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Mario Party 9 Review
Developer: NDCUBE Co., Ltd.
Platform: Nintendo Wii
ESRB: E for Everyone
Release Date: Out now
I’m sure all of us have played a Mario Party game at least once. Whether you played a game at a friend’s house on their Nintendo 64 or you played at home with your siblings – there’s no doubt the series provides a large amount of multiplayer fun and laughs. Maybe you played single-player more often instead? No problem with that; there was still a lot of enjoyment to be found there, too. So does the new entry to the series, Mario Party 9, live up to the previous games in the series then? Or does it completely fall flat with the drastic changes made to the system that was formerly set up?
Immediately upon starting the game and reaching the main menu, you may realize this Mario Party doesn’t really delve much into any premise for a story (and Toad is yet again the nasally guy-in-charge). Just Bowser up to no good again and stealing stars. That doesn’t matter, though – this is a party game meant for multiplayer goodness! Looking around, there are a couple of modes familiar to the series like playing mini-games by themselves, redeeming points for special items and features, and of course, party mode. A story mode for the game (separate from regular single-player) is also something prevalent to mention. In it, you traverse through each game board Mario Party 9 has to offer in order to get back the stars from Bowser. More on that later, though.
Whether you first choose to play the single-player story mode or party mode, you’ll soon find that there have been many alterations made to the way the game plays. And, if this is your first Mario Party game and won’t be able to take note of the changes, you’ll recognize luck is the name of the game once you get your first game over with, regardless.
What Mario Party 9 does the most different from other titles in the series is its change from traveling around the game board on your own to sticking everyone in a vehicle and taking turns hitting a dice block to go from start to finish. On that note: yes, there is no longer a set amount of turns before the game ends. This modification, unfortunately, is for the worse and makes each game feel extremely linear and short. Another change includes unification of stars and coins into a unit called “Mini Stars”, which just feels like only having coins now (since you can have up to 999 of these, too) with the absence of regular stars.
And yet another odd decision made to this new entry into the series is the removal of items (such as mushrooms, warp pipes, and genie lamps). Instead, most likely due to the new vehicle system, you are given different dice (like 1-3, 0-1, or “slow”) that claim to add a new form of strategy to the game. Sure, it may do that to some extent when you’re faced with bad spaces ahead of you or wanting to land on that awesome spot, but luck and chance still overshadows that by a long shot.
Chance spaces run rampant across each game board and specialty dice can make or break you depending on who’s using them at that moment. A lot of the mini-games present in Mario Party 9 are also luck based. And if you choose to leave bonus stars on for the results at the end of a game, then that’s another luck factor you have to look forward to. To put things simply, put away your strategic game plans away since you’re going to be wanting to coerce Lady Luck on your side this time. The thematic game boards don’t offer much in variety, either, in terms of switching up gameplay and whatnot. So get used to having things switch on you often. It provides some laughs among you and your friends that you’re playing with, at least.
Mario Party 9 isn’t all bad. The mini-games are as fun as ever (although, since there aren’t turns anymore, they only appear on specific spaces and randomly). It’s also fun to unlock everything that Museum mode has to offer, which includes new game boards and putting back the stars and constellations in the sky that Bowser stole. At least, that gives you some sort of drive to continually put yourself through playing Party Mode and Solo Mode. The graphics are also bright and colorful in a pleasing way, which is something that is to be expected from a Mario game.
It’s unfortunate, though, that the negativities of this particular Mario Party title outweigh what little good it does have. New features that were implemented to add some variety and spice to a long-running formula instead bring it down severely. So if you’re looking for some more Mario Party multiplayer fun, it’s probably best to just return to the earlier titles in the series rather than diving into Mario Party 9.
+ The mini-games, as always, are of great variety and a treat to play
+ Special unlockables like new game boards give you something to strive for, at least
- Luck plays too much of a part over skill
- The new vehicle system makes each game feel boring, linear, and short
Overall: 5 (out of 10)
Fans of the Mario Party series looking for another great multiplayer experience will be sorely disappointed. Only consider buying Mario Party 9 if you really need a new party game.
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