Mario Party 8 and Mario Party DS Retrospective

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.

I was pretty surprised to see all the positivity surrounding Mario Party 8 when our initial post for the Countdown to Mario Party 10 began. Many of you said this was your first Mario Party game and some of you even said it was your favorite! It’s a bit of a shock considering Mario Party 8 is my least favorite game in the series.

Mario Party 8 is clearly a GameCube developed title. The game was released on the Wii, after breaking the usual Winter release schedule and getting a delay, but many of the design choices and other little details show the original plan for the game, and this ultimately hurt the game. The most obvious of these signs is the ugly border that accompanies anyone who tries to play the game in widescreen. The GameCube didn’t support widescreen, and as a result, Mario Party 8 was built with this in mind. Mario Party 8 was not the only game to get this treatment. Super Paper Mario and Donkey Kong: Barrel Blast (then called Donkey Kong: Bongo Blast) were also GameCube titles moved to the Wii.

Then you have the fact that many of the minigames feel like the Wii Remote was forced into the control scheme. Not only were they forced, but they also resulted in a lackluster or even broken experience (looking at you Flip the Chimp). Minigames that didn’t use motion functionality were relegated to the D-pad, and it’s clear that these minigames would be a lot more innovative if they simply used some kind of control stick.

With all that said, there are still good things to find in the game, and it’s by all means playable. Although you have atrocious boards like Bowser’s Warped Orbit and Goomba’s Booty Boardwalk, you also get unique and interesting boards like DK’s Treetop Temple and Koopa’s Tycoon Town. Mario Party 8 probably has the worst bunch of minigames in the entire series, but it does have a few that stand out, including Mosh-Pit Playroom, Specter Inspector, Rotation Station, and Cut from the Team.

Mario Party 8 also gets a lot of good credit for trying to mix things up instead of following the same pattern as Mario Party 6 and 7. The visuals and graphics of Mario Party 8 take on a more realistic look, although this doesn’t work as well as the more cartoony feel of the past games. The Candy system may be a bit unfair at times, but the transformations and the various effects are still impressive. The is the first Mario Party game to have all the character stats in the top right corner of the screen instead of in each corner. Most minigames feature some kind of unique or interesting animation and scene after the minigame ends, and the results screen appears in the minigame itself. Every board has unique space designs that match the theme of the board. A lot of firsts for this game.

Only a few months after the release of Mario Party 8 came the release of Mario Party DS. This was the first handheld game since Mario Party Advance, and once again the game was focused with the single player aspect as the main component of the game. Thankfully, this time it turned out to be a more traditional and very much enjoyable experience.

Mario Party DS retains what makes the rest of the Mario Party series so great. It has four players running across interesting boards with different objectives like Toadette’s Music Room and Bowser’s Pinball Machine, all while playing a variety of creative minigames. Unlike Mario Party 8, the minigames in Mario Party DS properly use many of the functionalities of the DS. And they’re fun! And not broken. A few favorites include Rail Riders, Camera Shy, Soap Surfers, Rubber Ducky Rodeo, Star Catchers and a ton more. We also got retro minigames! Five puzzle minigames from past Mario Party tiles reappear in the game!

What makes the single player aspect of Mario Party DS one of the best in the entire series is the rewards and the points system that makes it so easy to get sucked into. Mario Party Points are handed out for doing just about anything, especially when playing through the Story Mode. These points will automatically unlock specific figurines at certain levels giving players a incentive to collect them all. Not only that, but the rest of the hundred or so figurines and badges are earned by completing achievements and different objectives. It requires you to play each match differently or with a new goal in mind. It’s a shame this system has not returned in any future installments.

And with that, we are done with the Hudson developed Mario Party games. While Mario Party 8 was their weakest effort, Mario Party DS was a strong addition to the series and wonderful way to end off Hudson’s run of the series.

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