Mario Party Hits

The best and worst of Mario's annual minigame antics

Thanks to its staggered - some may say relentless - release dates, every year since 1998 has been a Mario Party year somewhere in the world. Some years have even been multi-Party years, and while few of the many hundreds of minigames that comprise Nintendo%26rsquo;s critically maligned - yet hugely successful - series have been particularly memorable, the age of the Mario Party has rarely been dull.

Minigame Island

The very first N64 version included the Minigame Island mode, which was a compilation of minigames to give the multiplayer-oriented Mario Party a little value for lonely gamers. It involved traveling as far as possible across a world map, winning coins in solo games, and it was actually quite good. It has never been seen in any subsequent Mario Party.

Glove giveaway

The first Mario Party featured a handful of games that required brawny manipulation of the N64%26rsquo;s groove-topped analog stick. The easiest way to rotate the stick fast enough to complete the likes of Paddle Battle and Tug o%26rsquo; War was to jam it into the palm of the hand, which resulted in %26ldquo;cuts, punctures, blisters and friction burns%26rdquo; for some of the most enthusiastic, soft-skinned players.

Because one child had to have a tetanus injection, around 80 parents complained and Nintendo offered to supply Mario Party players with a free set of fingerless, padded gloves to avoid future problems/lawsuits. If all of the 1 million Mario Party owners had applied, the cost to Nintendo would have been $80 million, but relatively few did, making the free gloves collectors%26rsquo; items now. Nobody outside of America even registered a complaint, proving that European and Japanese gamers have tougher hands/are not so stupid.

Gang up

One of the signature features of the entire Mario Party series, and probably its finest idea, is the three-on-one minigame. Three slightly handicapped characters attempt to knock down/flatten/beat/submerge and generally tussle with a lone player who must flee, terrified, in the hope of surviving until the end and reaping a huge coin bonus. The seldom-played Mario Party 3 has a particularly good selection of them.

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