Guess we’re late to the party on this review
Mario Party 4 was one of the first games I’ve ever played. I vaguely remember playing Mario Party 3 and Paper Mario before that, but some of my fondest early video game memories sparked from this gem of a game. Granted, I played it alone most of the time, but I never cared. I loved the idea of trying to become the “Superstar” and beating the CPUs. Likewise, every time a new Mario Party was released, my parents would buy it for me, and I was always happy to play each new installment. Then, On March 2nd 2012, Mario Party 9 was released, and needless to say, fans were not pleased with what they saw. Deviating from the other Mario Party installments, you are not separated running around a board trying to gather stars, rather you are all confined to a car on a linear path to the end. I personally didn’t hate this feature, but most reviewers bashed the game for how different and bland the gameplay was. I certainly see the complaints, but I never hated Mario Party 9. Call it a guilty pleasure, but I legitimately got enjoyment out of the game. I’ll still take the old style any day, but I didn’t see this as a giant problem that ruined the game. So at E3 2014 when Nintendo’s YouTube channel released a trailer for Mario Party 10, I was excited. Again, disappointed that the game didn’t feature the old style, but excited. But when I got the game with all the amiibo on launch day, the old style not being there wasn’t all I was disappointed with.
This is it? Really?
When you begin the game, you are thrown right into a menu select screen. No main menu, no file select. Just a menu for you to select the game modes in. I know this sounds like a nitpick, but this feels so bare bones to me. Despite that, you are given a choice of 3 main modes; amiibo Party, Mario Party, and Bowser Party, along with 3 other selections; amiibo Bonus, Toad’s Room, and Bonus Games. amiibo Bonus allows you to get tokens for your amiibo in amiibo Party (which i will get to), Toad’s Room allows you to spend in-game currency on new characters, cars, difficulty modes, among other things. Bonus Games are just side distractions for you, such as badminton. I personally didn’t find these to be very exciting, but they are there if you wish to try them out.
Mario Party, the main mode of the game, is honestly my least favorite part about it. It’s just like Mario Party 9 gameplay, you are all confined to a car trying to get to the end and picking up mini stars along the way. While I liked Mario Party 9’s gameplay, Mario Party 10 does not deliver on this aspect. All the boards feel exactly the same and play far worse than Mario Party 9. I can’t put my finger on it, but something Mario Party 9 delivered on Mario Party 10 does not. If there is one thing I will grant Mario Party with, it is the minigames. Each one managed to be considerably fun in my eyes, with a few exceptions. Unfortunately, you don’t necessarily play a minigame every turn. Rather, minigames happen when you pass a miniboss castle, land on a minigame space, or reach the end. This is all fine and good, but this results in you going through the blandness of the actual board, and it really hurts to say that because of all the great things Mario Party 9 managed to do with the mechanic. The only thing Mario Party 10 really innovates on from the car in Mario Party 9 is the implementation of Bowser. Once each number has been rolled at least once, Bowser will attack the person who rolled the last die (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 have all been rolled. Bowser will attack whoever rolls a 4). They well then lose half of their mini stars and Bowser will add Bowser Spaces to the board. This mechanic is cheap and, like many other things in Mario Party, can’t be prevented.
Bowser Party was the first thing we saw in Mario Party 10, and the first thing I played when i booted up the game. In it, you play as either Bowser hunting down the 4 other players, or you play as the 4 other players being chased by Bowser. The team of 4 have a few hearts as Bowser tries to attack you in Bowser Minigames. Lose all of your hearts and it’s over for you unless your team can get you the hearts you need. There’s just one problem: It’s rigged in Bowser’s favor. Either my friends and I just aren’t good playing as the characters, or Bowser will always win by a landslide with ease. On the character’s side of things, they roll a dice each trying to escape Bowser. Bowser has 5 die, and if he fails to catch up, he has the option to roll again That’s right, not only does Bowser have an extra die, he can try twice. This means it probably won’t be too much of a challenge for Bowser to catch up to you. When Bowser does catch you, you play a Bowser Minigame. Bowser has an advantage in most of these Minigames, but it’s nothing broken. There are a total of 10 Bowser minigames. In other words, you are confined to only 10 minigames in every playthrough of Bowser Party. This leaves every experience feeling similar, if not identical, and with only 3 boards for you to play Bowser Party on, the entire experience will get tiring. Fast.
Finally is the main reason Nintendo profited from this game, amiibo Party. In it, you use a compatible amiibo to play a game mode similar to Mario Party 1-8, with each character being separated trying to collect coins and buy stars. Each character has their own board, each with 3 unique spaces and 1 unique board event that you must enter every time you pass through. Each game is 10 turns, each with a minigame at the end. The person with the most amount of stars at the end of the game wins, with coins deciding tiebreakers. Despite the fact that each board has it’s own unique board events, each one (except for Bowser’s) feels exactly the same. With every board, the aesthetics and board events change, but the spaces stay the same. In other words, there will always be an item space in one part of the map on every character’s board. The only exception to this is Bowser’s board, who can occasionally place Bowser Spaces anywhere on the map. Bowser’s board, however, is probably my least favorite thanks to the fact that Bowser minigames are mandatory in this gamemode; no regular minigames. So if you didn’t like Bowser Party for this exact reason, I would not recommend buying Bowser’s amiibo. The amiibo bonus, a side option for the game, allows you to get a base for your amiibo in this mode once a day. This isn’t very enjoyable, nor is it even special in any way. It’s just a distraction to make your amiibo look prettier.
Amiibo Party has several design choices that just baffle me. For one, the game will always feel incredibly slow. Unlike past Mario Party games, you are confined to a linear square, and there is no option for a different board. On top of that, you can only roll a 1-6 with a regular dice block. In the original Mario Party games, regular die would go up to 10. I understand those boards were much bigger, but if you are playing with friends, then be prepared to pass around the Gamepad a lot. Instead of just pressing a button, you need to physically put the amiibo on the Gamepad to roll. I could understand this every time you finish a board to save your progress on the amiibo, but why every turn? That leaves you constantly stretching across the room to give your friend the Gamepad. Not only does this make Gameplay awkward artificially, it leaves the game tacking on at least another few minutes. On top of that, amiibo players can use tokens, small items you pick up when you move past them. These can range from changing a quadrant of the board to someone else’s board, to rolling five die at once. I personally have never played a game of amiibo party with more than 3 people, so i’ve always had a CPU join me. And every time, they end up in last place because of their lack to use tokens. Why can they not use the tokens? They are just items to use on the board, so you have an unfair advantage from the start.
Despite the game’s flaws, the graphics are pleasing to the eye. Cloudtop Cruise in particular looks beautiful on the Wii U, and despite it’s flaws, amiibo Party has some pleasing aesthetics. The sound is another thing however. There isn’t one track that stood out to me, and the only one I could think of off the top of my head was the main theme, mostly because I tend to stay on menus for a considerably long time when I play alone. This is the only Mario Party game to date that didn’t have a board track I would listen to on my downtime. Clockwork Castle from Mario Party 6 comes to mind; I remember leaving my Gamecube on just listening to the music this board had when I was a kid. This game just has nothing like that. Quite possibly the biggest flaw is that amiibo Party is basically a $13 DLC. Not only that, but if you want to play with 4 other friends, they all need an amiibo. So basically, you need to pay $52 extra just for a game mode. This is easily the worst design choice in the entire game, and really bogs down amiibo Party. Luckily, unlike other amiibo, all of them (except for Toad, being uncommon, and the Mario variants, being rare) are common, so you won’t have any stock issues.
Another thing Mario Party 10 doesn’t do that most other installments have done is a story mode. If you can believe it, this is the thing that bothers me the most in the entire game. As someone who doesn’t have many willing people to play this game with, I would usually play through Story Mode or just play the regular game modes. Now, my favorite Mario Party, this being 6, didn’t feature a Story Mode. So why am I mad about it here? Simple: 6 had a lot of things to do. After about 8 hours of gameplay, you will get bored of Mario Party 10. Typically, I go through the Story Mode to deviate myself and have something to occupy my time. And since Mario Party 10 had so little to do, I remember looking through the menus to see if there was a Story Mode, it was just poorly place. Go figure, I was wrong.
In the end, I can’t believe Nintendo would approve this mess. The game is full of poor design choices, mediocre music, a giant amiibo paywall and an overall bland and slow experience. I knew of the game’s flaws going in, but I didn’t want to believe it. I loved the Mario Party series to death as a kid, and I didn’t want to believe that there was a bad game in the franchise. I was wrong, and just ended up paying over $100 for this game and the amiibo. I do not recommend Mario Party 10 to anyone, and would just recommend buying any other Mario Party if you really want a party game.