Before we begin, a few select quotes from everyone’s favorite source of opinionated fanjerks, GameFAQs:
“Let’s all still party like its 1999!”
“We’ve done it all before, and it has been done before better.”
“If Mario asks you to come to a party, TURN THE OTHER WAY AND RUN!”
“Quest 64 is one of the most underrated games of all time.”
OK so that last one doesn’t entirely fit, but my point is this: Man guys, lighten up! Sometimes I think the Internet enjoys being negative a little too much.
Mario Party 7 is the latest in the Mario Party saga…though it seems we’re about due for a new one any time now, doesn’t it? It’s been, what, six months since this one came out, right? It expands upon its predecessors in ways that are difficult to imagine, mostly because they don’t exist. If you’re into the Mario Party series, you’ve pretty much gotta adopt the attitude of only buying every third title or so, because otherwise you’re just burning your money down a toilet.
That said, there’s still no reason to be such Negative Nokis about Mario Party. They’re not bad games—they’re just a little repetitive.
Like in every other installment of this Shiggy-forsaken series, you and three of your closest friends (or two, or your only friend) run around a board game-inspired arena, rolling die, landing on vari-colored spaces, playing minigames and purchasing stars with the coins earned from winning minigames. The person with the most stars at the end of the game, generally speaking, wins, though you can set the game to award bonus stars at the end, too, which generally results in a win for whoever rolled the most twos.
Since, chances are, none of you have played a Mario Party since MP3, you’ll be delighted to know there’s a little more to it these days. There’s one board that’s just what I described above, but there’s also seven other boards, each with it’s own, totally unique setup. Like the one where, instead of stars, you’re buying windmills that contain stars. Or the one where, instead of buying stars, you’re buying treasure chests that might possibly contain stars. Or the one where you have to climb a mountain before you can purchase a star. The developers are at least trying for diversity here, which means that, unlike before, each board actually produces a unique game.
Many (if not all) of MP7’s minigames are brand-spankin’ new, if by “brand-spankin'” you mean “well, for the most part.” There’s only so many themes you can go with, after all, though I’ve got a feeling you’ll all breathe a sigh of relief as I say the “Press A a Whole Freaking Lot of Times” games are all but gone. Few of the minigames will (especially literally) blow your minds, but that’s par for the Mario Party course. Several minigames make use of the GameCube microphone, which comes packaged with new copies of MP7; however, there’s nothing as fun as the microphone-enabled quiz game from MP6, which, incidentally, is absolutely the only thing I remember about MP6.
There’s even something for the friendless gamer, as there are single-player modes-a-plenty in MP7. One mode has you going one-on-one with a computer player, playing through all the multiplayer games as though you’re playing a real game of MP7, except for one thing— the minigames are GONE. YES, it’s Mario Party without the minigames — and I say, it’s about darned time. It at least makes the game go a lot faster. You can also play the minigames individually, and there’s a frickin’ 8-player mode, for those of us who actually know seven other people who want to play Mario Party.
The unlockables of MP7 are a joke. Example: Annoy Mode, in which you can taunt other players when it’s not your turn. This feature set me back a few thousand points (which were from the game’s main mode), despite the fact that it was a regular, non-unlockable feature in past games. And it only gets worse from there. For just 500 points you can purchase “souvenirs” of…I don’t even know what, which you can put on your virtual shelf and look at. Kudos to the creative team on that one.
But then again, if the unlockables were anything great I’d be whining about how they should’ve been available from the get-go. Maybe unlockables are just a bad idea.
The AI of MP7, once again, as with every single freaking one of its predecessors, is a dirty, rotten, no good stinkin’ cheater. In the board where you buy chests that may or may not have stars, theirs ALWAYS have stars. They ALWAYS win the chance minigames. They ALWAYS land on the good spaces—they NEVER land on a Bowser space, and if they do, Bowser doesn’t do anything to them. Speaking of Bowser, though, in MP7, every five turns Bowser shows up and does something really incredibly obnoxious, like taking 40 of everyone’s coins.
But that’s what makes this series so accessible, isn’t it? So much of it is based on chance that anyone can win, making Mario Party one of the best series for playing with non-gaming friends. (Of course, losing by the whim of a few 0’s and 1’s is a tad frustrating to those of us who know our joysticks from our joy sticks.)
And, truth be told, this is probably the best Mario Party title out there. The developers have finally weeded out the literally painful games (I’ve still got scars from the first Mario Party), they’ve added a few new characters (including DRY BONES~!), there’s tons of single-player gunk to muck about with, and it really is a blast to play this game with your friends. If you’re a hater, MP7 isn’t gonna change your mind; but if you’ve never played one before, or if you’re a fan who hasn’t bought any new Mario Parties in a while, check this one out. If you’ve already got MP4, 5 or 6, though, wait and see what Nintendo’s got cooked up for the WIIIIIIIIIII before you make any major purchasing decisions.