As a great poet once wrote, there ain't no party like an S-Club party. But while the pop icons have long since consigned their paper plates and pointy hats to the same dark cupboard as their funky funky beat, spare a thought for poor Mario.
He's been throwing exactly the same party for the past six years, and even if he still has the appetite for another helping of sponge cake and jelly, we're not sure if his guests retain the same enthusiasm.
This time around, Mario's chronic case of sequelitis has spawned a mic peripheral, which you're supposed to use to bark instructions at the game. Sounds interesting - and it would be if the damned thing worked properly.
In the wider world of PCs, voice recognition is an unstable technology at the best of times, requiring multiple repetitions before stumbling on the exact combination of pronunciation and inflection the computer was listening for.
In a game, having to repeat commands is a remarkably effective way to spoil the fun for everyone. Nobody around here has managed to get it to work with 100% accuracy, and given that every other Gamecube title uses controllers, which do guarantee predictable results, this is a feeble step backwards.
The designers knew it, and have limited the mic to just a few minigames. Choose the default settings and you won't play a single mic game, exposing the big USP as just a cheap gimmick.
It's essentially still the same game as the previous versions, many of which we've rated pretty highly in the past, and it's still good fun if you've got three like-minded friends or family members to play it with. Bearing that in mind, we can't give it too much of a kicking.
Playing a simple board game and facing off against the other players for minigame battles was a great idea in 1999, and while subsequent versions have altered the balance, to varying effect, it remains a decent concept.
Pick up any one of the others, from number two onwards, and you're guaranteed an equally enjoyable experience with few major differences to distinguish it from the 2005 version.
But if you're absolutely, positively determined to pay full price for the latest edition, don't expect to impress anyone with your Gamecube's voice recognition power.
Mario Party 6 is out for Gamecube now