Friday, April 15, 2011

RE: Mario Party 8 (Wii)

RE: is a series of articles that takes a look back at an already-reviewed video game, and we reexamine it, comparing and contrasting new and old observations. It's important to note that RE: articles are not re-reviews. Far from it. Today's game is none other than the latest fiesta from Mario and friends in Mario Party 8 for the Wii.

I remember the days when Mario Party was a yearly occurrence. This was during the Gamecube days. It seemed every year a new party was being churned out on a regular basis. You had your vocal minority of complainers, of course, but that didn't stop each new rendition of Mario Party from selling millions of copies even on the last place Gamecube. The SuperPhillip clan got tired of the franchise around Mario Party 5 where we stopped playing and searched for new gaming experiences. With the new motion controls of the Wii, we decided to leap back in, headfirst, into the world of Mario Party for Mario's eighth outing.

Star Carnival was the single-player mode of Mario Party 8. It had you competing against one computer player across the game's six boards in an effort to satisfy the conditions of the board before your opponent did. By completing this mode, you unlocked Hammer Bro, and by beating the mode a second time, you unlocked Blooper to play as for a total of fourteen unique characters to party with.

Mini-games break up the monotony of rolling the die.

The Party Tent was most likely where most players spent their time. This is where a single player could compete against three AI opponents, setting their difficulties in the options menu, or take on other human opponents in local play. You could set the game from five turns all the way up to fifty turns. You chose your character, chose a board, chose extras such as whether or not players could earn bonus stars at the end of the game for completing certain objectives, and started the game. With a starting dice roll to determine the roll order of the game, you were on your way. After each player had their turn to roll, a mini-game would pop up. These could be free-for-all mini-games, two-on-two, or three-on-one depending on what spaces players landed on.

Who can ruin a good turn? The candy man can 'cause
he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good.

The mini-games in Mario Party 8 were quite fun to play. Some were as simple as shaking the Wii remote for five seconds to see whose soda would burst the highest while others were more complicated. Some had you holding the Wii remote like a punching glove to smash a statue of Bowser before your opponents could finish 'im off while others had you twisting and turning, holding the controller like an NES controller, or spinning it 'round like a top. The winner or winners of each mini-game would earn ten coins. These coins could be used to purchase candy which gave the chewer an ability for one turn and one turn only. They could steal coins from every player, bowl over any player they came in contact with, making them lose coins, siphon off half a player's coins by smashing them with Thwomp candy, and an assortment of other confectionery delights.

Punch when the glove is at its maximum density
to really pummel the statue of Bowser.

You could also use coins to get around the six boards more easily. Stars were the main attraction, and the player with the most at the end of the game won. Each board handed out stars in a different fashion. This is a quick round-up of how stars were acquired:

DK's Treetop Temple - In traditional Mario Party fashion, stars were earned by simply tracking down the character who possessed the star and paying twenty coins to get a star. The location of the character was at one of many predetermined but random locations.

Goomba's Booty Boardwalk - A long, expansive boardwalk with plenty of opportunities to skip over spaces if you paid dolphins coinage, the star was at the end of the boardwalk. All you needed to do was a make it to the end of the boardwalk to earn a free star. You would then be transported back to the start of the boardwalk to begin the journey anew.

King Boo's Haunted Hideaway - Many dead-ends and false paths littered the halls of the Haunted Hideaway. By luck did you choose the right path to the star. Other paths would be lined with traps or other unsavory treats.

Shy Guy's Perplex Express - Make it to the engine room, and you'll get a star in exchange for twenty coins. Of course, the train could change and rotate parts if a player landed on a happening space, so your journey could take longer or shorter than planned...

Koopa's Tycoon Town - It's real estate warfare in Koopa's Tycoon Town. Invest in hotels to earn stars. As players invested more coins into the hotels, the hotels would be worth more stars. Up to three stars could be earned per hotel. Whoever invested the most coins in a given hotel would own said hotel and the stars that went along with it.

Bowser's Warped Orbit - Each player began with five stars. By purchasing and coming across Bowser and Bullet Bill candy, players could steal stars from each other by running over one another. It was a board fitting of the Bowser name for sure.

Boo-ting Gallery has players shooting at Boos.
The first team to eliminate all of the Boos wins.

After the set amount of turns had ended and if the option was added, bonus stars would be awarded. This time around there were six varieties available, but only three would be awarded per game. There was one for the player who earned the most coins during mini-games, one for landing on the most red spaces and happening spaces, one for having the highest amount of coins at a given time, and more. The player with the most stars would be awarded the superstar.

On the game boards, there were an assortment of varying types of spaces to land on. Blue spaces gave players three coins while red spaces took away three coins. Happening spaces made a certain event occur depending on the board. In Koopa's Tycoon Town, a Bandit would come out and steal coins from a given hotel and give those coins to the person who landed on the happening space. Then there were lucky spaces, DK spaces, and Bowser spaces which ranked from great to horrible luck for the player who landed on them.

In Shy Guy's Perplex Express, landing on a DK space
will change the lead car to one piloted by DK who will
give the first person who reaches him a free star.

The visuals of Mario Party 8 weren't the best. It seemed clear that this was a Gamecube game that was upported to the Wii and given Wii controls. However, the graphics weren't too terrible, and they got the job done. The character voices got grating after multiple playthroughs, but besides that, the audio of the game was catchy and appropriate.

Overall, Mario Party 8 was a fiesta that everyone could enjoy. It was very much luck-based like any board game, but it did require some skill to win. It's a game that's fun to play with friends but a chore to play alone. The boards were highly varied and differed in goals and objectives, the characters were fun and familiar, and the presentation was a-okay for its day. If you're looking for a satisfying multiplayer game for you and your buds to enjoy and don't like Miis, then track down and pick up a copy of Mario Party 8 today.


What already reviewed game would you like to see get the RE: treatment? Let me know in the comments section.

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