I still remember the first time I found out about Mario Party. It was in some old gaming magazine. Maybe it was Play or EGM, but up until then I hadn’t really anticipated the game. The magazine staff had apparently felt the same way, because the article was about how surprised it was after trying a preview build of the game out with staff members and then inviting in friends, girlfriends, etc. to the mix. The photos accompanying the article showed the group of writers– young adults I could identify with, and not the ten year olds I had naively assumed were the target market of the game– having a total blast playing mini-games.
I’d go on to replicate that frivolity with my own circle of friends. We’d had a great time playing other multiplayer games, but for some reason the true advent of the “party game” had arrived. Mario Party was a game purely designed for gaming with friends and family– not an extra mode secondary to a single player adventure, and not something with such penalizing controls I’d never get my light-gamer friends to try it. And at that time, just as after playing Mario Kart or Warcraft III mod Winter Maul, it felt special– like you were participating in the birth of a new video game sub-genre.
As with many Nintendo games, the board game imitators rolled out on other systems, and they generally stunk, and Nintendo mercilessly milked the Mario Party franchise for sequel after sequel, something we’ve been fortunate to not see with such brutality since. (At least not as far as Nintendo’s concerned; Activision, that’s another story.) And since then the “true” party game– a game that looks party and screams party from its mechanics to design– is a much lesser force in the market. The Mario Party franchise is in remission, and notable successors Raving Rabbids, Wii Party and Guilty Party aren’t likely to capture the gaming zeitgeist like the original did. Instead, we’re enjoying spiritual successors like Wii Sports, Rock Band and (inexplicably) Carnival Games, while the bulk of multiplayer mania has returned to where it was before– in first person shooters.
But I’ll never forget the fantastic times I had with my earlier, primary colored party games in the Mushroom Kingdom. Because of those, I always remain on the lookout for the next big party game experience that I can insist my friends try. This week you’ll get to hear about some of our memorable party game experiences both recent and past, and here’s hoping we make some new memories with them in the coming holidays.
Issue 28: Party Time
Pac-Man Party Review by Aaron Roberts
Learn if Pac-Man’s new take on the party genre is worth your power pellets.
Nester64x: Hardcore Mario Party by Nester64x
Playing Mario Party with friends? Weak. With computer? Hardcore.
Meet the Meat-Sims by Andy Hoover
Why play fake board games or with fake musical instruments when you can blast away at gaming’s best bullet receptacles?
Hot Air: Partied by Aaron Roberts
There are lots of games you can bring to a party.
How (Not) To Win Friends & Influence People by Andrew Hsieh
Contrary to popular opinion, Dokapon Kingdom and Journey don’t have anything to do with Pokémon or its ripoffs.
Guilty Party Review by M. Noah Ward
Here’s a novel idea: a party game with a story!
Additional features in this issue…
- Nightly News Roundup by Robert Thompson
- Nightly News Roundup by Carter Fagan
- Dojo-Show-Go! Episode 121 by M. Noah Ward
- Nightly News Roundup by Kevin Knezevic
- Nightly News Roundup by Ben Bertoli
- Nightly News Roundup by M. Noah Ward
Coming Up Next Week…
Issue 29: Gather ‘Round
As we wind down for the holidays, we get into full-on round table mode.