Between 1998 and 2007, Nintendo released ten games in the Mario Party franchise including eight in the main series and two for handhelds. While the first title was arguably a revolutionary party game, each successive title has been less and less inspired. By 2007, considerable series fatigue had set in and Nintendo decided to take a much-needed break. The series did not lie dormant for long, however, as Nintendo was back with Mario Party 9 for the Wii in 2012. Still, many reviewers were disappointed with Nintendo for not doing more to change up their stale formula. With Mario Party 10, Nintendo looks to break from tradition and deliver a unique experience with two entirely new game modes: Bowser Party and Amiibo Party. Unfortunately, though these modes do differ from the also-included Mario Party mode, none of them differ enough from the Mario Party modes of the past to make Mario Party 10 anything more than mediocre.
Like in Mario Party 9 before it, Nintendo has streamlined the Mario Party mode. Instead of the traditional system of acquiring coins and stars, you now only have one focus: star coins. You get them for landing on certain spaces, you get them for winning mini games, and sometimes you even get them when you don’t win those mini games. The movement around the board has also been streamlined. Like in Mario Party 9, instead of moving one at a time, all four competitors are in a single vehicle, which is fueled by rolls of the six-sided die blocks. This is nice in that it keeps most games quick (around thirty minutes), but it can also hamper any sort of sense of competition you might otherwise have with your friends. It seems that Nintendo made these changes in an attempt to make the game more accessible, but in the process dumbed down an already dumb game.
Still, at the heart of Mario Party 10 are the mini games. With thirty-one free-for-all games, eight two-on-two games, eight three-on-one games, and eight boss battles, this Mario Party mode boasts one of the largest sets of mini games in the entire series. Unfortunately, most of them are uninspired variants on a few core concepts. Anyone who has played Mario Party 8 or 9 will know what to expect considering you are once again stuck using the all but obsolete Wiimote. Still, a few of them stand out as novel. With Shape Up!, you and a partner are tasked with building a tower past a certain line with a set of shapes. One of you must choose the best shape for the base and the other must start the slow climb upwards by deciding which shape to place on top of that base. You alternate, trying to build your tower faster than the other team. It sounds simple, but it requires a lot of thought and communication. With Rapid River Race, you are in a hover boat racing your three other competitors through a stretch of water. You set your speed as fast as you want, but you need to make sure you aren’t going so fast that you can’t react in time to avoid obstacles. In that way, it feels like you are placing a wager on your reflexes, which was surprisingly exhilarating. But two good mini games aren’t enough to justify this game’s $50 price tag.
Thankfully, Nintendo switches up the formula with Bowser Party as four players use Wiimotes while one player uses the Gamepad to control Bowser. The four players are still in one vehicle and each gets a chance at rolling the die. However, once they’ve all taken their turns, Bowser gets to roll at least four dice in hopes of catching up to trigger a Bowser-on-everyone mini game. In these mini games, Bowser is given the opportunity to hurt the other players. They, in turn, must avoid damage in order to continue their journey to the end of the board. Naturally, these games all feature asynchronous gameplay. For instance, in Bowser High Dive, after Bowser jumps high in the air, you must use the Gamepad to look down and aim where you land. The other players must choose which pedestal to stand on in an attempt to avoid being squashed. Though doing the squashing is incredibly satisfying, being squashed is rather annoying. In that instance, being Bowser is fun, but being everyone else is not. That holds true for many of the other Bowser Party mini games and ultimately leads to a promising mode failing to live up to its full potential.
Don’t expect Amiibo Party mode, which can only be unlocked if you own at least one Amiibo, to bring much more to the table than either of the previous two. In fact, it’s probably the weakest of the three, which is inexcusable considering it’s behind a paywall. Instead of game boards like haunted mansions, oceans, carnivals, and the sky, Amiibo Party is played on perfectly square character-themed boards. Like in many Mario Party games of the past, each character moves independently as they attempt to collect as many stars and coins as possible in ten rounds. After each round, you play the same mini games you’ll play in the other two modes. But perhaps the worst aspect of this mode is that if you’re smart enough not to own an Amiibo, you will be at a distinct disadvantage. Each person with an Amiibo has the opportunity to collect specific coins on the board that grant them special abilities like more coins, better dice blocks, and the ability to switch up the board. With the Bowser Amiibo, you can choose to play on the Bowser Board, which is riddled with Bowser spaces. Though these spaces will hurt everyone else, they will give Bowser some coins and power-ups. This mode could be fun if each player owns an Amiibo, but it’s tough to justify spending the $52 it would take to fully realize Amiibo Party’s potential.
Despite the two additional modes, Mario Party 10 is for better or worse, just another Mario Party game. If you’ve played them in the past, you know what to expect. It’ll be fun for a few rounds with your friends, but ultimately the game lacks the depth needed to keep you coming back for more. It’s perfectly serviceable, but you’re better off looking into alternatives like Game & Wario and Wii Party U.
2.5 Chicks out of 5