N64 Review: Mario Party
Review by: Namek (namek@sm128c.com)

Game Info

 System: N64
 ESRB: Everyone
 Genre: Board Game
 # of Players: 1-4
 Size: 256 Megabits
 Developer: Hudson Soft
 Publisher: Nintendo

 Controller Pak: No
 Rumble Pak: Yes
 Transfer Pak: No

 Release Date:
 US: Feb 8, 1999
 EU: Sep 3, 1999
 JP: Dec 18, 1998

Screenshots:

Screenshot

Screenshot

Screenshot

Final Score:
9.2/10

Reviewed on: March 5, 1999

In my freshman psychology class, I learned about a mental phenomenon called "dissociative identity disorder" or "multiple personality disorder." This disorder supposedly causes a person's mind to split itself into several different "personalities." These separate personalities are often so unique that one is completely different from the other. Some psychologists doubt the disorder exists, but I believe in it. Why? I've seen it in action, care of a little video game from Nintendo and Hudson Soft called Mario Party. Here is a case study to prove my point.

Case Study: Mario Party
Physician: Dr. Asur VGD (Video Games Doctor)
Medical Facility: Video Games Mental Health Institute

Feb, 10, 1999

(2:00 p.m.) - Patient arrived in my care. I decided to immediately put the subject through a preliminary test. I must note that during this experiment, I was alone.

At first, the subject seemed to emanate an insatiable charm. I was inexplicably drawn to the subject's gorgeous cut-scenes, in which Mario and the gang argued over who was, to quote, "the biggest star."

The subject's graphics were bright and cheery, but as I navigated the game's well thought out menus, I had a feeling that the bright exterior only served to mask the turmoil within. I decided to study the information that was passed to me with the patient. Apparently, the patient was a "video board game," which means that it plays like a board game, yet is on a TV screen. When one spends time with the subject, you roll a die, and then move the number you rolled on the "board." Once you move the appropriate amount of spaces, you'll find one of many different helps or hazards. Some spaces give you "coins" which you may use to buy "Stars" - the ultimate goal in Mario Party. Other spaces take away coins. Sometimes you may land on a mini-game or a Bowser. This is where the subject really gets interesting. Mario Party contains 50 of these mini-games, and the object in each is different. Luckily, a little mushroom that the subject calls "Toad" (leading this physician to immediately suspect drug abuse) tells you how to proceed in each mini-game. You will either win or lose coins by participating in these acts. The player with the most stars when the game is over wins.

Having read thoroughly the information, I decided to proceed with my experimentů

(2:05 p.m.) - After successfully navigating the subject's menus I began the examination. Again, I must reiterate, I was quite foolishly starting my experiment alone. This would later prove to be a grievous error.

The subject almost immediately went out of my control. As I began my test, I rolled a die to start "my turn." I rolled a three, and onscreen Mario strolled three spaces. Not bad. I realized that the subject's music was fairly good, and I even recognized some songs from earlier Mario games, such as the Underground Theme from Super Mario Bros. As I stated earlier, the subject's graphics were bright and cheery, yet they lacked the polish found in similar games, such as Mario 64. Still, the graphics were quite well done.

As my turned ended, things became ugly. The subject took over. As the subject rolled the die and moved, all I could do was watch. I just sat there as Toad, Peach and Luigi rolled the die, pranced along the board, and collected their spoils. Once all of the turns were done, we began one of the subject's 50 mini-games.

(2:08 p.m.) - I began my first mini-game with the subject, still alone. The game involved trying to break blocks using either a hammer or your hands. Although the game was interesting, I would hardly call it "entertaining." My first mini-game with the subject was not encouraging.

(2:20 p.m.) - After many repetitions of the above experiments, I decided that the subject could most definitely be considered "boring." Thinking my diagnosis was clear, I decided that I would take the subject to my parent's house to study the subject's "age appropriateness." Often subjects that I find "boring" will evoke an unexplainable devotion in my two younger siblings, so I thought it was worth the effort.

(5:43 p.m.) - My work done, I pack up my belongings and head home. The subject rested quietly in the seat beside me during transit, and try as I might I could not strike up a conversation with the subject. I decided to abandon trying to converse, and we spent the rest of our trip in relative silence.

(6:07 p.m.) - I arrived at my parent's home. After saying hello, I sat down in the den to watch TV.

(6:34 p.m.) - I suddenly become aware of a commotion in the basement. My siblings had returned from whatever escapade they had undertaken that day, and had sat down to play some N64. I decided to take the chance to introduce the subject. As I was aware that my siblings had not previously met the subject, I decided to participate in the first experiment along with them.

(6:54 p.m.) - After again watching the subject's endearing cut-scenes and navigating the game's menus (plus threatening to turn the damn game off if they didn't stop arguing about who was going to be the Princess), we started the experiment. I was expecting no more information or entertainment than the day's earlier experiments had brought.

(7:46 p.m.) - I realize that I have spent almost an hour with the subject, and I was enjoying myself. Unlike the earlier experiments, the subject seemed to be a lot more receptive, and was actually a joy to test. I decided that maybe I was too hasty with my earlier diagnosis, and I would try the experiment again the next day. I left the subject in the hands off my siblings, and went to get something to eat.

(9:32 p.m.) - I returned from my dinner. The subject was still in the hands of my siblings, and I decided that I would test the subject a bit more.

(10:44 p.m.) - My parents realize that my siblings were supposed to be in bed 45 minutes ago, and they are pulled from the experiment. I decide to stop the experiments for now.

Feb. 11, 1999

(2:24 a.m.) - I finally get to bed. Don't ask.

(9:30 a.m.) - I sneak in SM64C, an hour and a half late for work. I decide that the subject will have to wait, and I go about my daily duties (i.e. my slave labor).

(3:12 p.m.) - I decide that I will study the subject in detail again. Again, I foolishly go into the experiment alone.

(3:23 p.m.) - I begin to realize my patient's actual problem. I decide to write up my preliminary diagnosis.

Mar. 5, 1999

(6:36 p.m.) - After spending many hours, both alone and with friends, testing the subject. I have decided on a complete diagnosis.

Official Diagnosis:

This subject suffers from a very extreme case of Dissociative Identity Disorder. While the subject is with one person, the subject is very lame and boring. Anyone who plans on spending time with this subject should be forewarned that doing so alone could cause boredom and drowsiness. Alcohol may increase these effects. Care should be taken while operating heavy machinery.

On the other hand, time spent with this subject in the presence of friends can be quite entertaining. In fact, this subject may be increasingly addictive when used in the presence of others. If you feel you are becoming addicted, please contact your local chapter of MPA (Mario Party Anonymous). In conclusion, one should not seek out this subject unless you have friends or siblings that can play also, but a rental during a slumber party could go a long way.

-- Namek (namek@sm128c.com)

Bottom Line: Nintendo just seems to find ways to sell Mario. First was Mario Kart and now it's a board game. Where do they get all these ideas?