Mario Party 8
Goose board, Amazing Labyrinth, Monopoly, Risk,… Back in the old days, board games were popular. Now, the only game I still play is Settlers of Catan. And even then, I have to admit I play it online. The other games I play belong to the console or handheld generation. With the Mario Party series you have a healthy combination of both: a board game on console.
With Mario Party 8 the series is coming to the Wii for the first time. Well, if there is one console that is perfectly fit for this… But let’s start at the beginning, for those of you who have been hiding in a cave for the last ten years and don’t know the concept of Mario Party. You can summarize it as an interactive goose board in a happy and colourful setting. Every players hits the dice, moves and then there’s a minigame to earn money. You can use this money to buy stars and whoever has the most stars at the end of the game wins. There are always some special items, candy this time, that lets you throw the dice twice or even three times, that puts you on the space of someone else, that lets you steal coins,…
The star appears on a random place and the first one to get there with enough money buys it. That’s the principle that’s used in all the previous versions. The good news is that in Mario Party 8, there are six different boards and there’s only one – DK’s Treetop Temple – that’s still played like this. The other boards are always a little different. Goomba’s Booty Boardwalk is a linear board where you can buy a star every time you reach the end. Afterwards, you’re shot back to the beginning. At King Boo’s Haunted Hideaway, you literally have to find the star. You don’t know where it is, on the map you can only look at the rooms you already visited. When someone was able to find a star, the ghost mansion changes completely and you can start searching again. Shy-Guy’s Perplex Express is a train where you can buy a star from Shy Guy when you reach the locomotive. Then, you have to go back to the beginning of the train on the roof. Little detail, there are special spaces in and on the train that make the last carriage – and everyone in it – become the first. My personal favourite is Koopa’s Tycoon Town, based a little on Monopoly. The board is a town with a few hotels in it. If you have the most money in a hotel, you’re the owner. Moreover, the hotel becomes a two stars hotel if there are 20 coins in it and a three stars hotel when there are 50.This way, you can play tactically and come up with a strategy to steal hotels from your opponents or to make your empire as big as possible. When you have finished these five boards in single player, you unlock Bowser’s Warped Orbit. Here everyone starts with a few stars and it’s the purpose to steal stars from the others by using your candy.
If the number of turns you chose is over, there giving away bonus stars (if you want that). Fun is the fact that now you can tell which stars this will be. There are three stars to be granted, but there are six possibilities: the minigame star, the candy star, the green spaces star, the running star (most spaces done), the shopping star and the red spaces star.
You can find the six boards in the party tent on the Star Carnival. Up to four players can play, you can form two teams of each two players or you can play with two in Duel Battle. If you choose the latter, the purpose of the game sometimes changes. To give you an example, if you play Shy-Guy’s Perplex Express in Duel Battle, you win if you’re the first to bring fifty coins to a movie star in the train.
After every turn, there’s a minigame. Depending on the spaces the players landed on, this can be a 4-player minigame, a 2-vs.-2 or a 1-vs.-3. In previous Mario Party editions the minigames were often just button smashing. You had to push a button as fast as possible or you had to push some buttons in the correct order. Of course, this Wii version makes use of the motion sensors. A lot of minigames work with the point & shoot principle. Another big part asks you to turn the Wii-mote and hold it like a NES controller that you tilt to the left or the right. Besides that, there are some minigames that really make you move: making circles when you’re rowing, throw a lasso, hammer, inflate a balloon, break a statue by boxing on it,… Fun, but we never really experienced a wow feeling. Maybe we are spoilt by games like Rayman Raving Rabbids and WarioWare: Smooth Moves? This games give you the feeling the use of the Wii-mote is very innovative, Mario Party 8 doesn’t.
If you can’t get enough of the minigames, you can go to the Minigame tent. Here you can play every minigame you already unlocked. Moreover, you can choose for Crown Showdown, where you have to win three, five or seven minigames to be victorious. Flip-Out Frenzy gives you a quadrangle with panels. If you win a minigame, you can pick a panel. All the other panels in the same row and column get your sign. When all the panels are taken, the one with the most panels wins. It made us think of Othello a bit. In Tic-Tac Drop, you play Duel minigames to decide who can drop a ball of his colour in the lattice. Get three ball of your colour in a row and you win. Last but not least, there’s Test for the Best. You get ten minigames, one after another, and you have to try to break the high score.
Want even more? Then go to the Extra’s Zone for eight longer minigames. Table tennis, bowling, a puzzle game, a race game,… Some are not worth playing – if we want bowling, we’ll play Wii Sports! – but others are very fun. A few of this games you get for free, others you have to buy with your carnival cards in the Fun Bazaar. You get carnival cards for everything you do, but to be honest, there are few things interesting enough to buy them. The games of the Extra’s Zone and maybe some minigames the wheel keeps passing in the party tent or in the single player mode, you’ll probably want to unlock. To collect all the unlockable statues, you really have to be an extreme fan though!
The Wii isn’t very good in graphics, you probably knew that already. However, if you look at Mario Party 8, you can honestly say it looks exactly the same as the old GameCube versions. If there’s a little effect, for example when you eat a candy, you can even notice a framedrop. Ok, the graphics are not really important for a game like this, but still, a bit of effort won’t hurt! Another thing that lots of gamers will find annoying: this game doens’t support 16:9. Well, the title screen and the menu does, but as soon as you start playing, it changes to 4:3 and you get two pieces of old fashioned wallpaper at the sides. An indication for the time and effort the makers put in this game?
Other crew members like Slyoldfox, FroFro, Rian and Zwan can confirm the fact we had a lot of fun with Mario Party 8. It’s a pretty good game, but still, it’s mostly the same concept as the previous versions. Whether you should pay that much money for it? In short, if you love board games – and the luck that you need with them – and you like to play minigames, then you should buy it. If you just want lots of minigames and an innovative use of the Wii-mote, then you should go for Rayman Raving Rabbids of WarioWare: Smooth Moves.