Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mario Party 6 (GCN) Retro Review

Earlier in the week I posted new screens and a new trailer for the upcoming Mario Party 9. In anticipation for the game I have been playing installments that were fresh to me, and seeing how they shaped up. Let's see if Mario Party 6 is a party worth celebrating.

Day or Night, This Party is Just Right

Ever since its inception on the Nintendo 64, Mario Party has been Nintendo's cash cow. That isn't to say each installment is of poor quality. It is just that some of Mario's celebrations are better than others. Mario Party 6 brings with it a wide assortment of new mini-games, microphone support, a night and day mechanic, and six original boards to party until the sun goes down. Come see why this party is one you will want to attend. Don't forget to bring a gift!

Brighton and Twila are the sun and moon spirits of the Mario Party world. They generally get along quite well like two peas in a pod. However, when both ask one another which is more stupendous, a frenetic feud begins. Mario and the gang do their best to try to calm down the two intensely rivaling spirits, but it seems nothing they attempt helps. That is until Mario brings up the idea to collect Power Stars and place them into a Star Bank to appease both spirits. Will this be enough to satisfy the sun and moon spirits and make the world of Mario Party calm once more? And with an opening storybook cutscene, the festivities begin.

After creating a data from one of three save slots, you'll be whisked away to the realm of Mario Party 6. There's a plethora of things to do in the game. From Solo Mode to the traditional Party Mode, there is no shortage of content to be had and to partake in.

Solo Mode is one of the series's best yet. It does not require you to play it for if you don't want to, but the rewards for doing so are quite beneficial to the player. Solo Mode consists of three linear boards where the goal is to land on spaces and win mini-games against the computer. Any mini-game you win goes into your personal collection, and you win a fair amount of coins, too. However, the board is only so many spaces long, and if you roll too much, you'll fall off the end of the board, losing all of the mini-games and coins you earned. Though it's a risk, the final safe space on each Solo Mode board is a rare mini-game space. You don't even have to play it to win it. It just automatically goes into your collection, and the round ends. Your total mini-games and coins collected are tallied up, and you are awarded stars to place into your Star Bank. This mode is terrific for receiving new mini-games without having to rely on luck in Party Mode to get them.

Solo Mode boards are straight and linear excursions.

Speaking of which, Party Mode returns, and this is the meat and potatoes of the Mario Party series. If you have friends, the mode is a blast, but playing it alone sort of defeats the purpose and is less enjoyable. Regardless, the aim of the game is simple-- earn coins from landing on blue spaces and winning mini-games in order to purchase stars. The player with the most stars at the conclusion of the game is the overall winner and superstar. There's a wide range of spaces to land on that can be worthwhile or costly to the player such as blue spaces (gives the person who lands on it three coins), red spaces (takes away three coins to the player who lands on it), action spaces (can make something happen on the board such as sending the player to the start of the board or worse), Reversal of Fortune spaces (think Chance Time from Mario Party 1-3), Duel spaces (two players face off in a mini-game where the winner gets either their opponent's coins or one of their stars), DK spaces (land on this space for a special beneficial mini-game), or Bowser spaces (landing on this space starts a game where the loser(s) must give either all their coins, a star, or all of their orbs to Bowser).

Avoid these spiked balls in Pit Boss, or face Bowser's fury.

Orbs are invaluable devices that can give a player a welcomed assistance over the competition or they can cause headaches to other players. Some orbs can be used on yourself like Mushrooms that allow you to roll two or more dice blocks while others can be used on spaces to trip up opponents. The Whomp orb, when used, makes the unlucky victim that passes by stop dead in their tracks, no matter how big their roll. Other orbs can steal half of a player's coins, steal an orb, make a player lose five coins for every space they move, and so forth. Some orbs are exclusive to certain boards. Castaway Bay, for instance, has an orb that protects a player from having their coins or more importantly a star stolen by Boo, a greedy apparition who would then give his stolen bounty to the player who paid for his services.

While orbs aren't an original concept to the Mario Party series (they were in the previous installment), new and exclusive to this edition of Mario Party is the concept of a day and night cycle. After three turns, day turns to night and vice versa. DK spaces pop up during the day while Bowser spaces appear at night to replace Donkey Kong. Boards can entirely transform during night and present new hazards and dangers. For example, on Towering Treetop the tree that rests at the top of the board is friendly during the day, but if you land on his space at night he drops several thorny balls that not only hurt but they take away precious coins from all players. Even mini-games change depending on the time of day.

At night, Boo is drooling at the mouth,
ready to steal coins or stars from unfortunate souls.

After all four players have rolled, landed on their spaces, and the round is over, a mini-game begins. This can be either every man (or woman) for themselves, 2vs2, 1vs3, or a Battle mini-game where all four players put a certain amount of coins into a pool. The winner wins the lion's share of the coins. One mini-game has players inputting the button or trigger shown by a Shy Guy in order to strike a golf ball. The first to ten correct inputs wins. Another has players teaming up in pairs to leap over a fiery turnstile. The team left standing (see: not burnt to ashes) is the victor. Other games have players breaking away boulders that are in the middle of a seaside road, ground-pounding the most flashing buttons in the allotted time, jumping from raft to raft before they drop over the waterfall, and stomping on moles that come out of pipes while avoiding dangerous Piranha Plants. Most games control excellently enough, but there's the occasion one that proves to be troublesome.

I thought I already did my 1080: Avalanche review...

Aside from the normal mini-games, sometimes a mic mini-game will be played. These games can be played with a controller if you so choose to, or they can be turned off altogether. The games work by having one player (the one with the microphone that comes bundled with the game) taking on three players. In Fruit Talktail (har-har), the player with the mic shouts out one of five fruits aloud. The other players must then swiftly move to the platforms that correspond to the fruit shouted as the other paltforms will fall into a bottomless pit. During Shoot Yer Mouth Off, the goal of the game is for the player holding the mic to call out numbers which correspond to an obstacle being unleashed into the arena such as Bob-Ombs and Bullet Bills to defeat the three players who must avoid each hazard until time runs out. The mic games are enjoyable enough, but some drag on for far too long. Plus the mic can confuse vocal signals. Saying "right" in one game might make the characters move to the left instead of the intended direction.

Call the right numbers out to trip up and defeat your rivals.

There are six boards total with one of them needing the player to purchase it for 100 stars. Thankfully, every player in a Party Mode game (yes, even the computer-controlled players) contributes to the Star Bank at the end of each game. This makes reaching high amounts of stars easy-peasy. Mario Party 6 introduced new rules to the boards. The first two boards, Towering Treetop and E. Gadd's Garage follow the basic template of the series. A star is semi-randomly placed on the board, and the opponents all vie to reach it to pay the twenty coins required to receive it. Then the star moves to a new location on the board. Regardless, other boards use different rules to acquire stars. For instance, on Faire Square either Brighton or Twila rest in the center of the board. During the day, stars from Brighton cost twenty coins. During the night, stars from Twila can cost anywhere from 5-40 coins. The catch is that you can buy up to five stars at once if you can afford it. On Snowflake Lake, everyone starts the game with five stars. By paying Chain-Chomps and getting lucky rolls, you can crush other players, stealing one of their stars.

Aside from Party Mode, there's the opportunity for you to play all of the mini-games you have unlocked either through Solo or Party modes. Mini-game Tour gives you the option to play any mini-game unlocked at your leisure while Battle Bridge is a race to cross a canyon through winning games. Treetop Bingo is all about being victorious in mini-games to be able to choose numbers and aim for a BINGO. Meanwhile, Decathlon Park pits four opponents in ten mini-games in a row. The player with the most points by the end of all ten games stands victorious. These modes add to the multiplayer madness of Mario Party 6, and they are great additions to an already meaty game.

Swim for your life to avoid a grim Blooper fate.

Mario Party 6 isn't the most marvelous piece of technological wonder on the GameCube. There are plenty of jaggies on characters to be found, but backgrounds and boards are full of life and the attention to detail is there. Musically, the tracks are decent enough, but they are highly forgettable apart from a theme here and there. This isn't Mario Party 1 where every track was essentially a winner. Those days are long gone.

Some mini-games have you pairing up with
what would otherwise be your rival.

If you're looking for an interesting diversion and a fun fiesta, Mario Party 6 is most definitely worth RSVPing to. The mini-games are 90% enjoyable with the other 10% being duds. That is pretty good for a Mario Party game. The boards offer new play styles and strategies to be had, and allowing the CPU's star totals to be added to your Star Bank makes you actually root for the computer to obtain stars-- even if they're your enemy! The amount of unlockables at said Star Bank will have you partying all day and even into the wee hours of the night. This is one of the better entries in the Mario Party franchise, and it is quite worthy of your hard-earned coins. Put on your party hat, bring your noisemakers, and get ready for one hearty party!

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]


Reggie White Jr. said...

The only Mario Party I've played is the first one and I loved it. Been meaning to try out the remaining games but never got around to picking them up.

Parko said...

Wow, Mario Party 6 seems pretty awesome. I missed out on 4,5 and 6, so I had no idea that there were power-up orbs, or day and night cycles. The boards have some creative rules and I think I'd really like this Mario Party game.

Great review!

SuperPhillip said...

I find a lot of the Mario Party games are better than the first for the sole reason that the games don't tear up your palm or thumb.


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