This week is moving along pretty quickly! I just hope I am not jinxing myself by saying that! The end of the week is a busy one for me due to personal matters, but I will get into that later on. For now, I am going to get some rest. I will catch you all in a few hours. Have a great morning everyone.
P.S. - Don’t forget to look back through the first page. There were a lot of updates this morning!
I can’t believe we are already at the 8th installment of the Mario Party series. It seems that there are no signs of stopping, and little in the way of innovation. While the Mario Party idea was an interesting one when it first hit the N64, things quickly became stale as we moved into the Cube era. New boards, characters, and games were thrown in to warrant the next sequel, but these inclusions weren’t really new at all. The minigames may have had a fresh coat of paint, but you were completing the same goals you did in the previous versions. Catch coins with a fishing pole, catch fish with a finishing pole; catch (blank) with a fishing pole…many other games suffered the same fate. There are only so many different ideas you can pour into a game like Mario Party. That’s what gave me such high hopes for the Wii version. I thought that finally we would see something new through the use of the Wiimote. There had to be some new minigames that would take advantage of the control scheme. Today I had a chance to check out the game with three friends. Unfortunately there were more ups than downs.
Okay, so the good news is that the game still offers fun in multiplayer. No matter how many Mario Party titles come out, the game will still provide fun in a multiplayer setting. There’s just no denying that gaming with a group of friends provides an entertaining experience. You get into the heat of the battle through many elements. The hunt for stars, the champ of minigames, and the general screwing over of your pals. The competitive nature lends to a lot of great moments, even if there is a feeling of “been there, done that”. I know I can also count on Mario Party to be an enjoyable game for newcomers to the series as well as veterans. I felt that same sense of fun with Mario Party 8, even though I had played a lot of these games over and over.
The bad news is plentiful this time around. My biggest gripe has to come under the minigame collection itself. There are a number of ways that Mario Party 8 shows it was meant to be a Cube game, but the worst offenders are the games themselves. I expected a lot of unique ideas for the first Wii outing, but they just aren’t there. A lot of the minigames have you turning the Wiimote on its side, and using the D-Pad and face buttons. I am not saying this is a bad thing, but it just doesn’t make sense with the Wii version. I want more motion sensing games, more pointing games…more unique ideas based around these functions. There are a number of games that do use the capabilities of the Wiimote, but you can tell that this wasn’t a ground-up Wii title. The one thing I thought would be a given for the Wii version is sorely lacking.
Graphics are never a big part of Mario Party, and they aren’t really something to complain about. Having said that, it still bugs me that this game looks no better than the last Cube entry. Once again we can see that this game was Cube game at heart. When Mario Party first hit the Cube, we saw a nice bump in graphics, and a style that was maintained through the series. Now on the Wii we get the same damn thing. I know there’s not a ton of horsepower to work with, but they could have definitely beefed things up. Look at how fantastic Super Mario Galaxy looks. That game proves that something more could have been done with Mario Party 8. It really irks me that Nintendo would take a first party title like this and allow it to go this way. I guess graphics just aren’t a main concern when it comes to the Mario Party series.
Another gripe is the final nail in the Cube coffin. This game has what I like to call “fake widescreen”. Rather than a true 16:9 output, Mario Party 8 has borders on the left and right of the screen. A first party title where they don’t even bother to make widescreen. That is just uncalled for. I don’t want to play Mario Party in this fake mode. Now, it doesn’t hurt the gameplay at all, but it reeks of laziness. Come to think of it, Mario Party 8 was pushed back a few months from its original release date. What was going on with that delay? I am used to seeing Nintendo take a lot of time with their games, and provide a certain amount of polish and care. I believe that is the reason Mario Party 8’s shortcomings bother me so much.
From what I’ve seen, we are given another mediocre Mario Party title. The multiplayer is fun, and Nintendo knows this. They are content with not changing the series as long as they provide that same experience. The rest of the game bugs me, but that damn multiplayer is still fun. I plan on playing it a lot actually. The rest of the people that played with me were a mix of Mario Party veterans and first timers. No one had any complaints but me. Everyone had fun, and everyone wants to play again. The first timer was particularly impressed. I guess that is one reason Nintendo took the shoddy way out here. With the Wii comes new gamers…gamers that haven’t played Mario Party 1-7. No need to impress someone that is new to the series. I am just hoping that the inevitable Mario Party 9 rights the wrongs of this entry. The best way to describe the 8th installment is by calling it a hugely missed opportunity.
Mario Party was, and still can be a great series for Nintendo. Put some time and effort into the next version. I know you don’t work alone on these projects. It’s time to put your heads together with Hudson and reinvent the series. Give us some truly new games. Take advantage of the Wiimote and Nunchuck. Expand upon the board layouts and ideas. And finally, give us some damn online play! If there were ever a Nintendo title that screams for online play, Mario Party is it. I am not a huge online gamer, but if Mario Party 9 doesn’t have online play, I believe Nintendo has made a huge mistake. The franchise needs and deserves an overhaul. It’s time to breathe new life into a once innovative franchise.
Audio review of Mario Party 8 coming soon
Audio review of Mario Party 8 coming soon