Thursday, 7 May 2015

Mario Party 10

Nintendo are seemingly untouchable. Sure, the Wii U hasn't set the world of fire like they hoped it would, but with the 3DS still in big demand and public opinion at an all-time high, the gaming public haven't lost their love of Nintendo. That's all well and good, but it becomes a problem when Nintendo  somehow become exempt from criticism because, well, they're Nintendo. No, I'm not talking about the fact that they pull video reviews from Youtube due to bullshit copyright laws. Neither am I talking about the cash cow that is the whole Amiibo situation. I'm talking about the fact that they've essentially run the Mario Party series into the ground. What started off on the Nintendo 64 as a really fun, inventive and innovative spin-off series from the Mario franchise, has now become an incredibly boring chore to slog through. A shame too, as the potential is clearly there.

 Developed by Nintendo and out now for the Wii U comes Mario Party 10, a game that, despite some updates, plays pretty much exactly like is predecessor. I remember the release of the original Mario Party in 1998. It was a revelation, and though prior to that I never really had any major love for any Nintendo characters (I was a Sega MegaDrive kid, after all), I came away from it appreciating each one quite a bit. I played a few Mario Party games over the years, and from what I have played I've seen the series degrade into merely getting by on its namesake alone. Mario Party 10 continues this trend.

The gameplay in Mario Party 10 is incredibly simple. The game plays out on a board game which supports up to 4 players. Their are multiple types of boards throughout the game, and each one has its own look, flavour and style. Like any other self respecting board game, the goal is to make it to the end first. However, in Mario Party 10 you'll also need to pick up as many coins and stars as you can on your way there. While it's all well and good rushing to the end of a board, the enjoyment and main focus of Mario Party 10 lies within the many mini-games on offer if you happen to land on a particular square on any given board. Mini-games can range in various different styles and objectives, and number up to a whopping 75 in total. This huge array of mini-games range from the likes of golfing, trying to avoid falling into lava, shooting other players in a small Bomberman-like maze, bouncing on a trampoline, memorising a list of enemies, river raft racing, collecting fruit and even volleyball, just to name a very few. Sadly though, despite the pleasantly diverse selection of types of mini-games here, some of them feel like carbon copies of each other. I'm not expecting 75 completely unique experiences, but I'd rather have 30 unique ones that 75 samey ones, personally.

Technically the only new additions to gameplay are the games use of the Wii U Gamepad, and that of the Amiibo's. During Bowser Party Mode one player assumes control of Bowser, Mario's long time adversary. Once the player catches up with someone on the board and a mini-game kicks off, the Bowser player can use the gamepad in a number of ways, mostly to trick, trip up or simply defeat the rest of the players playing on the main screen. From tilting the Gamepad in order to push columns of fire towards players to writing taunts and messages on screen, it's a fun if underused addition to the gameplay. The same goes for Mario Party 10's use of Amiibo's; the plastic Nintendo toys that sync up with your Gamepad. Players can play as their Amiibo's in the Amiibo Party Mode. It's essentially the same as the main Party Mode... but with Amiibo's, basically. The game is topped off by the always perfect presentation that Nintendo inject into their games. It's colourful, incredibly cute and, if you're someone who had a SNES and N64 back in the day, will more than likely fire up your nostalgia engines.

Overall I came away from Mario Party 10 disappointed. It's not a terrible game, as it will offer a group of 4 players a pretty fun and decent gaming session, but there's just so much wasted potential here. With its focus of new features on the Gamepad and Amiibo's- both of which are completely under used- Mario Party 10 isn't a must-buy. In fact, if you have Mario Party 8 or 9, steer clear.

Mario Party 10 wakes up hungover the next day with a 3/5.


Denis Murphy

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