Mario Party: A 15 Year Celebration

Take a trip through each of the Mario Party games in this anniversary jamboree!

By Kyle England. Posted 02/10/2014 09:00 3 Comments     ShareThis

Mario Party

Nintendo 64 (1999)
Boards: 8
Minigames: 49

This is the game that started a party that would not stop for six years straight. Mario Party made its debut on Nintendo 64 and spawned the genre of modern party games. The combination of traditional board game elements along with short and simple minigames proved to be a very compelling multiplayer experience, and most Mario Party games have not strayed far from the formula the original title created. Hit the dice, play minigames, get coins, buy stars, be the superstar!

Hudson was new at this whole party thing, so Mario Party has many elements that never carried over to future titles– most of these omissions were for the better. Most famously, there are a handful of minigames (three, actually) that require players to repeatedly rotate the Nintendo 64 joystick, which was disastrous for controllers and players’ palms. Besides those few games, Mario Party is still a good experience. It’s neat to see where all of the Mario Party tropes got started! There is also a quaint and nostalgic atmosphere in the game’s Mushroom Village that you don’t find in the stagnant menus of later games.

Turns flow fairly quickly, unlike some of the later GameCube entries. There’s also no usable items on boards and only four types of minigames, which is good for those who prefer to play as purists. But be warned: Mario Party has some of the harshest consequences in the series. Boo can steal coins for free, players can trade stars during Chance Time, and losing players in minigames often lose coins. Many boards are also navigated through luck, so be wary of that.

Today, you can only (legally) play Mario Party in its original cartridge form on N64. If you’re looking to buy a cart, they usually sell for around $30. Once you fish out four controllers, the party can get started!

The Good:

  • More party boards than any other title
  • Off-board items that can change games
  • Surprising variety for a debut game

The Bad:

  • Not many minigames compared to later games
  • Harsh consequences for the unlucky
  • Terrifying joystick rotation games

Stand-out Minigames: Crazy Cutter, Mushroom Mix-up, Bumper Balls, Face Lift

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3 Responses to “Mario Party: A 15 Year Celebration”

  • 111 points
    roykoopa64 says...

    Wow, excellent job stepping through the whole (console) history of the series! I remember hearing you mention you would be working on this feature when I listened to a recent episode (10, I think) of the podcast (oops, I’ve missed some of the newer episodes). My experience with the Mario Party series is rather limited, so I found it interesting to read about the changes made along the way.

    So DK is not a playable character starting with Mario Party 5? I was wondering why he showed up on the box covers in some of the later games. Looking it up online now, I see he becomes a non-playable character you interact with on certain boards. I wonder why they did that? Even Mario Kart 7 still has features the burly ape as a playable character.

    • 819 points
      Toadlord says...

      Removing DK as a playable character always bummed me out, too. Especially when they go to great lengths to make you hate the guy, like when he gives a free star to someone who doesn’t need it. I know when I was playing the GameCube Mario Party titles, I viewed him on-par with Bowser in terms of annoyance.

      Truth be told, there’s not much that could get me to buy a new Mario Party nowadays. I’m just not in the position to play with many people for local multiplayer, and online would have to be done really well for me to consider it.

      • 285 points
        Kyle England says...

        Glad you guys liked the feature! I was never a huge DK fan in Mario Party, but it was odd that he became an event guy from 5 onwards. His minigames were always tough to unlock if you wanted 100% as well.

        80% of the fun in Mario Party does come from being with your friends. I can’t see that level of energy being replicated through online play any time soon. The fact that I can still play Mario Party 15 years later and have fun with it now that I’m older really speaks to that.

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