Once again the folks at Nintendo and Hudson have managed to gently pat that formidable bottom of the minigame barrel - but without all together scraping it. Mario Party returns, finally on the system it was meant for. If you ever cared for the Party series, then there's no reason the newest entry won't bowl you over. There are over 70 minigames crammed into the disc, and hey, a handful of them you can even play with your Miis. To keep the fanatics playing, you'll earn Carnival Cards that can be used towards unlocking a slew of items beyond just minigames. (All of which we chronicle in our ridiculously comprehensive guide.)
And it should be said that Mario Party has taken to the Wii like a prostitute to cocaine. Aiming with a cumbersome thumbstick has been done away with and guiding the cursor with the Wii Remote feels like a godsend. Plus the tilt sensing adds a whole new dimension to play. (Sadly, there's only one game that requires the Nunchuk attachment. And it's a flag waving good one too.) From buying property and thrashing opponents for their Stars, the new and distinct boards deliver a little more strategy than what you'd expect from a pick-up-and-play title.
It's all too easy to say the franchise has gotten stale, but you'd have to overlook the very foundation Mario Party was built on. Taking dozens of tired gaming formulas and boiling them to their thirty second essence is what has always made the Party series the best at what it does. It's all very much what we've come to expect from the series, but that's as long as you've come to terms with what not to expect. If you're anticipating an innovative game that rewards you on skill, well, then this may not be the shindig for you.