Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mario Party 3 (N64) Retro Review

Last month I reviewed Mario Party 2, one of the better installments of Mario's fiesta escapades. Today I am going over the final game in the Nintendo 64 trilogy, Mario Party 3.

Three Cheers For Mario Party 3

Mario is one partying fool, and he's invited seven other Mushroom Kingdom inhabitants this time around including Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Wario, and new additions, Waluigi and Daisy (though they are only available in Party Mode). With two parties already under his belt, is this third celebration of all things Mario still fun?

Once every thousand years comes a special star, the Millennium Star. One day while Mario is relaxing in front of Peach's castle, the star comes crashing down into the ground, spoiling Mario's R&R. The raucous noise of the Millennium Star's crash landing causes the rest of the Mushroom Kingdom crew to come running to the site to see what's up. Suddenly, everyone is put inside a toy box to see who will be deemed worthy of acquiring the Millennium Star and becoming the Superstar. Once again the plot revolves around the player being the Superstar, but who plays Mario Party for the engaging plot anyway? No one, that's who.

Mario Party 3 features a single-player story mode that has party-goers up against the computer in battle royale and duel boards. The player goes through these maps, collecting stamps, and then facing off against one of the Mushroom Kingdom denizens on a duel map. The goal of duel boards is fairly simple. Each player picks a partner from a Goomba to a Bob-omb and gets a set amount of health points. As players face off against one another (and depending upon what partner is chosen), damage will be inflicted. The first player to lose all of their health is defeated. Much like there's specific boards for battle royale mode, there's specific boards for duel mode.

Chip Shot Challenge is one of the standout mini-games.

But again I ask a question: who plays Mario Party for the single-player modes? Not a lot of people, I'm sure. That's why there's Party Mode for multiple players to dive into either against friends or against AI opponents. The rules are simple: earn the most amount of stars by the conclusion of a set amount of turns (either twenty, thirty-five, or fifty), and you are the Superstar. Stars are collected by buying them from the Millennium Star (they cost twenty coins apiece), through paying fifty coins to have Boo steal one from an unsuspecting player, through landing on a hidden block space containing a star, or through Chance Time where a player hits blocks to stop a roulette dictating who gives up what (whether it be coins or stars) to who.

Coins are the currency of the Mushroom Kingdom, and they work just as well inside the Millennium Star's toy box. They're used for numerous tasks. They can be used to purchase items from Toad's shop, to buy stars, to con Boo into stealing coins (this costs five coins) or stars (this costs fifty coins), and to buy stars as already mentioned. Just landing on a blue space nets the player three coins, but the real payout comes from mini-games that occur after every player has had their turn. Depending on the spaces players have landed on, a different type of mini-game will be played. For instance, if three players land on blue spaces and one lands on red, the person who landed on red will be in a 1vs3 mini-game. If everyone rests on blue, then a four player free-for-all game will be played. The winner gets ten coins added to their total. Landing on a battle mini-game has everyone putting a set amount of coinage into a pot. The winner takes the majority of the money, and the runner-up gets dibs on the rest. Additionally, there's duel mini-games where two players face off. One player sets up the wager, and the winner takes all.

Free-for-all mini-games are every man
(or woman) for themselves.

There's a wide selection of mini-games-- over seventy completely new games to play. After each turn (a turn is defined by all four opponents rolling the die), a mini-game roulette determines what mini-game will be played. They come in the variety of four player, 2vs.2, and 1vs.3. One game called Chip Shot Challenge has players taking turns chipping a golf ball as close to the hole as possible. The closest to the hole wins. Another game entitled Awful Tower is a vertical test of jumping and precision along floating blocks. This is all the while dodging the hammers thrown by Hammer Bros. The first player to the top of the tower gets ten coins. Meanwhile, Eye Sore has everyone spinning around Mr. I a la Super Mario 64 in an attempt to be the first to make the enemy dizzy and defeat it. Other mini-games have otherwise opponents working together to achieve a common goal like drawing a circle around a stamp to ensnare it, or participating in a relay race. Unlike Mario Party 2, the controls in some of these games feel clunky, clumsy, and stiff. It's unlike a Mario game to have controls that don't function up to quality standards, but then I'm reminded that Hudson Soft developed this game.

Walk under the storm cloud to water your
Piranha Plant in this battle mini-game.

From going unlike Mario Party 2 to something like Mario Party 2, items make their return. Many items are a throwback to Mario Party 3's predecessor including the Mushroom, Golden Mushroom, Skeleton Key, Plunder Chest, Magic Lamp, and Boo Bell. New items include the Koopa Card that allows a player to automatically withdraw all of the coins from a bank without needing to land on the bank space itself, the Cellular Phone that grants a player the ability to have access to Toad's item shop without being forced to be near it, and the Grab Bag which automatically gives the owner as many items as he or she can carry (up to three maximum). Items can not only be purchased via Toad, but they can be earned by landing on the Toad space, answering a simple question or playing a special Item mini-game. Mario Party 2 had board-specific Item mini-games. This isn't the case with Mario Party 3. A roulette pops up randomly choosing a game to play.

Time your swing just right to hit the item you so desire.

There are six boards in total in the Party Mode of Mario Party 3. They range from frigid fjords where the frozen over lake in the center of the map will crack if two players stand on it at the same time to a mirage-filled desert full of fake Millennium Stars. New to this particular installment are action times where pressing or pounding on a button at a particular time will effect where the player moves. Along with the old spaces from Mario Party 2 (blue, red, question, Bowser, chance time, battle, bank, and item), there's the Game Guy space in which the person who lands on the space will be forced to bet all of their coins in a double or nothing game of chance.

Mario Party 3 isn't a sight to behold. The visuals aren't bewildering or jaw-dropping. They function for what the game is trying to accomplish, and you really can't ask for anything more. The framerate is consistent at the very least. The music is particularly perky as one would expect for a party atmosphere, and the voice work is pleasant and non-grating thankfully. Overall, the party package is pretty pleasing.

Be the first to grab that piece of
poultry to win this duel game.

Mario Party 3 suffers from some control issues as well as being much more to do with one's luck than their skill. Yes, there's still bonus stars to be had from doing well in mini-games, collecting the most coins at a given period of time, and landing on the most question mark spaces, but the abundance of times that the computer will somehow catch all the breaks is still present. Much more so than in past Mario Party games. The story mode is merely there, and doesn't do much in the way of making for an entertaining time. If you must attend one party of Mario, make it the second installment. Not to say Mario's third fiesta is shabby or anything. It's just inferior to entry number two which is a shame as there was a lot going for Mario Party 3.

[SuperPhillip Says: 7.25/10]

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