Developer: Nd Cube
Platforms: Wii U
Notorious multiplayer minigame series Mario Party has made its way to the Wii U. Mario Party 10 follows in the footsteps of launch title Nintendo land by providing 5-player gameplay, with up to 4 players using Wii Remotes, and another player using the Wii U GamePad. After so many installments, does Nintendo’s new system make for a breath of fresh air in the franchise? Let’s go into a breakdown of each game mode on offer and see.
This is the all new mode made for playing with the GamePad, and it’s great fun with at least 2 or 3 players. One player has the GamePad, playing as Bowser in the various minigames and rolling his dice, and the rest are playing in one of the many vehicles. The idea of this mode is that Bowser needs to remove all the hearts from the players to keep them from a star hidden at the end of the board, and the other players have to avoid the Koopa King as long as possible. To help with that, the players can reduce Bowser’s dice blocks (he has 4 as standard), run away and win minigames. The Bowser player’s options are to give chase, take hearts and, on some maps, can try to trick players into choosing the wrong path by using the GamePad to splash graffiti around.
The minigames themselves are different depending on Bowser’s mood, which changes to angry after a turn, and cools down after a minigame win. When Bowser is angry, the minigames are weighed a little more in Bowser’s favor, which helps if the players are getting away. There’s also the occasional help from Bowser Jr, and he does help Bowser out a lot if the players get too close to the goal, but not so much that the other players are overwhelmed.
This is the more familiar mode we’ve come to know and love, and it is mostly the same experience as playing Mario Party 9, with a couple of exceptions. There’s a new feature on the GamePad where Bowser is trapped behind 6 blocks; one for each number on the dice block. He’ll be freed if the players unlock them with their rolls. The player unfortunate enough to break the last lock will have their mini stars cut by half. This role changes to a Toad on the Chaos Castle level, who will give the lucky player 20 mini stars instead. We have one new space on the Haunted Trail board, the Boo Emblem, which causes a Boo to give chase and take 5 mini stars a turn from a player until they find a lamp-post. The levels themselves are the usual mix of lucky spaces, Toad houses, and unlucky spaces, and are great fun as usual.
This mode is a 10 turn race to as gain many stars as possible, played with up to 4 amiibo. The non-amiibo characters if there aren’t enough to fill the slots are represented instead by cardboard cutouts. This plays similarly to the games before Mario Party 9, with separate characters choosing their own paths, and no vehicles. Touch an amiibo to the GamePad to roll the dice, and for using the tokens that can be picked up during play. The GamePad displays collected tokens, while the minigames will use the Wii Remotes as normal.
From the main menu we have the modes discussed above, and a couple of other features. We have the amiibo surprise, which will grant some tokens and a new base to use on the Amiibo boards. There’s the Toad Room, which features a shop where characters, vehicles, music, backgrounds and poses for use in the photography studio can all be purchased. Lastly it has the Photography Studio, where up to four characters can be placed in various poses at the locations bought in the Toad Room.
We’ve also got the bonus games, which are Badminton (singles or doubles) and this is a simple move and hit affair ala Wii Sports Tennis, although good fun for a couple of minutes. There’s also Jewel Drop, which bares a resemblance to Puyo Puyo. A minigame tournament can be played here, comprising up to 8 players. Players can also freely select a variety of Bowser and Bowser Jr minigame challenges.
So, overall this is a nice new installment in the Mario Party series, and has enough new quirks and features to keep it fresh. The new Bowser mode is great fun with friends, and the boards feel revamped enough to keep things interesting. Although the boards are similar in theme to previous games with the exception of Airship Central, they’re a little longer, with more to do on each. The minigames are often enough to keep players engaged, but not so much that they get in the way, and the vehicle mechanic feels less like the entire party is at the mercy of other players than in Mario Party 9. This, if you’re a Mario Party fan is definitely one of the better installments of the series. For non-fans, the Bowser mode and new boards might just be the difference to get more people invested in this minigame extravaganza.