It has taken just fourteen years for Nintendo’s Mario Party
series to reach its ninth instalment, but it has long been viewed as one of the purest and most enjoyable local multiplayer experiences available on any system. With the Wii now coming to the end of its life, it has been begging for another title to help keep it relevant long enough to see the transition across to the Wii U
later on this year. Unfortunately, for all the good work that developers Nd Cube Co.
have done here, the novelty of Mario Party is finally starting to wear thin for us.
If you’re not familiar with how Mario Party
games work, then you need to think of them as the video gaming equivalent to a crowd participation board games. You’ll roll the virtual dice to progress your character around a board littered with stars, bonuses and challenges. The ultimate aim is to have the most stars when you reach the finish line. It’s a formula that has served the series well in the past, but with so many mini-games based titles available these days, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for anyone, even Nintendo
’s moustachioed mascot, to stand out from the crowd.
It’s certainly not for a want of trying though, Mario Party 9 boasts a huge roster of mini-games for players to get to grips with, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous and, like other games in the series, the level of enjoyment to be garnered from your play time will be directly proportional to how many other real people are involved and how excitable they are.
In truth, with the right group of players, Mario Party 9
is a hell of a party experience. It’s certainly not a game that’s to be taken seriously, so it demands a group of players who are willing to go that extra mile when it comes to involvement. Trash talk, while not necessarily something Nintendo would want to be associated with as a family friendly company, will increase your enjoyment exponentially, a will dirty tricks like a well timed cushion to the WiiMote of a hapless opponent – it’s all part and parcel of the fun here.
With a total of 12 selectable characters, two of which need to be unlocked, as well as more than 80 different mini-games
, there’s certainly plenty to see and do here – the only problem is that you’ll have seen and done most of it before; if not in other Mario Party titles then in other similar games across the various systems.
The biggest issue we have with the game is the fact that, despite offering all this content, it’s an utterly useless single-player experience. Without other people in the room, it’s easily one of the dullest, most uneventful games on the market right now. While it might be fun to practice on the events, they’re all so short lived and lacking in depth that the fun dissipates rather quickly. This is something that could surely have been remedied with the inclusion of online multiplayer, but given Nintendo’s apparent inability to get that side of any of their consoles right to date, it’s a feature that’s unsurprisingly absent.
On the bright side, the game looks fantastic for a Wii
title, and even if it suffers with the same problems as many Wii games when it comes to pixilation, it’s definitely one of the better looking titles on the system thanks to the series’ trademark visual style and bright, vivid colours. The sound is no slouch either, with plenty of nice pieces to get your toe tapping.
When played in a group as intended, Mario Party 9 certainly has plenty to offer. Even if you’re a series stalwart it’s difficult to tire of the fun to be had with others here, but the same could be said of any of the previous Mario Party
titles – raising the question as to why exactly there was a need for yet another one in such a short time frame. Unfortunately unless you live with a group of likeminded individuals, be they family or roommates, there’s really just not enough new here to warrant the outlay. Had it offered online play then it might have been a different story, but that wasn’t to be.
If you don’t have any party games of its ilk, and are looking for something to entertain the guests when they call around, it’s definitely worth investigating, but unless you know you’re going to have another three people around you whenever you feel the need to boot it up, it’s likely going to do very little other than gather dust. Perhaps it’s time to stick this one on the backburner for a while.