Mario Party 6 is a title that'll more thank likely be walked past in a bid to see the latest sports or first person sequel, but alongside the many milked franchises, Mario's board gaming antics have made the majority somewhat bored. Taking this feedback onboard, along with various mushrooms and a thinking cap, game designers spoke up and introduced a vocal theme to Hudson's latest, and potentially adventurous party title yet. Mario Party may be a franchise that's growing ever stale but still has a successful formula as part of its roots. Does the sixth iteration take Mario further?
With each story that's been told, Mario and friends have always been central to a problem that coincidentally can only be solved through the art of star collecting, and what better way than to call a party. Instead of a table of mushrooms, cake and booze, the occupants of the kingdom enjoy a spot of board and mini gaming in unique, imaginary worlds. The plot leading towards the latest party initially seems tacky and very much fairytale however does well in drawing the game's key change. The Sun and Moon: Brighton and Twila have struck a blow and unfortunately have caused a rupture in day and night. After a quick discussion and some mind numbing decisions, the gang decides to collect starts to end the feud, that or offer Peach as an object of nightly perversions. Popular friends return alongside Mario, including Daisy, Toad, Mini-Bowser and Boo among the traditional selection to offer some extra choice for those with Nintendo fixations.
The basis of Mario Party is a simple yet enjoyable concept. Players select a character from Mario's friends and enemies list and venture around, in turns, collecting the most stars in exchange for coins, overcome obstacles to be crowned the Party Star. A title that shouldn't be taken lightly for, as with previous parties, all four players engage in various mini games and events to gain the upperhand. The general rules of play haven't changed, and without any reason to. Players choose the board, number of turns played, types of mini games along with any computer-controlled foes to play along side.
Traditionally in Mario Party, after a certain number of turns or when a player would step on various spaces, different changes to the board would occur that might cause players to rethink their strategies. That said, the journey around a board would seem very much linear and possibly predictable albeit some change depending on chance. To add to this day and night switch after three turns, incorporating the hosts for each board, Brighton and Twila (who clearly seem to be on a form of drug for they don't appear to argue at any point). Whilst the thought of colour changes may seem like a nice graphical effect, which it is, it also causes a number of board settings to switch and move. These are mainly route switching, warping moved to different areas of a board, paths being blocked off, rates for stars varying among unique scenarios for each of the available boards. Whilst the different levels in past versions have had only subtle changes and hadn't had much to comment upon before, Hudson have incorporated more unique features into the later environments to introduce a harder challenge for experienced party goers. Tedious, yes, but enjoyable more so including Snowflake Lake where players have the chance to use a Chain chomp around the board to steal stars or in a unique twist where the star space moves about during the day, but becomes Bowser at night. Whilst these additions are unique in giving each board a specific reason to play, after a short period of time having one set scenario per board encourages each to grow stale and sometimes pointless.
Overall, Gameplay since the first two iterations on the Nintendo 64, hasn't changed dramatically only to incorporate, or more so tack on a new feature or two to try and maintain the series' freshness and appeal. Aside from adding speech features, Mario Party 6 however falls short of breaking any significant gameplay developments but has come quite some way in enhancing and refining integral gameplay features. Items, now known as Orbs, can be obtained by passing the non-space in various locations around a board or by purchasing items from a selection of three within a store. Orbs can be used on oneself, adding more dice rolls or temporary invincibility for example, or over a space to be walked or landed on. Again, space orbs can be thrown to any in the surrounding area to gain a key advantage over other players. Whilst this doesn't have any major changes, the element of random items and the increased selection poses unique strategy, especially with unique events occurring during the varying day and night scenarios.
The game boards do play a more major role and seem more like a world to journey around as opposed to a flat decorated surface that certainly lightens the mood of taking turns which eventually does become somewhat boring. Visually, there is some high level of detail where it seems the level has been constructed with possibly the largest areas in a title to date. In particular water, ice and earth textures are very sublime for a Mario title. Improvements come in the board textures, movement and particle animation throughout, with an increased sense of speed and movement throughout the board. Although the character animation is smoother and faster than previously the board progression still is lacking in what should be a faster paced game. Computer players still make silly and tiresome decisions, though some of the dialogue has been removed to speed up the waiting game. After all the board bonanza, players engage in friendly minigames to test their button and control skills.
Mini games, along with being played after each player has taken their go, are no incorporated at different stages. Duel games, a new space, allow players to complete head on with another player bidding for coins or a star; loser take all. Donkey Kong also makes his appearance on boards where players collect bananas in a unique set of mini games where each is worth a certain number of coins. As default, not all games are unlocked, most gradually become available as each board is played and some of which are hidden in a unique solo player mode but perhaps aren't worth getting. The wealth of games available follow the same methods in past parties, character movement, button bashing, matching, fighting or collecting. Mario Party 6 doesn't do much unfortunately to expand upon the basic games available, with only several being truly enjoyable to play repeatedly. There are different categories available
Aside from the main boards and mini games, there isn't much else to experience in Mario Party 6 aside from several unique and possibly more enjoyable microphone and tournament games available. These allow for quick, easy means of play without having to endure long board sessions and still have the thrill of outwitting opponents in familiar and simple minigames.
Perhaps overscored, though well deserved. Though the game has its considerable setbacks in terms of progressing from past iterations, it certainly has experimented with several unique means of play. The mirophone use is fairly good, if not a little gimmicky.
Colourful, attractive graphics throughout the title with the traditional Nintendo flavour and style. Highly detailed game boards with uniquely crafted and dynamic animation. Certainly an improvement over the other two GameCube versions.
Standard Mario Party music, some fairly catch tunes though a lot can become very irritating after hearing the same selection over and over. A mixture or varied tempo could be an interesting touch, that or perhaps changing the tone to suit the mini game genres better.
Easy to get into, and quick to come back to but unfortunately can become too old too fast it seems. Mini games are worth replaying in a quick session, but when with friends definitely a multiplayer to try out - but for those who have played time and time again, maybe not a game that'll be used long term.
Overall not much has been expanded upon since previous Mario Party adventures though the inclusion of several additional features and refinement of others certainly helps to expand upon the series' traditional gameplay and maybe an indication of where future Mario Party titles are heading. The inclusion of microphone and varying board scenarios are perhaps a little experimental and almost gimmicky but regardless are a nice extra for an ageing franchise. Hopefully Hudson will build upon these changes, and the single player aspect, in the next Mario Party instalment.
Till then party goers.
Doesn't look like I'll be picking this game up after all :-(. Oh well, I think MP4 is enough for me this gen.
Meh, I hated MP5 so I probably won't buy this. Nice review though Jorge :
How many games use the mic?
LOL! No, sorry, I meant how many minigames use the mic in this game and anyone know the amount in Mario Party 7.
I want a game that gets my voice heard. :
< Edited by Galvanizer On 2005/6/8 22:21 >
This one...and...erm...no others YET.
Nice review, i was thinking of getting it, but maybe when it goes down.
I've never played any of the Mario Party games, nor do they interest me. Also, the looks of the microphone disturb me a great deal...
Nice review though!