Mario Party 8ESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Developer – Hudson
Publisher - Nintendo
Nintendo has released their 8th version of the long running Mario Party series, but this time it makes its first appearance on the Wii. With the innovative control schemes made possible with the Wii Remote I had lofty expectations for this game. However, after some extended playtime with the game I believe my expectations were too high, as this game does not live up to the hope I gave it.
I was somewhat disappointed by the overall visual presentation of Mario Party 8. The colours are definitely solid and manage to jump off the screen, but the rest of the visuals seem to be way too GameCube like. I know that many critics of the machine love to indicate how it is only about 2x the power of the original GameCube, but at the GameCube presented some great looking games the Wii is capable of such feats too. I found that the aliasing was an issue and I couldn’t help but notice a lot of jaggies along the edges of characters and on-screen items. And for some strange reason the game really isn’t widescreen as the edges of the 16x9 areas are filled up with tacky looking borders. I had really hoped that by making the jump to the Wii that Mario Party 8 would also make some strides in the visual department. However this latest version is not so and I really hope that by the time the ninth version hits the visuals manage to step it up a notch.
The audio department is another area that disappointed me. The music is ok, and is best described at very carnival or marching band like. It manages to match the visual themes of the game, but overall it just doesn’t seem to have that Nintendo quality I have really become accustomed too. As for the rest of the sound effects, they manage to get their job done, but only barely. They are uninspiring and quite average to say the least. I honestly don’t know if they got lazy or just didn’t feel any creative flow, but overall Hudson did not do nearly as good as a job as I hoped.
This latest version of Mario Party makes the trip to the Star Carnival. This road show is run by the duo of MC Ballyhoo and his talking top hat Big Top. Yes, you heard me right, a talking top hat. The gameplay is standard Mario Party, playing out like a board game with four players smacking the dice block to move about the spaces, collecting as many coins and stars as possible before they finish a set number of turns and of course there is the tradition of playing minigames at the end of each round. I guess if it’s not broken why fix it and Mario Party 8 seems to follow that belief.
After going through the game a couple of times it became somewhat evident to me that Mario Party 8 seems a little lighter in the number of minigames then Mario Party 7, which I had the chance to play. Also noted is that does not support eight players like Mario Party 7. Ok, so it doesn’t have the same amount of games or player support as the version before, but what it does have is good use of the Wii Remote. You will find yourself swinging at baseballs, shaking soda, rowing a boat and even walking a tightrope, all using the innovative Wii Remote. And for you Nintendoholics out there, there are even games that reference past Nintendo games on previous consoles. All in all I was happy with the support that was implemented using the Wii Remote’s capabilities.
Hudson made sure to mix up the kinds of play too. While there are four player free-for-alls, there are also quite a few one-on-one, two-on-two and even one-on-three player games to keep everyone happy. And as the Wii is meant to cater to everyone from the diehard gamer, to the non or casual gamer, the minigames themselves are not terribly complicated and anyone can get into them. There is even a practice option for the minigame of choice should anyone find themselves having trouble grasping the mechanics of such.
There are a total of six uniquely themed boards to play on. From Super Mario Sunshine to a haunted mansion, most of the themes are quite recognizable. Each board is innovatively designed too with boards having several paths and interesting routes to take. But, as with past Mario Party games your movements are left up to chance. Many pundits will speak that board games are games of chance and how the roll of the dice fairs into the overall gameplay. Mario Party is no different as your fate really lies in what number you roll. I can’t count how many times I would roll an unlucky number and my fate was changed in a heartbeat. It was not overly frustrating per se, but it really did show me how much this game relies on luck, not strategic planning. Oh well, I guess the pundits may be right on this one, as Mario Party wants to be a board game with minigames thrown in, then the game has to rely on luck.
Overall I had fun with the game, specifically in the multiplayer modes. It was great to see everyone from fellow reviewers to family members waiving the Wii Remote around in order to reign superior. However I did find that some of the minigames became monotonous after a few tries, but this did not really ruin the enjoyment of the game for me.
Overall Mario Party 8 is mixed bag of experiences. With average graphics and average sound the game is remotely saved by some really innovative and entertaining implementation of the Wii Remote’s abilities. Overall the final tally gives this latest iteration of the long running series a positive enough score that it warrants at least a look at from all gamers who own a Wii.