A few neat Wii U ideas can’t save this lackluster party.
It’s been three years since the last Mario Party game came out on a home console and in that time, not much has changed in the venerable franchise. If anything, Mario Party 10 is just a disappointing follow-up to the series-changing Mario Party 9. While the Wii U’s first Mario Party entry is fun at times, it’s fleeting and often feels half baked. Minimal content and repetitive gameplay ultimately make this party a short, unmemorable one.
Mario Party 10 is split into three distinct yet similar multiplayer modes. Disappointingly, there is no unique solo mode present, though each mode can be played by one player. The main mode is simply called Mario Party and features the same gameplay introduced in Mario Party 9. All four players hop in a vehicle and move around the board together. Players alternate as “captain” where they take control of the vehicle and roll the die, but the game isn’t divided into turns anymore. Instead, the four players have to work together to defeat a mini-boss and a final boss on a linear board as they compete to earn the most Mini-Stars. The biggest bummer in the returning mode is that it features less content than Mario Party 9. Instead of seven boards, there are only five. Each one is still entertaining, but cutting out more than 25% of the boards makes them that much more repetitive.
One of the new additions is Bowser Party, which is likely the best mode in the entire package as it takes advantage of the GamePad in some interesting ways. It’s a five-player mode, with four players playing as normal and a fifth controlling Bowser using the GamePad. On each turn, the four players try their damndest to get away from Bowser, while the perennial villain rolls four die to try to catch them. If he does, a one-versus-four mini-game ensues. The asymmetric multiplayer is interesting, but a lot of the Bowser mini-games, and Bowser Party in general, is hilariously unbalanced. For the majority of the mini-games, Bowser’s only competition is the player not understanding how to use the GamePad correctly. It’s still fun, but considering Bowser Party ends when Bowser successfully defeats the four players, it can end very quickly with a few bad rolls and some awful mini-game luck. Bowser Party has the potential to be something far more engaging, but it is severely undercooked, especially considering it only uses three boards, all of which are from the Mario Party mode.
The final mode is Amiibo Party, which is locked behind each player owning one of nine specific Amiibo. This is similar to old-school Mario Party, in that it’s more rigidly turn-based and involves gaining coins to buy stars. Like Bowser Party, Amiibo Party is a kernel of an idea that just doesn’t seem to be that refined. It’s like old-school Mario Party in all of the worst ways, as the board is just a simple square and each turn feels like it takes forever. While playing, you need to pass the GamePad around to each player so they can roll using their Amiibo, which slows down the gameplay even more. There are flashes of brilliance layered in here, especially with the tokens that each Amiibo can obtain that give them game-changing bonuses, but it just falls flat. The best part about it is that when you roll the die, you have a chance of knocking down the in-game Amiibo figurines.
Aside from these three main modes, Mario Party 10 features a few bonus games and modes, including an interesting puzzle game and mini-game tournaments. Like the main modes, all of these games don’t feel like they are fully fleshed out. Getting four people together to play a simple round of badminton is fun once or twice, but nothing in here is worth spending a lot of time on. The mini-games in this entry aren’t marginally better or worse than recent games, though there is a good balance of motion-controlled and traditional-controlled mini-games present in the title.
It’s frustrating, because Mario Party 10 has a lot going for it. The visuals look very nice in HD. The music is great, especially with the character-specific flourishes in Amiibo Party. Each mode has their share of fun ideas, but none of them feel that substantial. If you’re looking for a Mario Party game to play, you’re likely better off trying to find Mario Party 9, as that 2012 release features more boards and mini-games than Mario Party 10. The Wii U debut of the series is a big disappointment, with little reason to throw too many celebratory Mario parties to play it.