Ready to Party with Mario?
Video game developer Hudson has proven to be master of the mini-game after seven popular Mario Party titles with inventive, challenging and entertaining mini-games that continue to make gamers play and laugh. The eighth title in the series, Mario Party 8, continues the tradition.
This year Mario takes the party to the Star Carnival, run by the wacky duo of MC Ballyhoo and his talking top hat, who will introduce themselves. Once you get beyond the menus, it's the same old Mario Party though, so the veterans you talk to can tell you all about the fun.
The Good (4 out of 5)
The developers did a good job implementing the Wii experience in the new mini-games. The mini-games requiring the Wii remote, like Koopa's Tycoon Town, are fun and enjoyable to play. Hudson makes good use of the Wii experience to help you walk a tightrope, swing a bat, row a boat, and even shake a can of pop.
The mini-games and control mechanisms are easy to understand and you will be able to pick them up quickly, which makes the game a lot of fun.
There are six beautiful, colorful and vivid boards to play on that add to the entertainment value of the experience, including old favorites like Donkey Kong and Super Mario Sunshine and new adventures, like Goomba's Booty Boardwalk and Koopa's Tycoon Town.
The Bad (3 out of 5)
The developers should look at adding more variety to the series. The board games can become tiresome when playing for too long.
The graphics sadly aren't any better than GameCube quality. The Wii is a console built to provide additional power and graphics compared to the GameCube – you think they might have taken better advantage of this fact.
Chance determines the results of the game and they should try to do something about giving the gamer more ability to control the final outcome of the game. Many gamers will stop devising strategies to help them win in games when it appears that chance is the key factor. After a while, they may become frustrated and move on.
Many of the mini-games are just remastered versions of earlier challenges, refitted with motion controls and others don't take advantage of the Wii's interactive capabilities, like the one against three jump-rope scenario.
There is a lot of needless, irritating and repetitive talk in the cutscenes. This is all unskippable, which is unforgivable for those of us who don't want to watch the cutscenes.
Graphics (2 out of 5)
Playing the game you may sometimes think you are playing on a GameCube because of the disappointing presentation that is lackluster and uninspiring. The developers did use a loud and outspoken color palette with this version that adds a bit of eye-candy to the game, but then all the games do this well.
Sounds (3 out of 5)
The marching band soundtrack is a little too loud and boisterous for me at times, it kind of stomps around in your ears irritating you.
The sound effects in this version are well coordinated and synchronized and they certainly add to the enjoyment level of many of the mini-games.
Gameplay (3 out of 5)
The main portion of the game plays like a board game, with four gamers using a virtual dice roll to determine their movement, while they play mini-games at the end of each round and collect as many coins and stars as they can during a set number of turns.
You use the Wii remote to swing at baseballs, row boats, and even walk tightropes, and the controls are easy to understand but difficult to master, making it a lot of fun.
Some of the mini-games are four player affairs, others are one-on-one matches, two-on-one challenges, and even three on one battles, but most are fun and entertaining.
For gamers who want to tune-up before heading out to play for real, there's even a handy practice mode to allow you to perfect your skills on specific mini-games before debuting them in public.
Verdict (3 out of 5)
Mario Party 8's mini-games aren't as interesting and challenging as a game like Rayman Raving Rabbits, but players who like a mini-game challenge will be interested in Mario Party 8. This new addition to the series is a fun and entertaining adventure once you get beyond the simplistic levels of the mini-games. It provides enough enjoyment to keep you dry until the rain clouds part and the sun appears.
Hudson could do a much better job providing fans with the mini-game bonanza they were hoping for, so hopefully they're paying attention to the reviews.
- Images for this article are from the promo of Mario Party 8, provided by Nintendo.