We saw four mini-games and a game board from the upcoming portable Mario Party.
From what we’ve seen of Mario Party: Island Tour, which admittedly isn’t much, we’re intrigued. While the lack of online multiplayer is certainly a bummer, the four mini-games we played took advantage of the 3DS in fun ways that could certainly make Island Tour a great game to break out at events such as PAX.
First off, rather than continuing the group travel method of Mario Party 9, Island Tour reverts back to allowing everyone to travel individually. As usual, the variety of boards have their own gimmicks. For example, Banzai Bill's Mad Mountain has players climbing a mountain installed with Banzai Bill Blasters. After rolling the die, you can risk making progress on the board or hide out in cave. Whenever somebody rolls a Banzai Bill, it fires across one of the board's horizontal ledges, knocking back everybody in its path. So the board revolves around risk-taking and luck. And, by the way, die rolling is fairly realistic -- you jiggle it around on the touch screen and fling it onto the top screen, which means you can kind of control how it lands.
The first mini-game we saw was Buzz a Fuzzy. The game involves four players competing to fire arrows at a series of Fuzzies slowly moving around. The trick is that all players are aiming in the same area, and if you wait too long to fire your shot, another player could have stolen your Fuzzy chain. You receive a point for each Fuzzy you hit, and there are three rounds where you each fire one arrow. The controls are the more interesting part, though. You hold the system up and move it to aim. To fire an arrow, you pull back (i.e. hold down) on the Circle Pad and then let go to fire. It’s the kind of controls that almost don’t need explaining.
The second mini-game was Slip Not, where each player controlled their character as they ride a raft down a winding, watery path. The only input used was the system’s gyroscope as you turned it like a steering wheel. Slip Not was fun and challenging. When we played it, we both made it roughly two-thirds of the way through. The Nintendo rep, who had been playing the game most of the day, hadn’t even reached the end before.
Ka-Goomba, the next one we saw, is a mini-game that requires players to use one of the AR Cards included with the Nintendo 3DS hardware itself. Anyone that has messed around with some of the AR games that come preinstalled on their 3DS will feel right at home with Ka-Goomba. The first portion of the multiplayer game involved players competing to shoot at augmented-reality Goombas as they appeared near the card. Aiming is done by physically moving the 3DS in real space to get a better shot at each Goomba. Regular Goombas are worth 1 point, Gold Goombas are worth 3.
At the end of the minigame there is a boss fight against a Whomp. The Whomp, as Mario fans would know, has a big weak spot on its back. Therefore players need to fight over who is able to shoot its weak spot in order to gain some last minute points.
Island Tour strives to use all of the 3DS's features -- in addition to the gyroscope, the game features a few mini-games that use the dreaded microphone. But in the right setting, its use is perfect. In Choicest Voice, a random Mario character is selected and a clip of their voice plays. Players have to match the voice as closely as possible, and judges within the game choose the best match. Luckily, the game only rates by the amplitude envelope -- you don't have to get the pitch right. Despite having to do a Princess Peach imitation against a female Nintendo rep, Aaron still edged out a victory.