Mario Party 5 (GameCube) Review

By James Temperton 30.12.2003

We suppose that this is a game that we should be approaching with frantic eye-rolling and sighing. It is not an unknown fact that Nintendo like to milk things for all they are worth; they just normally do it with greater subtlety then this. Mario Party 5, for those who are slow this is the fifth iteration in the series, looks to take the series somewhere new and exciting. Nintendo have failed we are sorry to report, but there is something wonderfully familiar and pure about this game, making it not just enjoyable but a fine piece of gaming pie.

Nintendo do not have a habit of making bad games. Even if the idea is stale and old and there is very little to work with you can put money on them doing something perfectly respectable with it. They did it with the latest Mario Kart and again they have done it here. The gaming masses have perhaps not got as excited about this title when compared to the recent avalanche of top-tier Nintendo titles and thus it has somewhat snuck in through the back door. Little was released, there were few press statements made and any advertising passed us by altogether.

Screenshot for Mario Party 5 on GameCube

The basic idea of Mario Party is both a well-known and simple one. Selecting a popular Nintendo character you have to go about various themed boards, playing mini-games and generally accumulating points in order to win. When you start off you decide how long the game will last, by simply selecting how many turns each player will have. You then have to go about the board collecting coins and stars. The latter are the most important as it is the player with the most stars that wins in the end with the coins being used to buy stars and other items. At the end of each game the scores are totted up to see who has the most stars. Not much has changed for Mario Party 5, but we're not complaining...for once.

Of course nobody is here for the boards, the main interest in Mario Party has always been the superb mini-games. Over the various versions the number has increased and the ideas improved. This time around there are over seventy suited for up to four players. Whilst the annoying luck based and button bashing / hand mashing mini-games are still here there are some really quite wonderful mini-games that you just want to play again and again. In the many gameplay modes you are able to pick out which mini-games you would prefer to be incorporated into the game. It all adds up to make Mario Party 5 a more refined and balanced package.

And that is very much the key word. This isn't a revolution it's a refinement, if anything it should be Mario Party v2. For starters it all looks much better. The boards are more animated and vibrant and are all themed around dreams, a factor which helps to push along the very flimsy one-player storyline. As is the case with Mario Kart and Sunshine this is a very bright and colourful game that whilst not doing anything outstanding presents the Mario world, as it should look. The music is equally suitable. Whilst it annoys the hell out of you if you sit down for a marathon all-nighter with your mates, the plinky-plonky ways of Nintendo audio are still here but perhaps lack polish.

Screenshot for Mario Party 5 on GameCube

To say that there aren't any new ideas would be a tad unfair, there is one. Where there used to be shops for you to purchase various items there are now capsules. Allow us to explain. These capsules are shot out of a machine at random; you still have to spend money to use them which is nothing too surprising, but it is what you can do with them once purchased that is rather clever. To add a bit of thinking to proceedings you are able to throw them up to ten spaces out in front of you. The point in this? Well you can catch out an opponent by giving them something rather unpleasant, or catch yourself out by giving them are rather useful item. You can walk into your own traps and an opponent could end up getting a power-up you were planning to use in a couple of moves time. If all that wasn't enough Lakitu can come down from the heavens and swap about all the capsules. The contents of the capsules ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous. There are some very evil items found inside these new Mario Party innovations, one of which can strip the leader of all of his or her accumulated stars. Then you can also get the ability to relieve opponents of some of their coins. But it can also all backfire rather badly and hinder your own progress. It all certainly makes Mario Party 5 a lot more amusing to play and thankfully is an improvement to gameplay that was at risk of becoming stale.

Screenshot for Mario Party 5 on GameCube

Apart from that fact that it has been done four times before Mario Party 5 also brings quite a few problems to the table. Admittedly most of them come from the fact that it has been done four times before there are some new ones. Nintendo have had an age to sit down and think about any problems that could occur should they do the same thing again this time around, and sadly they have done very little to amend the flaws and niggles. You still have to sit there reading reams of tedious dialogue, you still have to watch the computer take its turn, even though you couldn't really give a damn and you still have to go through the same poorly designed and laborious menu system. For a game that is meant to be all about having fun and the whole 'party' feel, Mario Party 5 does its level best to be as slow as possible. The zip and zoom that should be second nature to a game like this is sadly missing.

The one player mode is all a bit trivial and simple, but then we expected nothing else. What is here is a fine multiplayer title that still carries the flaws of previous versions whilst also bringing some new ones to the table. On a final note some of the mini-games are wonderfully in-depth. There is volleyball, ice-hockey and a whole host of other games that provide some respite from the button bashers that become tedious after time.

Screenshot for Mario Party 5 on GameCube

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

As a final thought we pose you this question: Who will buy Mario Party 5? If you have small children (or are one yourself), missed the first four games, don't like Wario Ware and have a strange obsession Mario Party then this is the game for you but for the rest of the world (and we should think that is a fair majority) there is little reason to buy this. It may be superb fun in multiplayer, but Mario Party 5 simply doesn't do enough.

Developer

Hudson

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Party

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (7 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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