Nov 21, 2007
Unless you haven’t had access to electricity for the last ten years, you’ll probably know all about Mario Party, which is one of the most successful and most often imitated casual game series. It has had its ups and downs over the course of at least nine sequels, some of which are barely distinguishable from one another beyond the title screens, but it’s never less than popular - explicably or otherwise.
The format, for all but the poor GBA version, is exactly the same. Four players take turns rolling dice and traveling from space to space on a mazelike game board. After everyone has had a go, it’s time for a minigame; which will involve teams of two, a three-on-one fight or a free-for-all. The prize is a bagful of coins, which can be used to buy special items that will spoil the other players’ chances. The ultimate aim is to collect stars - there’s one on the board at all times, and only players who land on its space get the privilege of buying it. Once somebody has a certain number of stars or you’ve played for a certain number of turns, a winner is declared, and the minigames you played get added to a stand-alone minigame mode that you can play at any time, without the game board.
And that’s that. Minigames were fairly unusual when the original Mario Party came out, but they’ve long since become standard features on an enormous variety of titles. We’re so familiar with those bite-size snippets of character-based fun that they’ve become easy to take for granted. So Mario Party DS needs to do something pretty special to grab attention.