I’m fairly certain that I’ve only played a Mario Party game exactly one time in my life. It was at a friend’s house and, if I remember correctly, it was a rented copy from either Blockbuster or Hollywood video. Ya’ know, back when those places still existed. It seems like a gazillion years ago and the memory is beyond hazy, so I was excited to dive into Mario Party 10 and find out what I’ve been missing out on all these years. From what I can tell, I didn’t really miss out on much.
Like previous entries in the series, Mario Party 10 is a multiplayer board game with minigames thrown in. Players advance through the board using dice rolls, but unlike traditional board games, everyone moves together in a shared vehicle as opposed to moving separately. Along the way, stars will be rewarded, and sometimes taken away. The player who has the most stars at the end of the game wins.
One of MP10‘s biggest downfalls is how it can feel so completely random, yet also appear as if it has a personal vendetta against the players at every possible turn. While there’s no way of knowing for sure, I’m pretty sure this game is a goddamn dirty cheater. A player in dead last will suddenly be awarded extra pity stars during the home stretch and wind up coming out in first place. A player in the lead will have half of their stars taken within the last few rounds so that they have no time to recover. If ever there is a moment in the game when you don’t want something to happen, chances are, the dice will land on the number that makes that thing happen. There’s absolutely no room for strategy, so you may as well just accept whatever fate the Nintendo gods have in store for you and enjoy the ride along the way.
Since Mario Party 10 is controlled using Wii Remotes, many of the minigames utilize motion controls. You’ll flick your Wiimotes to jump over bad guys in racing games, use them as guns in arcade shooters, point out hiding Goombas, flip cards over in matching games, and other silly motion gaming fun that will remind many players of the early Wii days. A large portion of minigames also use the Wii remote as a traditional controller either vertically or sideways like an NES controller to give your arms and wrists a break from all the wiggling. One minor beef is that there’s no option to turn motion-controlled minigames off, so you won’t be able to have a single player party using just the Wii U Gamepad screen while your significant other binges on a My Fair Wedding marathon.
Nintendo has managed to pack 73 minigames onto one disc and, for the most part, they’re all fun their own right. It’s a just a huge bummer that you have to land on certain spaces on the game board in order to play them. This means it’s possible to play an entire game of Mario Party 10 without any minigames. And for all the effort Nintendo put into making minigames, there are only a total of five game boards to choose from, so things can get stale rather quickly. The board selection menu is thoughtful enough to give you a rough estimate of how long an average game might take on a particular board, but every single one says 30 minutes! It would have been nice to have some smaller boards for shorter play sessions, and maybe an extra big board or two for longer games.
Amiibo Party Mode
This is the latest game to take advantage of Nintendo’s interactive amiibo figures. Between the Mario Party 10 Amiibo Bundle and the limited Wal-Mart edition Gold Mario amiibo, it seems like Nintendo is really hoping for the amiibo experience to be a huge selling point. Sadly, Amiibo Party Mode is less of a party and more of a forced social gathering that drags on just a little bit too long.
In this mode, players are required to use their amiibo figures to play a condensed version of Mario Party – Mario Party Lite, if you will – where they navigate their own pieces along a square game board for ten turns. Whichever player has the most stars and coins at the end wins. It’s very linear and scarce, but there’s a minigame at the end of each round, so that’s a plus. However, Amiibo Party Mode’s negatives far outweigh the positives. Players are required to tap their amiibos onto the Wii U Gamepad’s NFC read for pretty much every standard board action that simply requires the push of the A button in other game modes. What could have been been a fun idea was turned into more of an inconvenience.
Amiibos can also be used for determining the look of game board in Amiibo Party Mode, unlocking special items like decorative bases for your amiibos or points that can be used to purchase unlockable content. Amiibos can also store special tokens awarded at the end of Amiibo Party games for use in future games. They’re decent inclusions, but it definitely feels like Nintendo could have done a lot more with the gimmick. It also doesn’t help that amiibos aren’t available for certain characters such as Toadette and Daisy, making them completely impossible to play as in Amiibo Party Mode.
Bowser Party Mode
This right here is the main reason to play Mario Party 10! In Bowser Party Mode (aka the Best Mode) five players compete in a four-versus-one challenge. Four players play the game as usual with Wii Remotes while the fifth player uses the Wii U Gamepad to control Bowser. Instead of trying to collect the most stars, players instead are given a number of hearts that can be lost when they take damage from Bowser and his shenanigans. Since he’s a bad guy, Bowser has an arsenal of dirty tricks up his sleeve. To start, he takes each turn rolling a handful of dice while the other players only start with one. Bowser can also do things like write graffiti on the screen to deceive players into making bad choices like choosing treasure chests filled with baddies that can hurt them or leading them astray in paths obscured by black smoke. The underwater board is definitely the most fun and watching a giant Bowser swim after players feels like watching some sort of monster movie.
Minigames in Bowser Party Mode are a blast as well. Bowser attacks his prey using fire breath, spiked pillars, giant hammers, Bullet Bills, and more using the touch screen, built-in motion accelerometer, and standard controls. The adrenaline rush as your team defeats Bowser in a minigame is beyond satisfying, but playing as the big bad boss himself feels even greater.
In addition to the customizable amiibo items that can be unlocked daily (once per amiibo), there’s a decent amount of other bonus content. There’s Toad’s Room where you can buy music tracks, vehicles for use in Mario Party Mode, two unlockable characters, an unlockable CPU difficulty, and assorted items and backgrounds for the game’s throwaway Photo Booth mode where players can snap pics of characters. Free Play Mode is exactly what it sounds like: it lets players play the minigames without suffering through a board game. Coin Challenge Mode consists of seven-rounds of minigames where coins are awarded at the end of each round and whoever has the most coins wins. Bowser Challenge lets you play all 10 Bowser minigames to try and take the highest amount of hearts from the poor little good guys. There’s even a music player that lets you listen to the game’s soundtrack and additional songs unlocked from Toad’s Shop if that’s the sort of thing you’re into.
Mario Party 10 also four standalone minigames: Bowser Jr.’s Bonk Bash, Bowser Jr.’s Clobber Cage, Badminton Bash, and my personal favorite, Jewel Drop; it reminds me of Dr. Mrio or Bejeweled, but with physics, making it one of the least strategic puzzle games I’ve ever played, but I couldn’t help but love it. Seriously, Nintendo, sell this for two bucks on the e-Shop for Wii U and 3DS and get ready to print some money.
Even with all these bonus features, it seems like a good chunk of it doesn’t doesn’t really add anything substantial to the overall Mario Party 10 experience (I’m looking at you, Toad’s Room!). I would have much more preferred a few extra game boards instead of being given a music player that I’ll never use and the option to take pictures of character models.
When I think of the term “party game” I think of something that I can invite my friends over to play until the wee hours of the morning – the kind of late-night gaming party fueled by junk food, pizza, and booze that you look forward to all week long. Mario Party 10 isn’t that type of game. It’s more of a hit it, quit it, then turn in early sort of deal. With a single game lasting an average of half an hour or more with few minigame sessions to break up the dice-rolling monotony, you’ll be coordinating excuses with your significant other to duck out of this party early. Hopefully Nintendo learns their lesson and Mario Party 11 is far better, but until then, at least we have Rock Band 4 to look forward to.
- Bowser Party Mode.
- Fun minigames and lots of 'em!
- I need more Jewel Drop in my life, pronto!
- Amiibo functionality is more inconvenient than fun.
- Too random. No room for strategy.
- Character selection is kinda' dinky.