Inside Pulse 12

Review: Mario Party 5 (Nintendo Gamecube)

Mario Party 5
Genre: Party Game
Platform: Gamecube
Rating: Everyone
Publisher: Nintendo
Release: November 2003

In 1998 Nintendo formed a partnership with developer Hudson games. The first of the games released under this new partnership was a completely new style of Mario Game and that game was the first Mario Party in 1999. Since then a new Mario Party has been released within a year, not something normally seen outside of sports titles.

This last year brought us the recently released Mario Party 5. The game undergoes a few changes from the previous titles but the core remains the same. The game essentially is a board game with Nintendo characters. Everyone takes a turn to roll the dice then move about a fully 3D game board. After everyone has a turn, all the players battle it out in one of many mini-games with the goal to purchase Stars that are located throughout the game board. You purchase the Stars with coins that you win though mini-games or from landing on certain board spaces. Whoever has the most Stars at the end of the game wins, with bonus Stars given to players who won the most mini-games; whoever collected the most coins, and whoever landed on the most happening’ spaces on the board.

Where Mario Party differs from the prior Mario Party is in the usage of items. In Mario Party 4 you had to buy items from a shop, in Mario Party 5, you are given these items for free from one of the vending machines on the board. Now you can spend money to either use the item, or to change a space on the board for free. The changed space will now have the same effect on the player who lands on the space as the item would have. For example if you have an item that changes the Star location and put it on a space on the board, who ever lands there will cause the location of the Star to change.

Another change to the game, Donkey Kong is no longer playable. Which I thought sucked because I always chose him, but now there are more playable characters such as Toad, and Boo (you flesh puppets). Donkey Kong makes his appearance through DK spaces on the board, which if you land on gets you coins or a Star. There are also more modes to play such as an additional Hockey and Volleyball game, and more which I’ll go over in the Misc. section.

Story:

Bowser is at it again! This time he’s trying to turn all dreams into nightmares. For some reason you’re supposed to stop him by playing on different dream-themed gaming boards against some koopa-kids in order to stop his plans. No I don’t get it either. Beating the Koopa-kids is done by taking all of their coins away. This is done by landing, or passing a space that a koopa-kid is on in order to play a duel game with him.

As far as stories goes, this ain’t Shakespeare, but what were you expecting, it’s a board game. Points for effort into trying to make the single player mode a little more playable.

2/10

Graphics

All of the characters are represented by detailed 3D models that do each character justice. The boards each have themes to them which are done very well with some little details placed throughout, such as fish swimming around the water level. Everything is very brightly colored and done in a cartoonish graphical style. The menus are clear and easy to understand.

7/10

Sound

The background music is the usual catchy and lighthearted stuff that we’re used to in Mario games. But some of the sound effects are downright annoying. The vending machines for the items make this Bleep-Blopity-Bloop noise that just grates on my nerves. All the characters have specific vocal taunts to yell out during other player turns, and each one is irritating enough to drive you nuts. You want to make sure your friends never play Mario Party again? Choose Toad and keep doing his gravely Yeah!’ taunt over and over again. All of the other sound effects are jingles, beeps and grunts.

4/10

Control

One of the best parts of this game is that just about anyone can pick up a controller and play the game. One the main board A and B control just about everything that you do. The mini-games are also very intuitive and generally don’t require more than two buttons to be pushed. Considering that there are over 70 mini-games, I’m impressed that not one of the mini-games I’ve played had control issues. Extra games like Ice Hockey feels a little lose but easy to compensate for, and the Volleyball’s controls are great. The Battle Mode where you create a robot vehicle doesn’t control that well, but is functional.

9/10

Replayability

If you do not have anyone else to play with, then there really isn’t that much replayability. This game is meant for multiple people playing it. With friends, this game has near endless replay value in just the main party mode. With extras like the Duel mode, the Mini-game mode, Ice Hockey, Volleyball, and the Card Party mode, you’ll find plenty of stuff for you and your friends to play with. Again though, if you’ve got no one to play with but are still interested in this game, rent it first because alone this game gets old in a hurry.

6/10

Originality

When the first Mario Party came out it was an original concept. Now that we’re in the 5th titles of the series, the concept isn’t as original as it once was. The addition of being able to change spaces on the board is a nice spin on the basic formula.

3/10

Addictiveness

Again, much of this depends on if you have people willing to play with you. If you do not play this game with someone else, you’re not going to be addicted. Playing with friends is an addictive experience however, and you’ll want to go through all of the modes with them to see what the whole game has to offer and to beat each other in the mini-games.

5/10

Appeal

What fans of Mario the game may lure in might be cautious to play a video board game. To see how appealing the game is, compare the sales of Mario Kart: Double Dash to Mario Party 5. Really though, the game lacks any appeal for the single gamer, and not many people may be interested in a playing a video board game that can go for a couple hours. When people think of board games, they generally don’t think of firing up the video game console

3/10

Balance

I can tell if this game is either ultra balanced or has no balance at all. When I said about anybody being able to pick up a controller and play the game, that goes for balance as well. You could be playing with someone who has played video games all their life, and someone who has just picked up a controller and they’ll be evenly matched. Much of this game is based on random outcomes. Hell, one mini-games instructions say The results are all random’ and that’s for a duel mini-game.

There is some strategy involved, but much less than the previous title. Especially now that in the last 5 rounds you can go from having one Star on the board to having 5 Stars, or every space to cause something to happen to your character.

Some gamers might see this as a disadvantage to getting the game, because no matter what your skill level you can still schooled by just about anybody, I like this factor. Some of the people I play with don’t play video games, or at least as actively as I do, and it evens out the gaming field for anyone to win. During the first two games I played with friends I was dead last. If you are highly competitive, this game may not be for you. I like how this game revolves around having fun over winning. Since I’m confused about it either being highly balanced or completely unbalance, I’m not going to put a score for this part.

–/10

Miscellaneous

There is a lot of extra content in this game. Besides the Story Mode, and the Party Mode, you can play all the mini-games you’ve unlocked separately in the Mini-Game Mode. In this mode there are several different ways to play the mini-games:
-Free Play, choose any mini-game and play.
-Battle, 4 players in randomly decided mini-games in a tournament setting.
-Circuit, in which whoever wins a mini-game hits a dice and moves forward, whoever reaches the finish first wins.
-Decathlon, 10 mini-games where all the players try to score points. Whoever has the most wins.
-Wars, a game show style mini-game played on a hexagonal field. Capture the most hexagons to win, and you can change the colors of other player’s hexagons by placing one of your color on either side of theirs.
-Tournament, Dual only 1vs1 mini-games played in a tourney.

Then there is Super Dual Mode where points from mini-games that you’ve won can be used to buy pieces and make a battle machine. Then you can take your custom battle machine and play in either a competition, or one of three battle mode, 1vs1 battle, Capture the Flag, or Robo-Rabbit Shoot. In that one you try to be the first to shoot a rabbit shaped robot. Silly rabbit.

Card Party. This one is a board game with no mini-games at all. You start on a square board with card turned faced down. You roll a dice and land on a card to turn it over. The other side has branching paths that you can choose to go down. Like the Party Mode, it’s a race to get the Stars. Really hard to explain.

Ice Hockey- its 2vs2 Ice Hockey! It’s not a hockey sim by any means, but it’s really fun. Each different pair of characters has different team names, so you’ll go through them all just finding out what they are.

Volleyball- 2vs2 Volleyball. Also a lot of fun, and very easy to play.

10/10
Story: 2/10
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 4/10
Control: 9/10
Replayability: 6/10
Originality: 3/10
Addictivness: 5/10
Appeal: 3/10
Balance: –/10
Misc: 10/10
Overall Score: 5/10