Mario Party: Island Tour comes with 81 new minigames and 7 new stages. But not really. In this review, we’ll take a look at a game that for whatever reason, we missed when it came out. It was released November 22 of last year, but the busy Christmas schedule meant we missed it! But never fear, our take on it is here.
That’s as excited as I’m going to get, as unfortunately Nd Cube has taken over for Hudson Soft on Mario Party duties… and the first one has some major issues. They’re also developing the upcoming Mario Party 10 for Wii U, which is in part why we decided to go back and take a closer look at their first effort.
Playing a Mario Party title has always required a sense of humor. You need to accept the fact that at the end of the game, the person in last place might be awarded a star for having the least number of stars. Is that worth rewarding? I’ve never really thought so. You also need to be able to laugh at some of the mini-games, as there are always a few stinkers tossed into the mix. You have to be able to roll your eyes when you only last a couple seconds in a game, or when it seems like the randomness of everything is working against you. However, in previous games, you haven’t necessarily needed to have a sense of humor with the control schemes, points system and majority of mini-games. There has always been some fun to be had, but I fear this entry is lacking in the fun department.
There are some welcome changes, like the ranking of individual stages by luck, approximate time and skill. There is a ‘Bowser’s Tower’ mode that is geared to single-player, which is absolutely necessary because of the complete lack of online play once again. You’re now split up again instead of being in a car together ala Mario Party 9. However, there are far too many negatives to outweigh the positives.
In said Bowser’s Tower mode, there is no way to set the difficulty. Veterans of the series know how horrendous the AI generally is in the mini-games, and this really sucks any challenge or fun out of the mode. At the heart of it, Mario Party is always about getting some friends together, but if you’re going to try and give more options you need to get that feeling as much as possible.
The ‘new’ mini-games will largely feel very familiar, involving the classic ‘hit the button a lot’ games, the ‘don’t get knocked off this’ games and others that you’ll feel right at home with, but also a bit bored by. The gyroscope games, which could have been a welcome addition, more often than not devolve into cursing at the controls, or setting down your 3DS to calibrate while the game continues on without you. Needless to say, this detracts from the experience. However, it is nice to be able to decide to turn off microphone games for noisy locations such as conventions, or because those games are again largely not very fun.
Oddly enough, some staples of the series such as coins and stars are absent. The boards are more about a race to the end, which just doesn’t feel very ‘Mario Party’. The boards are visually appealing and have some fun elements to them, but it doesn’t do nearly enough to make up for the mini-games that simply aren’t enjoyable to struggle with. The more traditional stylus and button games can have some fun moments when you’re playing with others, but all too often it felt like you were playing a game you’d already spent years with.
The single-cartridge download play is thankfully still available, a mode that was used many times on Mario Party DS by our crew on flights or in lines at PAX. Oddly enough though, we didn’t really feel like playing more. Our entire group had been waiting impatiently for a 3DS update to a game we’d been playing together for 7 years. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be it.
Want to know what our review scores mean? Read about it here.