Mario Party 10
I get Mario Party. I have fun when I play it, and though the random elements of the game can be absolutely infuriating, I understand why they’re there. To place one player immensely in the lead, or to throw another tremendously behind isn’t fun for the group. The series has always been developed with the group in mind, and Mario Party 10 is no different. If you’re playing with people you enjoy, you’re going to have a good time. In almost any other scenario, however, it’s a monotonous trudge through the multicolored fantasy worlds of the Mushroom Kingdom.
The standard Mario Party mode is here copied from Mario Party 9, but with new maps and minigames. You travel as a group in a vehicle as opposed to separately on a board, which I prefer. Players don’t waste time during their turn mapping out the board, and it speeds up the pace and keeps everyone together. A new option to use a “no luck” minigame pack is a welcome addition; it doesn’t completely eliminate the luck factor of Mario Party, but it helps. The main mode plays it safe, but Mario Party 10 does try something different with the new Bowser and Amiibo Party modes.
Bowser Party places one player on the GamePad and up to four other players on Wii remotes, turning Mario Party into an asymmetrical multiplayer board game. The team, together in their vehicle, tries to outrun Bowser. When it’s Bowser’s turn, he rolls multiple dice to try to catch up. If Bowser reaches the other players, he gets a chance to knock down their collected hearts during minigames. Bowser’s goal is to eliminate everyone before they make it to the end.
On a few occasions, Bowser uses the GamePad view to hide traps on the board, or gets to play the minigames from a different perspective, but the GamePad feels underused. After fantastic minigames like Mario Chase from Nintendoland that took good advantage of the secondary screen, it seemed like Mario Party was poised to show off some interesting GamePad functionality. After a few rounds, I was underwhelmed. It feels like a missed opportunity overall to really show what can be done with a second screen, but I still prefer Bowser Party over the standard mode and Amiibo Party.
The idea behind Amiibo Party is the Amiibo you hold in your hand is the piece you see on screen. The mode offers smaller boards than typical Mario Party boards, but functionally the game is the same – roll dice, try to get stars, play minigames. In order to roll the dice and select items, you pick up your Amiibo, touch it to a gamepad and remove it. This is charming at first, but if you have any more than one person playing, it means every player has to hold their Amiibos, a Wii remote, and have access to the GamePad. It’s clunky, and becomes complicated quickly when everyone has to trade between the three inputs of play.
Amiibo Party should answer the question, “What are these things for?” – a common question for those who aren’t interested in buying Amiibos purely as collectibles. You need an Amiibo to access the mode, and it’s easily the most substantial use of Amiibos yet – especially since they are truly implemented into (admittedly shallow) gameplay. This mode offers a lot of gameplay, but it is the weakest offering of Mario Party 10.
Along with the main three modes, you also get a collection of additional games too small to stand alone, but too large to be featured as minigames. Jewel Drop is an entertaining color matching physics-based puzzle game, and Badminton Bash recalls Wii Sports tennis among a few others. These games are fun, but ultimately nothing more than distractions.
Bowser Party stands out as the welcome twist to the standard Mario Party, and the option to play only skill-based minigames in any mode helps avoid some of the random frustration I have experienced with previous entries. I also appreciate the time-to-play estimations associated with each mode (as opposed to number of turns), and the minigame exclusive tournaments. All of this doesn’t alleviate the standard overarching Mario Party complaints: You won’t have fun without friends, and you’re going to get screwed no matter what at some point and you can’t do anything about it.
Watch us play an hour of Mario Party 10 from a recent live stream of the game.
Mario Party 10 mostly sticks to the formula, but experiments with two new modes – one more successfully than the other.