The theory of games and their effect on society is a debate that to this day has yet to cease. Certainly there are games that should be questionable purchases for the younger demographic. Titles such as GTA Vice City, BMX XXX, and Die Hard Vendetta should not be in the hands of children and that is why we have the ESRB rating board. Most parents look at this as a scapegoat for the gaming companies to lay blame on them and developers are concerned parents don’t pay enough attention to the ratings when making a choice for their children’s games. Honestly it’s a catch twenty-two and personally I find it hilarious because the most violence I ever see when playing games is in the form of competition. This brings me to the issue, or should I say review, at hand. Mario Party is back in it’s fourth installment and it’s first appearance on our beloved Gamecubes. Does it bring back memories of twirling your analog stick and smashing buttons to overcome your foes, or yet another franchise running out of steam?
If you have enjoyed the Party series in the past then you can certainly expect a repeat visually. Sure the little touches differentiate it from it’s N64 counterpart such as reflections, higher resolution, and more polys on screen, but the overall look has not changed a bit. Watching Mario Party on screen is like enjoying the history of Nintendo rolled up into a fun little board game chock full of colors and recognizable characters. Seeing Mario, Luigi, Toad, and of course Yoshi dash across the screen reaching for the next star is something that will still fill our hearts with joy when we reach the gray ages of gaming. Simply put this game has a style all it’s own and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I have always felt that the MP series could benefit from more spoken dialogue, of course Mario was never the outspoken type, but other characters have used many lines of dialogue before and being able to hear them would have added so much more personality to this game. The music however is a mixed bag, some classic tunes that derive from deep within the Nintendo archives are apparent, but some of the new tunes are so downright annoying they convey a sense of agony when playing. Luckily I can turn off the music and replace it with the soft sounds of Slipknot while thrashing my rivals in a compelling mini-game! The sound effects are marvelous and what little speech that is present truly sets the mood for some classic Mario Party action. Overall the sound is acceptable.
This is where my biggest fear lies for this treasured series. Sure it’s simple to pick up, hard to put down style attracts players at first, but after four outings does the game offer enough to keep regulars and aficionados coming back for more? Honestly no, the game lacks seriously in the mini-game department. Many of the fun filled memories I have of playing Mario Party came from the originality that poured from the first two incarnations. MP4 seems to lack in this category leaving it feel a little stale from time to time. The mini-games while fun at first tend to get old and not so fun after two to three times of play. Certainly this does not account for those new to the series, but veterans such as myself were hoping for a lot more ingenuity.
Bottom line is, if you are new to the series i.e. you have never played a MP game before you will absolutely love this title. It still remains king in the seemingly overcrowded genre. For those that have been trained to it’s greatness the newest offering does little to redefine what made the game so special and leaves you wanting more when the day is done. In the end I recommend picking this up if you have lost or sold all of your old MP games or have never given the genre a go, truly the best of it’s kind MP shines again. Recommended.