The Mario Party series has attempted twice before to leave the living room. Mario Party Advance, however, was focused solely on single-player, and Mario Party-e wasn’t exactly a wonderful product. Finally, with Mario Party DS, Nintendo has put a full party experience on a handheld.
Shrinking the game to the DS hasn’t shrunk the experience. The game features five different boards with different themes and game mechanics. The graphics seem a lot like the N64 versions of the title, which is both nice and irrelevant since the game relies little on visual appeal.
The single player is painful. The AI is unbalanced to the point of frustration. It seems overly incompetent in minigames and just too lucky with dice rolls. It ends up balancing out near the end, but it just seems like it could have been written better.
The most important part of Mario Party is multiplayer, and this is where this installment shines. The game is entirely download play. The load times are swift, and there is no real lag. Having four players eliminates the need for the bad AI, and the minigames don’t seem imbalanced. The title features over 70 minigames
There are lots of bonuses thrown in to make the game last longer. All the puzzle-related minigames featured in the previous versions make a return in a standalone mode, and though none could carry a game alone, the combination of them makes for hours of fun. Playing the game unlocks little items, and though most are just trophies, some are game modes or special features.
There are some areas that Mario Party DS fails at, but it does the multiplayer right, which is the most important part. If there was ever a reason to have a party in the park, this is it.