# of Players: 1-4
N Amer - 05/29/2007
Intl - 06/22/2007
Mario Party 8 Review
“Mario, Mario! Wherefore art thou Mario?”
“He’s climbing a tree!”
“A tree? Is there a star at the top?”
“Well actually, yes. But this isn’t his typical adventure. He’s not fighting Bowser and his Goomba minions for stars – he’s fighting his brother, his princess, and a crazy big-mouthed creature named Birdo!”
“Sounds like a party. Can I come?”
“No Zelda, you can’t. This is Mario’s party, and only certain ‘friends’ have been invited.”
It’s hard to believe that the Mario Party series has been around for nearly 10 years. We’re already playing its eighth chapter – that’s unheard of outside of sports games and Dynasty Warriors. The successful formula that made the first Party a hit is exactly what’s powering the game today: several short and easy mini-games that four people can play simultaneously.
That alone builds anticipation for each sequel. The inclusion of the Wii remote has doubled expectations, causing gamers to wonder what the Big N could have developed for a game that is now motion sensitive.
The addition of Wii technology has given Mario Party 8 several new types of mini-game competitions, many of which include a familiar Mario element from recent adventures (Mario 64, Mario Sunshine, etc.). When the over-sized Chain Chomp is in a bind, it’s plumber and friends to the rescue. He doesn’t have hands, so you can imagine the difficulty he’d have in trying to paint his house – splotches of red, green, yellow and blue are everywhere. As one of the four participants in a game of clean-the-Chain-Chomp, you must use a cloth and rub the paint off. This is done by shaking the remote repeatedly until each spot is clean. The first person to clean the Chain Chomp wins.
Not too exciting? Then the Mario Party series clearly isn’t your thing. It has been like this from the beginning, and it seems unlikely that Nintendo will change this formula (which is still very popular) anytime soon. But if you like what you hear, stick around – there’s more Wii remote action ahead.
Players will also whack moles with their Wii remotes, touch highlighted panels, shake vigorously to make a soda can burst, and ram into opponents riding specialized vehicles. Players will tilt their remotes to snatch coins in the mini-game Grabbin’ Gold. Settle It In Court is Mario Party’s take on basketball – simply thrust the remote downward to throw the ball. Breakneck Building, a title that sounds a little too much like that Oscar-nominated flick about cowboys, tests your ability to cut wood by using your remote as a saw. Wing and a Scare is a teeny hint at last year’s popular tech demo, Wii Airplane. You tilt the remote sideways to align the plane with the shapes of various structures. The plane will be stopped if the alignment is incorrect, giving your opponent a chance to get ahead.
Eyeball is a mini-game nod to the single-eye monster from Mario 64. The goal is to circle your remote around the eye until it disappears, just like in Mario’s 64-bit adventure. Rowed to Victory is a two-on-two mini-game where each team rows a boat and each player controls a paddle. Paddle in-synch with your partner to reach the goal before your opponents. Cake lovers can decorate desserts in Sugar Rush, while train lovers can deter their favorite engines from crashing into balloons in Loco Motives.
Extra! Extra! Read All About It!
Dozens of other mini-games are included, but one of the more amusing features is the Extras Zone. Containing eight mini-games that are not available in any other part of the game, the Extras Zone offers new play styles while re-making recent Nintendo classics. Wii Sports Bowling, a launch title favorite, is reborn as Star Carnival Bowling. It’s a mini-game, so there aren’t as many options as offered in Wii Sports. But you do get to play as the Mario Party characters.
Trial by Tiles is an excellent (and very short) puzzle game where you have to locate the shown tile formations. Each tile features a Mario Party character, and each puzzle has a different requirement. For example, the first is just two tiles long, and asks you to locate Mario and Boo. That’s easy – there aren’t many tiles, and both characters are clearly visible. Then they add a third tile (one on top, two on the bottom) and change the first two characters. The tiles change shape and/or grow in numbers with each win. But like any fun mini-game, you’ll crave more and more – and finish it off very quickly.
Canyon Cruiser is a weak take on F-Zero. There are a couple of games like this in Mario Party 8, but none of them work well. The tilt function (which steers the vehicle) is overly simplified to match the rest of the game’s simplicity. For someone like me who wants exact precision, it makes steering very tough. I had to steer poorly to do well, if that makes any sense.
Flagging Rights (Simon Says), Table Menace (tennis), Puzzle Pillars, Chomping Frenzy, and Moped Mayhem are also available. The latter four have to be purchased using Carnival Cards, which are gained just by playing mini-games. Carnival Cards are cashed in at the Fun Bazaar, where you will also find small figurines of numerous Nintendo items and characters. Their purpose: to go on display on an in-game wagon.
“Uhh, their purpose?”
Yeah, I know. They don’t really have one. But how can I judge this – I collect Mario trinkets in the real world. Who’s to say there aren’t gamers who enjoy collecting virtual trinkets as well?
Review Scoring Details for Mario Party 8
Wave, shake, point, thrust, whack! Mario Party 8 is here with more mini-games than its predecessors could muster. The controls are generally solid, almost always responsive, and are easy enough for anyone – game player or not – to learn. The mini-games are fun, but in single-player mode, the board game elements are horrendously slow and tiring. It’s just not fun waiting for computer opponents to take their turns. You will want to play solo for the goodies (it’s the only way to unlock all of the mini-games). But afterwards, stick to the multiplayer content – that’s what this game was made for.
Solid, fully-rendered character favorites roam through board game lands inspired by Nintendo’s leading franchises (Mario, Donkey Kong, etc.).
Nothing particularly noteworthy for a Mario game. More quirky and zany than the epic score of Mario 64, or the retro tracks of Mario Sunshine and Smash Bros.
Mario Party is a game that’s made not only for gamers, but also for people who rarely play video games. This could be the first game you’ve ever played and it still wouldn’t seem like much of a challenge.
Mario Party 8’s mini-games, no matter how well they (most) perform, are not anywhere near the creative quality of WarioWare: Smooth Moves. Having said that, this game offers a solid bunch of motion-specific trials that any Mario Party fan will surely enjoy.
Now that the Wii remote shortage is over, there’s no excuse not to have more than one remote. And if you do, this is the game to get. Mario Party 8 is not perfect, nor does it obliterate what its predecessors accomplished. But the mini-games, old and new, are loads of fun. All things considered, the chase to get the most coins and stars is pretty exciting. After all, this is one giant, virtual board game. But like Monopoly and other classics, you can’t help but whip ‘em out every now and then, regardless of how many birthdays you’ve celebrated.
Buy it for the multiplayer, pass on the single-player. Mario Party 8 shows the beauty of split-screen gaming. When battling others, this is an engaging game of four-player madness. The act of vigorous remote-shaking is easy when up against AI opponents. That’s not the case when facing friends or relatives, who are surprisingly quick at adapting to the game’s play styles – even when they aren’t the biggest or best game players.
Buy it for the multiplayer, pass on the single-player. When battling others, this is an engaging game of four-player madness
Reviewer: Louis Bedigian
Review Date: 06/21/2007