Super Mario Party: Not out with the old; still in with the new

John Enright, Reporter

Mario Party is an odd love-child between Nintendo’s top mascot and the board games that you and your siblings used to play when you were children that usually resulted in fist-fights. A questionable balance of skill and chance doesn’t sound like a particularly fun time until you add the spice of quirkiness and color that is the signature mark of Nintendo’s most well-known franchise. We’re eleven games in with the most recent addition to the franchise: Super Mario Party. So what progression warrants interest in the 11th version of a game that, for the most part, doesn’t change much?

Differences in the game’s design once you start playing are immediately noticeable as you are forced to choose characters and difficulties before you even see the game’s menu. The menu itself is a fairground-like area in which player one can guide the rest of them to whatever mode that he/she chooses. Already, we have a power struggle between players set up here that really captures the tension of the series as it was before. This tension evolves throughout the six central modes.

Some game modes are built around the mobility of the system itself with the smaller screen. These modes do require specific arrangements for room and table areas that my current apartment could not accommodate, so I will not be going over these.

The classic Mario Party mode is very lackluster with smaller stages and nerfed CPU difficulties. There are only four stages for this mode; these, along with the rest of the game, look absolutely beautiful with the graphics and the color. One addition that impressed me, though, was the concept of unique dice for each character and team building. Each character has a unique set of dice as an alternative to the normal dice that characters use to move forward along the board. This is a nice addition were it not for the fact that it makes some characters ridiculously overpowered. The team building allows players to recruit characters from the remaining roster to assist with dice rolling and some mini-games.

The stage design makes much more sense when one plays through partner mode, which takes away the linear set-up of Mario Party and turns it into a team based game. This re-uses the stages from the standard mode in a way that makes a lot more sense. Each player rolls their dice and can move onto any adjacent square on the stage to maneuver around obstacles and make a unique course toward the star spaces or the items on the stage.

Mini-games on Super Mario Party are fantastically imaginative and fun. River Survival mode takes players rafting down rapids with co-op mini-game challenges set up along the way to increase the chances of making it to the end of the hazardous river. Sound Stage is a rhythm game that uses the remote’s motion controls in rhythm based mini-games that are surprisingly fun. After playing all of the mini-games, there is a challenge mode that you can unlock that has mini-game missions that push your mini-gaming skills to the limit.

The days of standard Mario Party are fading fast with better designed CPUs and a better sense of balance between chance and skill. While the broken charm of Mario Party may be gone, its evolution beyond tradition is what sets this game apart from its predecessors. It is my hope that future Mario Party games stick with the new and abandon the old as the franchise continues to evolve. Until then, the treasure of Super Mario Party lies in the points where it reaches for something new.

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