Professional wrestling is often predicated on the notion that there’s a fan-favourite to cheer and a villain to boo. This age-old narrative is evident in all popular media, including video games; for every Ryu, there’s an M.Bison, for every Warden a broodmother and of course, for every Mario a Bowser.
This animosity is usually so apparent that both sides don’t even share a locker room.
This is what makes the Mario games so perplexing: that Peach constantly gets kidnapped by Bowser, and then joins him for a four-ball, tennis match and a race at Mario Circuit (which is basically Zwartkop raceway with fewer questionable mushrooms).
Mario Party 10 at its core is a series of mini-games held together by a four-player virtual board game experience across a variety of Super Mario World locations. Each game requires four players, but not to worry, should you not have a full human team, the game supplies AI players.
In Mario Party 10, there are three modes to play: Mario Party, Bowser Party (a new mode which added an interesting spin on the old mechanic) and amiibo Party, which incorporates Nintendo’s character figures.
There are five boards in total this time around, so initially I felt a little cheated as the predecessor had seven. But a bigger issue emerged after two playthroughs: none of the stages were particularly memorable. There were different bosses, and small structural changes, but everything seemed like a chore, with the boss being nothing more than a delay to the end.
Eighteen hours in and I don’t have a favourite, compared to Super Mario World where I loved any level that kept me above water and away from those dreadful fish.
I owned a copy of the original Mario Party back when people danced awkwardly to Eiffel 65’s Blue and no one really knew what the Matrix was about. Sixteen years on and not much has changed in those respects, but the world has moved on in other ways and Mario Party 10 – for all its charm and nostalgia – remains a relic of a time passed.
An area where the game suffers is that the game boards take, on average, half an hour to complete.
The original Mario Party never had to compete for attention against a huge selection of instant message services, social media networks and video-on-demand content providers. Half an hour might not seem like a long period of time, especially for those who emerge from Call of Duty sessions after days, hiding from sunlight like unsparkly vampires, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a challenge. Perhaps this is due to the long loading times, the scarcity of actual mini-games and the inability to skip or speed up the computer’s turn.
In this way, Mario Party is a lot like riding the Cobra at Gold Reef City – lots of waiting around before a small jolt of fun. It didn’t help knowing that a vast majority of the game relied on luck, and I often felt frustrated with the balancing or rather, the lack thereof. And annoyingly, it’s very similar to Mario Kart in that the computer will just catch up towards the end to add some stress in a “weird fixed game show” sort of way.
One of the bigger challenges I faced was that the game requires a Wii-mote in order to play.
Long ago I gifted my Wii to undeserving niblings, leaving me with only one Wii-mote. I found this to be problematic, but also rather indicative of the machine’s shortcomings as it can’t seem to shake off its Wii legacy. This is perhaps a reason why the Wii U failed to take off; I’m sure lots of people still buy Wii U games and try playing them on their Wiis.
Perhaps I’m biased because the original N64 had four controller ports, and lent itself to local four-player split-screen action. I guess it’s a sign of the times that online play has eroded this previously-popular method of gaming.
Mario Party 10 does continue a long tradition of first-party games on Nintendo’s Wii U console, in that the graphics are amazing. They have a sheen to them that rivals Super Mario 3D Land and Super Smash Bros for the Wii U. The game really is a pleasure to behold, it’s just not a lot of fun to play.
I’m a huge Nintendo fan, but I can’t help but feel underwhelmed at this offering. Forgettable mini-games, poor pacing and no real memorable moments make Mario Party 10 the Hulk Hogan in a John Cena world, holding on to something past and being unable to evolve.
Mario Party 10 is exclusive to the Nintendo Wii U and retails for R599, or buy it for R699 bundled with an amiibo Mario.
[Images – e3.nintendo.com]