Mario Party: Island Tour
For over 10 entries, the Mario Party series has been met with critical apathy while continuing to sell millions of copies. Its incredibly bare-bones gameplay approach has managed to attract fans thanks to a recognizable brand and a low barrier of entry. Nintendo has managed to dumb down the already-basic formula Mario Party has featured since 1998. Island Tour eliminates stars and coins on most boards, instead tasking players with simply reaching the end of a course before others.
Almost every game comes down to random rolls of the dice, with bonus rolls awarded for winning awful minigames. Many of these don’t even hide the fact that they’re based on luck, with unintentionally funny tips such as “Pick a space on the wheel, and hope for the best!” This formula repeats itself numerous times, since you also randomly choose shells and flowers and hope that they don’t make you to lose. Somehow, the franchise has devolved from minigames that leaned heavily on luck to those that consist entirely of it.
Even the minigames that technically require some thought or input are as predictable and simple as anything you could imagine. You and your friends can choose between the same set of characters that Nintendo fans have been used to since the ‘90s, and occasionally hop into minigames with punny titles like Xylophone Home, Garden of Eatin’, and Squish You Were Here. These activities occasionally make some use of the 3DS’s gyro controls or microphone, but the vast majority are of the cookie cutter “knock your opponents off this thing/see how long you can stay on this thing/don’t get hit by these things” variety.
While the minigames may be almost uniformly miserable, Mario Party: Island Tour actually offers some nice options if you plan on slogging through it. You can select from packs of minigames and omit microphone-based games if you desire. At the outset of your party, each board gives you an estimate length of time that it will take. Most importantly, up to four players can join the game even if only one of them owns it. Unfortunately, no amount of options can overcome the inane gameplay. I’ve defended the series in the past as harmless, dumb fun, but Island Tour is wholly unenjoyable.