Developer: Hudson Soft
Like every other year over the past 6 years Mario decides to hold yet another Party. In fact it was a year ago when I sent in a submission review to the 411games section that would eventually move over to insidepulse, so this more than just a review but an anniversary for me. Yeah I know you don’t care, let’s move on. (Editor’s Note: I care Matt… Happy Anniversary! *thumbs up, smile with teeth showing*) Mario Party is back, but now facing more competition than ever with successful party games like WarioWare or XX/XY Feel The Magic, is it still champion in the minigame world?
If you bought Mario Party 6 for an intriguing story you will likely be disappointed. But who the hell buys a Mario Party game for its story? It’s a video board game, that would be like sitting around and debating about the finer points of the plot in Scrabble. There is somewhat of a story to be found, apparently the Sun and the Moon were arguing over whose was better and it lead to some harsh words being spoken about one of their momma’s or someone sleeping with the others wife. I think. Basically just a set up for the day and night cycle that effects the board and games.
As far as modes go there are a couple of different ones:
Party Mode- The meat and bones of Mario Party. Here you play with other people or against computer controlled opponents on one of six themed boards. Like every other Party the goal on each board is to gain as many stars and coins through whatever means possible, with coins being used to purchase Stars and items.
Single Player Mode- One of the biggest changes is that the single player mode has been completely refined. You used to face computer opponent on the boards available in the Party Mode, this time there are boards that are only available in single player, these boards are slightly different in that they are linear with an ending point. These boards are mainly used as a quick way to gather stars and unlock mini-games to use in the Mini-Game Mode. There are also 4 Rare Mini-Game that you can unlock that are always located on the last space of these boards. Go past them and you loose all of the mini-games and stars that you’ve collected. Land on the space and you get the stars and games plus the rare game, and you can also quit the game at anytime to save the stars and games, but you’ll miss out on the mini-game. MUCH MUCH better than the slow and boring single player of the past games. While it’s not good enough to buy the game if you plan on only playing alone, it at least is playable.
Mini-Game Mode- Play any of the mini-games you’ve unlocked outside of the board game structure. You can play each one individually or play through a couple with a few options on how to play, like tournament style.
Mic Mode- A whole mode centered around the microphone that is included with the purchase of the game. In this mode you can play any of the mic mini-games (about 5 in all) at any time or one of the other modes. One of the modes is a jeopardy style game where you choose a category and try and answer a question. If you fail someone else can take the question. The other mode is a sidescrolling mode where you use the mic to move the character. The voice recognition is pretty good for this. Not always spot-on but if you speak clearly it works well.
Star Bank- Unlock items, boards and more with Stars you’ve earned from the other modes. More on this later.
Overall less gameplay modes than what Mario Party 5 had, but some of the modes in number 5 weren’t that great. The modes in number 6 are more improved even if the improvements aren’t that much, like how the single player mode doesn’t suck this time around. The Mic Mode is mostly a gimmick than a revolution in the game, but it’s a fun gimmick so who cares?
The graphics haven’t been improved over the last game but they still do a good job. Every thing is done in bright colors in a cartoonish fashion, the character models all look good though almost all of them were recycled from Mario Party 5, and each board has a distinct theme to it that have small animated details like snowmen popping out of the ground on the ice board.
While not much of an improvement as far as graphics go, Mario Party 6 as a board game looks great.
There isn’t much in the way of sound here. There’s some unobtrusive and lighthearted background music that doesn’t make you want to mute the TV or that you’ll catch yourself humming to. There’s also some assorted sound effects but again nothing I’d say was great or annoying, which is an improvement over Mario Party 5 at least. The only annoying sound effect is the character specific taunts, but they’re meant to be annoying so that’s okay.
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 75 mini-games, I’m impressed that not one of the mini-games I’ve played had control issues. The mini-games seem to have made a switch to include more platforming style games and more games have the option to screw with an opponent or a teammate.
This is the hardest area to question because either Mario Party is overbalanced or completely unbalanced. The game requires about 30% skill and 70% luck and chance in order to win. I guess it depends on how you’re looking at it. For a video game, there’s no balance. You could win EVERY mini-game and still lose. But as far as board games go, they’re almost always chance. Battleship? You yell out different letters and number and hope you hit something, even if you develop a strategy it is still mostly luck. That’s Mario Party in a nutshell.
There are a couple of difficulty levels for the computer AI opponents including Very Hard and Brutal. For the first couple difficulty levels the computer is like any kid on a short bus, retarded. When you are against the computer this isn’t so bad, but for any where you might end up teamed up with the computer it’s a frustrating pain in the ass. For the Very Hard and Brutal difficulties the computer will pull its head out of its ass, at least part of the way, and will put up a fight. Still it is best to play with other people than get stuck with any computer opponents.
Mario Party 6 also seems to have combined ideas from the last two Mario Party games. In number 4 you could buy items that would effect your character in the game. In number 5 you were given orbs that you could pay to use on yourself or use them to change a space on the board. This Mario Party combines both. You can buy orbs at the Orb Hut on the board or you will be given a random one when you pass an Orb Space. They are free to use on yourself, or can be used to change a space. When changing a space on the board there is two different types of Orb to choose from, one that will permanently change the space and any who land directly on it will have to face whatever you placed on that spot, or there are booby trap Orbs that will disappear once triggered, but affect anyone who even passes that space. This actually adds some strategy to how you use the orbs. Plus the game encourages that you use Orbs by awarding Stars to whoever used the most during the game.
The boards are better laid out in this game. The goal remains the same, but some of the boards add extra stipulations. Like one board stars everyone off with the same amount of Stars, the only way to gain any more is to steal them off of each other. Then there are the Day/Night transitions. Every three turns the game goes from Day to Night or vice versa. When it does things change on the board, different routes either open up or close and some options will change. Like on one board Stars can cost a different amount to purchase at night than during the day. While mostly aesthetic it keeps the game moving and after you get used to it you’ll be planning your turn around whether it’s Day or Night.
There is a ton of stuff to unlock. Everytime you play the Party or Single Player Modes you will get stars you can use in the Star Bank. The Star Bank contains extra boards, game modes, secrets, and more for the unlocking. It will take some time to be able to unlock just all of the extra content. Then there are the mini-games. 75 in all it will take several times to ply through the single player or party modes in order to get them all.
It’s a sequel of a board game. There have been a lot of improvements made to the overall game, and the addition of the microphone if fun but a lot of these additions are just frosting on the cake, none of them make any big changes to the gameplay, but they do make the game feel fresh.
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.
I haven’t seen much in the way of marketing, and other than people who are already fans of the series or people who will buy anything with the Mario name on it, this game will not appeal to the majority of gamers. When people want to sit down and play a board game they don’t think of firing up the Gamecube. Still the mic peripheral might draw some curious people in.
In addition to all that you can unlock there are also the Rare Games. Unlike the other mini-games the Rare Games are more like the additional modes from Mario Party 5. The last game had Ice Hockey, this game has Basketball. There’s also a single player puzzle game that’s fun. There are also some secrets to unlock to use with the microphone. Not as much additional content as the last game, but all of it is good stuff.