Mario Party isnâ€™t a game to play by yourself so immediately I called three friends around. After some lunges for stretching, getting some drinks and putting on our sweat-bands we were ready for a frenzy of mini-game madness.
Itâ€™s safe to say we must have looked quite ridiculous. For around three and a half hours there were four grown men jumping around waving their arms frantically and shouting â€śgive me back my barrel!â€ť in my living room. It didnâ€™t help matters that we were taking orders from a giant talking top hatâ€¦ oh, and we were slightly intoxicated too. But fun times were being had by all.
For those who are not familiar with the Mario Party franchise, the game is more like a collection of quick, easy to learn activities that each utilise the Wii controllers in unique ways. This latest version of Mario Party takes the trip to the Star Carnival and presents you with a board-game like map. Four players move around the board by bashing a dice around, with the objective being to collect as many coins and stars as possible before they finish a set number of turns.
Between each round is a random mini-game that all four players take part in, and you might find yourself swinging at baseballs, shaking soda cans, racing go-karts, punching statues, rowing a boat and even walking a tightrope - all using the innovative Wii Remote. For most of these activities you will be holding the Wii-mote on its side to steer and balance but for others you had better be wearing that wrist strap unless you want to be minus a few friends due to concussions.
The board is also divided up into a series of themes as well that are influenced by past Nintendo titles like The Haunted Mansion, Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros. These areas are detailed and for Nintendo fans, seeing past game environments will be a blast. Each theme leads to associated activities as well and gives you a feeling that you are progressing somewhere rather than just playing random games.
Unfortunately though, the whole board-game interface ends up being the biggest let-down as a lot of your endeavours can be destroyed by pure fate. With the roll of your dice you could land on a bad square and lose half your stars which you worked so hard to earn by winning three mini-games. Although it did tend to make things interesting when the leader was knocked down a few notches it proved to be more frustrating than fun due to its unavoidable nature.
Most of the mini-games were wrist-achingly brilliant and offered a ton of laughs. A personal favourite was the first-person ghost-hunting mission that most Nintendoholics out there will instantly recognise. But truth be told, there were a handful of games that I would never want to play again too. This is mainly because all of the mini-games are uncomplicated to allow people to quickly master them but then lack enough substance to keep you enthralled. Another sore point in the game is the average presentation. The series has always been about bright high-contrasting colours and recognisable characters, (both of which this game has by the bucket-load) but the graphics look on par, or possibly slightly worse, than the old Gamecube version.
Mario Party 8 is still one of the better mini-game Wii titles out there thanks to a star-studded cast and the innovative controls. But for the serious competitive gamers out there, the large aspect of luck will start to detract from the enjoyment of this game. Certainly highly recommended for younger groups and as the name suggests â€“ parties. But perhaps this should be more of a rental title for said such occasions rather than a keeper.