowser’s turn, he has two chances to roll his dice to make it as far as the players. Once Bowser reaches the group, it’s time for a Bowser mini game. These special mini games usually revolve around the gang running from one of Bowser’s many schemes to try and take each player out for good. Once a player has no life left, that player is out for the rest of the map (unless the party lands on a special revive space) leaving one less dice roll to outrun Bowser.

This is a great new mode that settles the problem of “What are we going to do with our fifth friend?” and gives him or her the power and control that you will soon regret. The only complaint is the lack of Bowser mini games. While each mini game is quality, there are only 10 and after a while they soon run their course and become stale. Hopefully, future installments of Mario Party build upon this mode by adding many more mini games and dedicated board maps.

Mario Party 10 takes away any shred of strategy introduced in the games prior to Mario Party 9 as well as tears out any of it built by Island Tour upon the new format. Other than a few extra mini games, challenges and unlockables, there’s not much depth in any of the board maps with the only enjoyable mode being the Bowser Party. Even if you use amiibo to unlock the new boards, it ends up being an empty nostalgia trip that will leave you yearning for the games of the past. It’d be best to flake out on this party and hope next time brings a more quality experience.




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