Mario Party 9: Same party guests, new refreshments

March 28, 2012

For the last 14 years, The Mario Party series has followed a pretty standard formula that hasn’t seen much variety through the previous eight iterations: gather four of your friends, roll dice, play your minigame, yell at friends, lather, rinse, repeat. Winner is determined by how many stars and coins you have.

A lot of people would probably be thinking, “Huh, another Mario Party game. Same old boring stuff as it usually is.” For once, they’d actually be wrong.

Who would’ve thought that a couple of simple tweaks to the traditional formula would actually make this iteration feel like a completely different ballgame? This time around, all four players travel in a vehicle around the map. Each player takes turn at becoming Captain, leading the group through the board. While this might not sound incredibly exciting, there are benefits of being Captain, ranging from claiming all the mini-stars (the game’s replacement for coins and Power Stars) you encounter on the way to having all your friends at the mercy of the mini-game you want to choose (which doesn’t happen after every turn like in past games).

However, being Captain isn’t all butterflies and sunshine. Being king of the castle also means you take everything bad that comes your way. Worst case scenario: you lose half your mini-stars from a Bob-omb exploding in your face, being scorched by rising magma, or being bit in the butt by a shark.

Unlike the past Mario Party games, all maps in Mario Party 9 have a beginning and end. To compensate for the lack of room to zip around the boards by rolling tens, the traditional Mario Party 1-10 block has become a special block that players could find or earn during gameplay. Instead, the game uses a traditional 1-6 block to ensure the game moves at just the right pace. Additionally, players could slow down or speed up the game or carefully plan out their movements with a variety of different dice blocks. Players can also land on spaces that shoot you backwards to further prolong a game.

Another addition to this game is boss battles. On any given map, there are two stops you must make. The first would be a mid-point, where you challenge one of the game’s bosses and compete for who can score the most points while defeating them. These range from playing a memory-type game with an extremely large Dry Bones to riding mine carts and blasting a Chain Chomp in the face. Each requires their own strategy for coming out on top and defeating your opposition.

In the end though, it boils down the same Mario Party that you either love or hate. Fans of the series will more or less like its new formula, and haters will… well, hate. Each map will provide a nice serving of competitiveness against your friends and all within a reasonable amount of time. Anyone who’s been waiting for them to do something different might want to check this game out.

Good: Fast paced Mario Party action,new formula is a breath of fresh air, Bowser spaces
Bad: New formula might not click for everyone, still very much luck based, Bowser spaces

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.