In anticipation of the release of Mario Party 10 on March 20, Mario Party Legacy is taking a look back at the Mario Party series to recount all the good and bad that has come in the last 16 years. You can see our schedule and vote in our polls here.
The original Mario Party was released on the Nintendo 64 all the way back in 1999 (’98 in Japan), and the lead up to the game was unlike what we would see for any of the future installments in the series. For what must be the first and last time in the series, Nintendo fans had no idea what was coming their way. It wasn’t easy trying to figure out what Mario Party was about. Even the title didn’t make it clear, unlike other games like Mario Kart and Mario Golf.
As it turned out, and as many of us know so well, Mario Party ended up being a video game version of a board game, along with several minigames within the main game itself. Move around a board trying to collect as many Stars as you can before the game ends, all while collecting coins in mingames after every full turn. The game was a blast to play, but it came with its own set of problems.
Mario Party is, as anyone would guess, based a lot on luck. A roll of the die determines your next turn of events, so it’s expected that a lot of things will simply not go your way. As future entries in the series show, a good mix of luck and skill makes for wonderful experiences, but the original Mario Party spilled a little too much over into the luck category. Events on the different board maps had not only ridiculous outcomes, but pricey ones too. In Peach’s Birthday Cake for example, one player will always end up heading for the Bowser Cake, an area that will cost you 20 coins at a minimum. Mario’s Rainbow Castle features a good number of happening spaces that will instantly change the Star to a Ztar, an item that will cost you 40 coins. Being able to change the events of the game so radically and so rapidly is certainly an issue.
And then there are the minigames. First things first, three of the minigames would give players massive blisters are trying to rotate the control stick as fast as humanly possible with the palm of their hands. People had to wear gloves if they ever wanted to get anywhere with these three minigames. With that said, Mario Party did feature a number of strong minigames. Just to name a few, you had Platform Peril, Mushroom Mix-Up, Key-pa-Way, Running of the Bulb, and plenty more.
It was clear that the original Mario Party was a success. It’s sequel, Mario Party 2, was released just a year later. The game took everything that was wrong with Mario Party and improved on nearly every aspect. The boards were fair, the minigames were even better (and no gloves required!), the modes were much more interesting, and the overall game was so much more creative and unique.
There’s little to complain over the boards in Mario Party 2. You have classics like Western Land and Pirate Land, as well as the day and night changing board known as Horror Land. Although the game only had six boards compared to the original Mario Party’s eight boards, each one was designed in such a way that made this fact nothing more than trivia. Items were also a big factor into changing the gameplay of the boards. Mushrooms gave you extra dice blocks, the Boo Bell brought Boo right to your space, and the Magic Lamp took you right to the star.
The minigames were also another great factor for the game. While many returned from the original Mario Party, the new batch of minigames proved that the team behind the games had plenty of new and innovative ideas left to explore. Games like Toad in the Box, Bumper Balls, Honeycomb Havoc, Move to the Music, Shock Drop or Roll, and plenty more all showcased just how fun the series can be.
The original Mario Party and Mario Party 2 had their share of ups and downs, but it’s hard to deny that you’ll have a good time when getting together with your friends and starting up a round of either game. Both games paved the way for many more Mario Party games to come, both the good and the bad.