Mario Party 9 Review
Game: Mario Party 9
Developer: Nd Cube
Available on: Nintendo Wii only
Naming conventions are a funny thing. On one hand, you can’t just repeatedly call a game the same thing over and over again; on the other hand, we have Final Fantasy XIII-2. Given that the Nintendo Wii is almost certainly in its twilight years, the naming can be forgiven, perhaps with a view to a potential Wii U reboot, along with all the magic that device could bring. For now though, Mario Party 9 is the latest instalment in the long running series that has even seen Nintendo DS releases. Is it a case of one mini-game too many for Mario and his parties?
STORY: Mario and friends are sitting around watching the stars and – yes, you guessed it – Bowser decides to spoil the evening by sucking all of the stars into a machine, just to spoil everyone’s fun. However, our heroes aren’t going to stand for this and decide to go after Bowser. Realising that he is being pursued, Bowser sends his minions after whichever characters are chasing him down, to try and stop them.
GRAPHICS: Mario Party 9 is visually similar to the Mario Galaxy titles, mostly 3D in nature, full of colour and charm. There’s plenty of characters on show, from the obvious like Mario and Yoshi, to the lesser known ones like Kamek or Birdo. There’s nothing really to complain about in terms of how Mario Party 9 looks whatsoever.
AUDIO: Not much has changed over the years with the Mario Party games, and as usual there will be some cheery music playing throughout the experience, turning dramatic when Bowser shows up. All the characters have something to say for themselves, even if it’s just Yoshi chirping “Yoshi!” at the camera repeatedly. Be prepared for plenty of repetition and gibberish noises, especially as Toad returns as the MC of the games.
GAMEPLAY: If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Usually yes, but there have been some changes. In the older Mario Party games you would pick a character and it’d play out like a board game, with each player taking turns and moving around the board independently of one another. In Mario Party 9 however, there are times where you all sit in a vehicle and move as one, with whichever character whom rolled the die getting the spoils of the circle they land on. As you go round the board you will be tasked with collecting mini-stars, which are randomly placed each time. There are also negative-stars, if you land on these you’ll lose stars.
Mini-games are the meat of the game though, and you’ll spend plenty of time playing them. Be it a battle-circle (where you are competing for each other’s mini-stars, the currency for playing them) or a standard mini-game, most of them require you to turn the Wiimote on its side and use the buttons. None of them are taxing or complex; meaning anyone can join in. After each mini-game you’ll get rewarded depending on your place in the game, then you go back to the board and continue.
There are boss sections in Mario Party 9 too. You’ll stop and have to (sort of) work together to take down one of Bowser’s minions. These are fun and frantic occasions but if you are playing Solo mode and have any level of skill, you’ll always win.
The biggest problem with the Mario Party series returns though, you can actually win the round without actually winning it. So much is based on chance and dice-rolls (which, given that it’s a board game is fair enough, I suppose) that if you are going to take things seriously, you’re going to get frustrated. Apart from the random pick-ups and negative pick-ups, after a match is done you will have the after-show awards, where you can go from first to third rather quickly, as people are rewarded for “highest overall dice rolls” and other arbitrary, irrelevant actions.
Solo mode takes place over six boards, and will take you a good while to get through but the meat of the game is in the local multiplayer, with up to four people taking part in the fun. At least if you lose to friends, you’ve all had a good time. There is also the option to just play the mini-games, if that takes your fancy.
LONGEVITY: Each round will take around the 40-60 minute mark, so even the solo mode will take around six hours to get through. Add in the local fun and you’ve got a game that is brilliant for families and will easily take up full afternoons.
VERDICT: Whilst Mario Party 9 doesn’t bring too much new to the series, it’s a fine effort nonetheless. Clearly aimed at a younger audience, it succeeds in bringing people together in front of the television to enjoy some Mario fun, and how can that be a bad thing?