Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mario Party 8 (Wii) Review

Today is the release date of the much anticipated Mario and Sonic at the Winter Olympics. While Mario and Sonic are having a party in Vancouver, let's revisit one of Mario's solo outings with Mario Party 8 for the Wii.

It's his party, and you'll buy if you want to.

Seven past console parties down and Mario still feels need to party like its 1999 with a few variations here and there. Mario Party 8 is the series' first foray on the Wii and most likely will not be the last. The Star Carnival has pitched its tent in the Mushroom Kingdom. With it, the carnival brings six new boards, over seventy new minigames, and fourteen characters (two of which being unlockable). But the question is-- does it matter?

Well, to put it simply, yes and no. The main modes you'll be cycling through are the Party Tent and Star Battle modes. The Party Tent is your standard Mario Party fare for up to 4 players (CPU or real life buddies). You'll most likely wish to play with friends as the CPU seems to always get the breaks. Nonetheless, the flow of gameplay is relatively simple. You hit the dice by punching the Wii remote forward, rolling any number from 1-10 (and if you're like me you'll usually hit a 1), moving the numbered amount of spaces, and landing on a space. Blue spaces give you coins, red spaces take away a small amount of coins, green spaces are event spaces which trigger a happening on a board (such as a Magikoopa changing the layout of the board in Shyguy's Perplex Express), Lucky Spaces give whoever lands on them a very nice bonus, Bowser Spaces cause the king of the koopas himself to cause havoc to the player or the board, and DK Spaces calls upon DK to lend a hand to players. At the end of each round-- comprised of one turn by each player-- a minigame roulette appears. These games are either a free-for-all, 2 vs 2, or 1 vs 3. It all depends on the space colors everyone has landed on. Your aim of this mode is to collect enough coins to purchase stars. The player with the most stars at the end of all of the rounds is crowned the Superstar.

Luigi says he's going to strut-- just strut.

To mix things up even further is the additional of candy. Candy is used for a variety of measures. Twice and thrice candy allows the player to hit two and three dice blocks respectively. Slowgo candy summons a slower moving dice block that allows you to move 1-5 spaces. Springo candy allows the player to hop to another player's position randomly by way of a dart throw. Cashzap candy shocks your opponent in losing half of his or her coins. Vampire candy steals anywhere from 5-30 coins from each opponent. There's a number of additional candy that offers other services or disservices to the player. Additionally, at the end of every game if selected players will be awarded bonus stars. There are three given out which range from who collected the most coins in mini-games to who consumed the most delectable candy. Carbs are apparently a worry of the past in the Mushroom Kingdom.

Boards are varied each featuring a different locale and goal. DK's Treetop Temple is the most traditional board needing players to purchase stars at random locations of the board for 20 coins each, Goomba's Booty Boardwalk requires players to move across the lengthy tropical boardwalk to reach a goomba for a star, King Boo's Haunted Hideaway is a mystical mansion where those who come across King Boo will be able to buy a star from him, Shyguy's Perplex Express is a fast-paced locomotive where those who reach Shyguy in the engine room can get a star, and finally, Koopa's Tycoon Town is where players delve into the world of Monopoly-- buying up vacant and owned hotels to receive the most stars. There's one more map which can be unlocked in Star Battle mode.

In Koopa's Tycoon Town, players into the realm of real estate,
buying the most hotels that they possibly can to earn stars.

Meanwhile, speaking of Star Battle mode, Star Battle is a one on one battle with a CPU opponent on six different boards. Each board has a specific challenge for you to accomplish such as in DK's Treetop Temple where the first player to receive two stars before the other player wins and moves onto the next board. There are no minigames in between rounds. You'll only play Dual Minigames which are one vs. one games where the winner wins a random amount of coins from the other player or Challenge Minigames which are for one-player only. Playing Star Battle is sometimes easier than winning Party Tent mode because you only have one other player to worry about instead of three.

Regarding minigames, there's a huge variety of games to play-- over seventy. Most will have you holding the Wii remote like an NES controller while others will have you pointing at the screen to move your character. The best ones use the Wii remote in fun ways such as lassoing barrels in Blazing Lassos or beating the rocks out of a Bowser statue in Punch-a-bunch. Games like Cut from the Team, however, only further cause annoyance as the lucky will win in already luck-heavy Mario Party 8.

Boo-ting Gallery has you and your teammate blast
pink boos as you infiltrate this spooky mansion.

To round out the package there's the Extra Zone where you can take your Mii and play Mario Party versions of Wii bowling as well as puzzle games with other players or denizens of the Mushroom Kingdom. These aren't too exciting, and there's really not much to these games. Lastly, the Fun Bazaar is where you can spend Carnival Tickets earned by playing the Party Tent and Star Battle modes for buying minigames and figurines. This is apparently how Mario Party 8 encourages replay value as most items are 30 tickets and you only earn 20 per 10 round game.

Ultimately there's not too much of a change between this and past Mario games. I personally skipped out on Mario Parties 5-7 as the formula had just run dry. The Wii remote games are fun, but the main game is still way too heavily luck-based which will probably make skilled players become easily frustrated. The CPU seems to always catch breaks while you catch a nice dice roll of 1s. If you're going to play alone, save yourself the trouble and pick up another game. If you have another to play with, however, I encourage you to at least rent this game to try it out. If you're satisfied with the package, then pick it up and party down.

[SuperPhillip Says: 6.5/10]

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