Wii

North America

Mario Party 8

by Aaron Kaluszka - May 31, 2007, 7:34 pm PDT
Total comments: 43

6

Bored game.

In its eighth console iteration over as many years, a new Mario Party is almost as certain as a new Madden title. Yet in those eight years, I’ve somehow managed to avoid the series until now. I thought I’d look back to see what this site had in mind for a Mario Party sequel, back before even the second game came out. After all this time, almost none of those ideas have been added to the game. The addition of Wii controls cannot overcome that deficit, and both the core gameplay and usual saving grace – the mini-games – fail to make Mario Party a good party game even on Wii, the "party game system."

The game includes a carnival theme, and a Party Tent houses the main board game modes, each of which uses slightly different rules. The carnival also includes the Star Battle Arena, which is a single player game similar to the normal party game; a Mini-game Tent, where unlocked mini-games can be played; an Extras Zone; and a Fun Bazaar, where players can see records and redeem point cards. Most, but not all of the game is controlled with only the Wii Remote.

The basic gameplay has not changed: players take turns hitting a die and traversing a game board. Along the way, various spaces may give bonuses, trigger booby traps, or even change the structure of the game board itself. The primary goal is to collect as many stars as possible before the end of the game. The board game’s camera angle has changed from prior editions, now zooming in on the player. This change makes the game feel less like a board game, since you cannot see what is going on more than a few spaces around your character.

After each player has taken his or her turn, all players engage in a brief mini-game. As in previous Mario Party games, the mini-games are divided into 4-player every-man-for-himself, 3 vs. 1, and 2 vs. 2 game sets. The color of the space that each player is positioned on determines the set the mini-game is selected from. Overall, there are dozens of mini-games, including other play types such as duels.

Upon the start of a mini-game, multiple screens full of text and animations explain the rules and controls of the game. Perhaps I’ve gotten used to WarioWare style of game play, but the Wii was supposed to bring in new audiences, not scare them away. Even though these instructions were present in previous iterations, requiring that much explanation should have given the game’s developers an indication that they should rethink their control schemes. This type of interface presents a potential problem to the many young children who will likely play this game. For that aforementioned audience, there are several handicap settings available to even out players’ abilities.

Some of the mini-games are similar to the types of pattern recognition games you might find in Big Brain Academy, while others are small arcade-like racers, obstacle courses, and target shooting. The mini-games are quite polished, though not always engaging. There are certainly several fun mini-games in the batch, especially the racing and shooting games, but then there are other throwaways such as one where players simply shake the remote as if it was a soda can. Each of these games is controlled in a different manner, some opting for traditional NES-style control, and others using the pointer or motion sensor. Unfortunately, some of the mini-games, particularly tilt-based games, are not as responsive as they should be. Still others use unintuitive control schemes that seem like they were included simply for diversity.

Being based on a board game, much of the game relies on random events. This can add excitement and an equalizing measure during multiplayer, but many gamers are competitive, and this lack of control over their destiny may become more of an irritation. As a partial remedy, the oft-derided end-of-game Bonus Stars can be turned off, removing some of the randomness. The game also introduces candy power-ups, which can be collected or bought at stores found along the board. These candies transform players into various forms such as vampires or Thwomps. These transformations give special powers such as the ability to attack and steal coins or hit multiple dice blocks on a single turn.

The boards themselves do not directly adhere to the carnival theme, though each is run by MC Ballyhoo, the bizarre carnival emcee with a talking hat. Each board includes unique features, such as Shy Guy’s Perplex Express, which has players ride a train with interchangeable cars that can quickly alter the contestants’ progress. Koopa’s Tycoon Town deviates the most from the standard formula with hints of Monopoly influence. On this board, players must invest their coins in hotels, and players with the highest investment will earn stars depending on the total number of invested coins. Another player can come along and invest even more to steal the stars away. Tycoon Town at least involves a little more strategy than the other boards.

What really kills the game play is the mind-numbing slowness of progression. Nothing except CPU mini-games can be skipped or sped up in any way, meaning players must sit through pointless and repetitive animations and monologue waiting for their next chance to do anything. The usual “A button skip" will do nothing for you here. Even real board games can go faster, and playing is more of a chore than entertainment. The standard 15-turn game takes between one and two hours to complete, making the 50-turn game option seem absolutely ludicrous.

Of course, while single player modes are available, Mario Party was intended to be played by multiple players. Playing with others certainly increases the fun, but not significantly, especially when there are so many more compelling multiplayer games already available for Wii. While your experience will depend somewhat on your friends, they are likely to ask when they can start playing Wii Sports instead. Even though mini-games have been a staple of Mario Party gameplay since the beginning, the advent of the Wii has introduced a plethora of mini-game collections, and the sad fact is that most of them are better than Mario Party.

Mario Party 8 tries to entice players to keep playing by providing a large array of unlockable items and features, obtained by redeeming point cards. The problem is that a single game can literally take hours to play, and few point cards are awarded after playing a game, meaning that it takes an inordinate amount of time to unlock everything, a painfully boring prospect. Even worse, mini-games that haven’t been played though Party Mode or bought with point cards cannot be played in the other modes, rendering them practically useless until significant time has been spent in the main game. For a party game, certain types of unlockables do not even make sense; why shouldn’t all of the fun be available whenever your friends are there?

The Extras Zone is another mini-game mode, with eight longer games designed for play with Miis. While mostly tacked on, these games are fairly decent, though there are a few odd inclusions, such as a bowling game that is inferior to the one that comes with the system in Wii Sports. Miis also appear as spectators in some of the mini-games.

While not a complete carbon copy of its predecessors, Mario Party 8 does nothing positive to distinguish itself from its progenitors or even other multiplayer Wii offerings. In fact, its forced board game style of play may be its biggest detriment, imposing a lot of down time just to play some quick mini-games. The series is screaming for reinvention, and even the introduction of Wii control was not enough to invigorate it.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
8 6.5 6 5.5 5.5 6
Graphics
8

While they don’t push the system to its limits by any means, the graphics are some of the most clean and polished found in any game released on Wii so far. While textures are not especially detailed, rounded shapes look truly round and lighting is done well. Unfortunately, the game does not have a true widescreen mode.

Sound
6.5

Reminiscent of Bomberman Land, the music consists of typical Hudson-esque melodies that are completely unmemorable. The occasional Mario remixes are flat. Voice work is a little spotty; for example, Daisy sounds like a female version of Timmy from South Park. The other characters sound muffled and are not much better.

Control
6

Several of the mini-games exhibit problems with control responsiveness. Also, the fact that every mini-game requires multiple pages of explanation flies in the face of the intended intuitive nature of Wii game control.

Gameplay
5.5

Due to the inability to speed up the board game portion of the game combined with the relative lameness of the mini-games, not even multiplayer is able to salvage the game from the doldrums. There are certainly a few mini-game gems, but getting the chance to play them is preceded by the tedious task of engaging the rest of the game.

Lastability
5.5

With all of the unlockable content, the game could last quite a long time, in theory. The question is whether or not you’re willing to sink that much time into a game that just isn’t that fun in comparison with other Wii party offerings. The game is no fun at all without friends, and sadly, the experience is not much better with them.

Final
6

Mario Party 8, much like the Pokemon franchise, will sell many copies despite significant pacing flaws and sometimes archaic game play. It’s really a shame since Hudson already showed they could put together a compelling mini-game package in titles such as Bomberman Land Touch. It wouldn’t hurt to evolve the franchise just a little bit beyond its roots.

Summary

Pros
  • Polished presentation
  • Several different game modes
Cons
  • After eight years, still no online
  • Inconsistent and occasionally confusing controls
  • Pace is plodding with no option to speed it up
  • Unlockables require significant time investment
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

TJ SpykeMay 31, 2007

It's the 8th game in 9 years, Nintendo didn't release a Mario Party game last year.

I haven't played a MP game since MP3, so I will be picking this one up.

8 years, 4 months. I chose to round down.

thatguyMay 31, 2007

Somebody is eagerly awaiting the next edition of Mario Party... face-icon-small-wink.gif

Bill AurionMay 31, 2007

Quote

After eight years, still no online

gintamaconstipation.jpg

MarioMay 31, 2007

Why would you troll Pokemon? Sounds like someone hates things that are popular. Go sulk.

Slowness of progression is my only worry, but since you haven't played any other Mario Parties, and you played this single player, I can't be sure this is really slow. Mario Party 5 I think had perfect pacing, while 4 was too slow. It doesn't matter anyway in the usual party setting, when someone gets up to get another beer during the board game bit anyway.

Infernal MonkeyMay 31, 2007

Quote

After eight years, still no online


Playing Mario Party online would be as depressing as say, an online Monopoly.

Quote

Originally posted by: Mario
Why would you troll Pokemon?

Pokemon, like Mario Party, is something that I never played until recently (aside from some of the spin-off games, which I enjoyed), and I started without an opinion one way or
another. I found it just as I described, and some people have told me that they're really only fun because of nostalgia from their predecessors.
Quote

Originally posted by: Infernal Monkey
Playing Mario Party online would be as depressing as say, an online Monopoly.

Hey, that would still be an improvement :-p

Bill AurionMay 31, 2007

Quote

some people have told me that they're really only fun because of nostalgia from their predecessors.

Don't make someone else's opinion your own... =)

I haven't, just offering an explanation for why it might be popular despite my impressions of it.

NinGurl69 *hugglesMay 31, 2007

Nah, that's completely illogical.

Nostalgia from Mario Party predecessors simply influences people to not bother with any Mario Party game that came after their favorite Mario Party game, basically more then half the series.

GO GO THINKING CAP

No no. That description was for Pokemon. You're probably right about Mario Party.

NeoThunderMay 31, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: Infernal Monkey
Quote

After eight years, still no online


Playing Mario Party online would be as depressing as say, an online Monopoly.


Guess what, if you don't want to play mario party online, you don't have to. If online play would have been included that doesn't mean you have to play online. People who play online, play with others that want to play online. OK!!! don't legislate your taste to be true just because it's your opinion. If you don't want to play onine, guess what.....you don't have to, it's no reason to restrict a feature that should be included in a muliplayer game.


Debate settled!!!!

I for one would love to play Mario Party online with some of my fellow NWR staffers and other online friends. I really wish Nintendo would give us that option.

SvevanEvan Burchfield, Staff AlumnusJune 01, 2007

With Voice Chat, 'twould be fun.

PlugabugzJune 01, 2007

Or... Online with DS connectivity thrown in?

Scribble on the DS screen to wobble the ground when they throw the die. The most frequently scribbled number is what overrides the "real" result.

Uncle BobJune 01, 2007

Debate not settled...

I like playing some games online. But, IMHO, Mario Party is *not* one of them... Mario Party online would be about as fun as single player modes against the CPU... Which isn't very fun at all.

Mario Party is a party game - meant to be played *in* - groups of people - not just "with".

It's not just a matter of "You don't like it, then don't use it"... Programming a game to go online is a pretty big deal - Would we rather Hudson spend the extra time/manpower to bring Mario Party online or (potentially) spend that same time developing other games/new IPs?

Mario Party is pretty much all about luck - and always has been. It doesn't matter how much skill you have, you can still lose ("And now, let's award a free star to whomever landed on the most of some random colored square!") Games of Skill are fun online because you can find yourself competing with people who might give you challenge. If you want to play a game of luck online, go on MSN, find a friend and take turns rolling a die and telling each other what you rolled... High number wins.

Infernal MonkeyJune 01, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: NeoThunder

Guess what, if you don't want to play mario party online, you don't have to.


You don't say! I thought for sure I'd play an online Mario Party right after stating how depressing I reckon it'd be!

Obviously, I was playing with the wrong crowd.

Quote

(01:21:04) Lizard_Dude: "but then there are other throwaways such as one where players simply shake the remote as if it was a soda can"
(01:21:05) Lizard_Dude: WHAT
(01:21:07) Lizard_Dude: THAT IS THE BEST GAME
(01:21:52) Lizard_Dude: Seriously, having four people in close proximity "shaking" their "remotes" rapidly up and down over their crotch to make their "soda" "squirt" the highest is the best Wii game anywhere thus far

NinGurl69 *hugglesJune 01, 2007

Twitch your Wiimote with VIGOR.

You should've seen the Rayman Carrot Juice game played in front a crowd of mid-20's adults...

Quote

Originally posted by: Uncle Bob
It's not just a matter of "You don't like it, then don't use it"... Programming a game to go online is a pretty big deal - Would we rather Hudson spend the extra time/manpower to bring Mario Party online or (potentially) spend that same time developing other games/new IPs?


Oh, at this point I think we'd all be happy if Hudson put any decent amount of effort into these games, whether it go towards online or streamlining the board game parts or designing all-new mini-games that are consistently great. But they seem content to push out the same crap every year either way. If you're arguing that the continued omission of online is what's allowing Hudson to concentrate on other parts of the series...I just don't think that argument holds much water after eight games that are all basically the same thing.

People also seem to be making the assertion that online Mario Party would be as crappy as 1-player Mario Party. This sidesteps my argument that the entire game concept is tired and needs significant improvement of which online play is just a part of.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusJune 02, 2007

I think its sad that we can all say is at least Mario Party isn't as generic as Hudson's other party game Fuzion Frenzy.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorJune 02, 2007

Look at it this way - if Mario Party 8 was this bad without them shoehorning in an online mode, how bad would it have been if they had attempted to put resources toward that?

Quote

Originally posted by: Jonnyboy117
Quote

Originally posted by: Uncle Bob
It's not just a matter of "You don't like it, then don't use it"... Programming a game to go online is a pretty big deal - Would we rather Hudson spend the extra time/manpower to bring Mario Party online or (potentially) spend that same time developing other games/new IPs?


Oh, at this point I think we'd all be happy if Hudson put any decent amount of effort into these games, whether it go towards online or streamlining the board game parts or designing all-new mini-games that are consistently great. But they seem content to push out the same crap every year either way. If you're arguing that the continued omission of online is what's allowing Hudson to concentrate on other parts of the series...I just don't think that argument holds much water after eight games that are all basically the same thing.


TJ SpykeJune 02, 2007

Online would improve the series a lot. What about if you want to play a game late at night? Or those who don't know anybody else with a Wii? I am not gonna buy 3 Wii Remotes just so I can play the occasional multiplayer game.

GoldenPhoenixJune 02, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: nintendogamecube86
Online would improve the series a lot. What about if you want to play a game late at night? Or those who don't know anybody else with a Wii? I am not gonna buy 3 Wii Remotes just so I can play the occasional multiplayer game.


Should have been buying those remotes over time instead of all at once, heck I have 3 remotes and 2 nunchucks (going to get another pair when I play MP8 with my family)

BloodworthDaniel Bloodworth, Staff AlumnusJune 03, 2007

I just realized how awesome MegaByte's avatar is.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusJune 03, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: GoldenPhoenix
Quote

Originally posted by: nintendogamecube86
Online would improve the series a lot. What about if you want to play a game late at night? Or those who don't know anybody else with a Wii? I am not gonna buy 3 Wii Remotes just so I can play the occasional multiplayer game.


Should have been buying those remotes over time instead of all at once, heck I have 3 remotes and 2 nunchucks (going to get another pair when I play MP8 with my family)


I agree unless your going to use them immediately get them overtime. Hell I still have only 1 360 controller because almost no game has split-screen since "everyone hates it" so your only options are playing over online and the much expensive and annoying setup, system link. It makes me sad how that is a trend on the 360(and potentially PS3) because it kills the fun of having a get together if only one in the group gets to play.

GoldenPhoenixJune 03, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: Lord_die_seis
Quote

Originally posted by: GoldenPhoenix
Quote

Originally posted by: nintendogamecube86
Online would improve the series a lot. What about if you want to play a game late at night? Or those who don't know anybody else with a Wii? I am not gonna buy 3 Wii Remotes just so I can play the occasional multiplayer game.


Should have been buying those remotes over time instead of all at once, heck I have 3 remotes and 2 nunchucks (going to get another pair when I play MP8 with my family)


I agree unless your going to use them immediately get them overtime. Hell I still have only 1 360 controller because almost no game has split-screen since "everyone hates it" so your only options are playing over online and the much expensive and annoying setup, system link. It makes me sad how that is a trend on the 360(and potentially PS3) because it kills the fun of having a get together if only one in the group gets to play.


Well I would think with the Wii you would be buying more Wiimotes because it has been quite obvious that many of the Wii games are meant to be played with family/friends.

Patchkid15Patrick Barnett, Associate EditorJune 03, 2007

would this be a good game to buy if you just need something to do for a whole month

GoldenPhoenixJune 03, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: Patchkid15
would this be a good game to buy if you just need something to do for a whole month


If you have someone to play with, I would say yes. Alone I would say, most definitely not.

thatguyJune 03, 2007

I used to try to play these games with my family. However, even with their completely random add-ins and all things like that, all three of my opponents would devise a plan to try to force me to lose. It didn't really work, and they didn't like it. I was always upset that they didn't include some hit games from the previous entries, instead creating new games, which purposefully avoid some of the better games they have created, causing the games to get worse and worse, rather than better. I won't be picking this up, though in two or three years, I'll probably get a Wii iteration of the game.

LuigiHannJune 03, 2007

"would this be a good game to buy if you just need something to do for a whole month"

I haven't played this series since Mario Party 3, but if it hasn't changed (and the review suggests that it hasn't) then yes, a 4-player 30-round match should last about that long.

Thatguy, that's exactly why I gave up on Mario Party games. There are always a few good mini-games in an entry, but never enough to make it a great game. Granted I haven't played them all, but I stick by Mario Party 2 as the best entry and await its Virtual Console release...unless Nintendo actually feels like going online one of these days.

Smash_BrotherJune 06, 2007

I have to throw my hat into this ring...

I'm enjoying this game. Yeah, you don't do anything when someone else is taking their turn, but guess what? MP games are built around the premise that you're playing a virtual board game. Did you play "Chutes and Ladders" or "Candyland" as a kid and complain when other players were taking their turns?

Furthermore, you need to be paying attention to what is going on, even when it's not your turn. Clever strategists know how to maneuver two other players against each other so they can profit and come out on top in the end. In fact, there's a layer of strategy to MP games which I have to believe that most people don't appreciate at all. A solid game with four players all looking to cut each other's throats can be pretty intense, but only when all players know how to work the game and how to manipulate. It's similar to a game of SSB except that it's more akin to risk than it is to a straight up action game.

So yeah, while I'm not finished with it yet, I so far love the board designs and the minigames have all worked just fine for me. Then, there's the unlockable minigames which you can play with your Miis which are a lot of fun.

The biggest downside is the 30 FPS graphics. What the HELL is up with that?

NinGurl69 *hugglesJune 06, 2007

I played a couple boards last weekend.

So far I'd say the experience has been smoother than last 2 party games, mainly in the control department. The fact that there's less games involving mundane running/jumping mechanics is a good start, and focusing on the pointing and tilting functions feels good, especially after everyone easily understands the minigame controls thanks to the included demo animations.

Soda bottles ftw

Yanking carrots ftw

Faster board running ftw

The shortcomings I ran into were mostly technical and presention: 30fps board vs. 60fps minigames (wtf), slowdown during special effects on the board (wtf), and tons of slow, boring menus and interrupting text boxes.

I haven't tried the Game Arcade yet. Treetop Bingo in MP6 was alright.

thatguyJune 06, 2007

Alright, I've figured it out. They need to make a "Wario Party." Then include slightly longer games than what is in Wario Ware, and have them based on fun concepts. Imagine, a game where everyone races to get through part of a Super Mario Bros. stage. You know, stuff like that would be fun.

I figured I'd mention that I gave my copy to a family (a mom, dad, high-school girl and middle-school girl) after reviewing it. They love it. In particular, they really like the random elements of the different boards.

GoldenPhoenixJune 15, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: MegaByte
I figured I'd mention that I gave my copy to a family (a mom, dad, high-school girl and middle-school girl) after reviewing it. They love it. In particular, they really like the random elements of the different boards.


Well they are intelligent people, I personally love the game and feel it is the best MP game.

IceColdJune 16, 2007

I own at the shaking game.. They really should have come up with better minigames though.. There are quite a few fun ones, but with the remote, there's no excuse for nearly all of them not to be awesome.

Monopoly stage is pretty fun, but the Windmill one in MP7 is better.

But why the hell did they make the Minigame star based on coins again instead of wins? One battle game can undo a whole match..

Quote

Originally posted by: Smash_Brother
MP games are built around the premise that you're playing a virtual board game. Did you play "Chutes and Ladders" or "Candyland" as a kid and complain when other players were taking their turns?


Ah, but I didn't have to sit through an announcer all the time. Also, I hated those games as a kid because they're all random with no skill involved whatsoever.

GoldenPhoenixJune 17, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: MegaByte
Quote

Originally posted by: Smash_Brother
MP games are built around the premise that you're playing a virtual board game. Did you play "Chutes and Ladders" or "Candyland" as a kid and complain when other players were taking their turns?


Ah, but I didn't have to sit through an announcer all the time. Also, I hated those games as a kid because they're all random with no skill involved whatsoever.


I think the MP games have skill involved, I usually always come out 2nd or 1st (usually first) because if you dominate the mini games you have an advantage.

stedamanOctober 05, 2007

Really nice game. Its fun when with others. The sweets added to the board is a nice touch and allows for some exiting gameplay. Just like a board game alot is to do with the luck. But then most of the mini-games are about who's more skilled which is coool and I like playing them. I don't like the sheer luck minigames though...like the card battle and snipt eh wire to the bomb thing etc.

On the whole its a good game and pretty fun. I can see why your score is low...but a bit too low imo. I would give an 8.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterOctober 06, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: Smash_Brother
I'm enjoying this game. Yeah, you don't do anything when someone else is taking their turn, but guess what? MP games are built around the premise that you're playing a virtual board game. Did you play "Chutes and Ladders" or "Candyland" as a kid and complain when other players were taking their turns?


Even then, when the other players took their sweet time making their next move the other players would bitch up a storm. This happens A LOT in the Mario Party games, even more so in the newer games (I don't recall the turns taking quite a while to finish on the N64 games).

As for MP8, I had some fun playing it with S_B and friends (though those friends didn't enjoy the game at all...), in fact my dad got me a copy, and I sold it back because playing it alone was a BORE and my nephew and niece didn't get into the game AT ALL.

Its definitely time for Nintendo and Hudson to rethink their MP strategy. Make a party game that actually ENTHRALLS players, not bore and alienate them.

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Wii

Game Profile

Mario Party 8 Box Art

Genre Party/Parlor
Developer Hudson Soft
Players1 - 4
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Mario Party 8
Release May 29, 2007
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone
jpn: Mario Party 8
Release Jul 26, 2007
PublisherNintendo
RatingAll Ages
eu: Mario Party 8
Release Jun 22, 2007
PublisherNintendo
Rating3+
aus: Mario Party 8
Release Jul 19, 2007
PublisherNintendo
RatingGeneral

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