The Mario Party series is intended to engender friendly competition in a colourful, cartoon-like world, but as we all know, it rarely ends up like that. Few Nintendo franchises are capable of totally destroying relationships like this one, and since the inception of the series in the Nintendo 64, we've seen plenty of chances to annoy friends and family over the years.
With the release of Super Mario Party - one of the best entries in the series in years - we thought it might be nice to recount some of our personal memories relating to the lineage.
Ryan Craddock, staff writer
For me, Mario Party will always bring back memories of my childhood, even if the games started to grate on me after a while. My dear Mum and I would play Mario Party 4, 5 and 6 together pretty regularly, sometimes thanks to her wonderful trait of letting me have the odd day off school for no reason other than to play games together (although my pet rabbit actually chewed through Mario Party 6’s included microphone cable, so that didn’t help).
I always preferred the minigames to the main event as a child (although with Super Mario Party I’ve grown to love all aspects), which naturally meant that I started to lose interest after hours and hours of travelling around the boards. I’ll always love how they can appeal to players of all skill levels and experience, though, allowing us to both enjoy the game in equal measure.
Liam Doolan, news reporter
There are some serious life lessons in the original Mario Party games on the Nintendo 64. Much like the real world – one minute you’re enjoying the high life and the next thing you know you’ve lost it all. I guess in the context of Mario Party, this loosely translates to another player taking every star and coin in your possession. Often when I did get past this point, my hopes of winning would then be crushed during Toad’s closing ceremony when a player who was seemingly done and dusted made a stunning comeback by claiming every bonus star on offer. #rigged
Steve Bowling, US editor
My most fond memory of Mario Party is also my most recent. The night of Super Mario Party's release, I was hanging out with two seasoned Mario Party players: Andre Segers of Gamexplain and Imran Khan of Game Informer. We sat down to play with Andre playing Mario, Imran playing Rosalina and me playing as Wario. For our fourth, we added a computer player, Peach, on the hardest AI setting. The game was set for 20 turns, which takes about two hours. As we started the game, we all joked that Mario Party's notoriously brutal AI would be the death of us, and how the game would find a way to put an end to our friendship.
Many minigames and a few drinks later, we were at the end of last dice roll of the 20th turn.
Peach was down by two stars, with my Wario in first place. Peach was up next. In that last roll she managed to use a gold warp pipe to grab a star, then got a second star from a hidden block. When the post-game bonuses were announced, guess who grabbed a third-star? Peach. I was dropped from first place all the way to fourth, and Peach, who we all knew was going to find a way to make us salty, claimed first. I may have lost, but it was the absolute best game of Mario Party I've ever played.
Austin Voigt, contributor
Although the first Mario Party released when I was the tender age of 6 - and not yet permitted to have any video game systems of my own - I do recall fond childhood memories of experiencing this shiny new multiplayer game on friends' N64s. Some shamefully involved kicking the controller out of others' hands in order to win the minigames!
However, the only previous version of Mario Party I actually owned myself was Mario Party 8 on the Wii - and sadly, it did not get played as much as it should have. Luckily, now that some time has passed - and more of my friends & family have become gamers - I have every intention of picking up the Switch version before the holidays. And solidly trouncing my grandma. (No joke - this will be a challenge; she's actually great at gaming.)
Gonçalo Lopes, contributor
Since I am as old as time itself, it comes as no surprise that I actually got to experience the series right from the original Nintendo 64 outing. In those simpler days when the Internet was still an expensive privilege, local multiplayer remained the number one source for juvenile shenanigans for me and my like-minded friends.
Between loud Goldeneye and even louder WCW/nWo Revenge sessions, the original Mario Party became our number one go-to game when it came to pitting Nintendo characters against one another - outside the realm of karts, of course - at a time when no one could know that in just one year, something far more smashing was coming along. The board game nature of the title also made it far more accessible to non-hardcore gamers like our parents, so it was a title that could be enjoyed by the whole family without much fuss. Don’t mistake that last statement to assume this was a casual experience; some of those minigames gave the poor Nintendo 64 controllers' analogue sticks quite a workout, but if anyone asks “officially”, none of them were broken playing Mario Party. Honest.
For me, the series truly took off on the GameCube, with the new technology enabling a big leap in aesthetics while at the same time not ditching out the ease of local multiplayer shenanigans and casual player friendliness. While not a match for the utter insanity surrounding our playing sessions of NHL Hitz, we still found saner entertainment in the GameCube entries of Mario Party 4 and 5, with my only regret being the late arrival of Mario Party 6. The microphone minigames were ridiculously fun, but we hardly had time to play them.
By the time the Wii arrived, something odd began happening with most of my friends. While I kept on living out my youthful carefree existence surrounded by Nintendo video game bliss, everyone was starting to get married, have children and take part in adult stuff like “real jobs”. While the Wii truly was the absolute king at parties, there where so many multiplayer offerings that even Mario Party began to struggle to stand out.
The brilliant Wii U version was used one single time with friends and I suspect the Switch version will probably have a similar future. I must admit that most of my friends have naturally outgrown the series, but I will keep on picking up every new outing; it may not be the pinnacle of Nintendo's triple-A franchise pile, but one day I hope to once again gather family and friends around Nintendo hardware for some wacky dice-throwing antics.
Damien McFerran, editor
I have to admit, I'm one of those people who doesn't possess especially strong feelings about the Mario Party series; unlike Mario Kart and Smash Bros., the franchise tends to pass under the radar of many players, but the massive number of instalments would suggest it has a large fanbase - and my few experiences with the game have illustrated why that is.
I recall playing the original Mario Party with a group of friends who weren't what you'd call seasoned players. I popped it into the N64 almost unwillingly, as I was keener to play titles like GoldenEye 007 and J-League Perfect Striker - titles that required serious skill and therefore gave plenty of opportunity for bragging rights. However, I instantly became aware of the true power of Mario Party; because so much of it is based on chance it's more of a throwback to board games - you know, those things we all used to play before video games came along and ruined family time.
The minigames are simple but engaging, which helps novices to jump right in. Finally, the cast of instantly-recognisable characters makes the whole thing tremendously appealing, even to non-gamers. That's perhaps the true magic of the Mario Party franchise; it's one of Nintendo's most accessible series, which is really saying something when you consider how much effort the company makes to ensure its games can be enjoyed by as many people as possible.
Richard Atkinson - contributor
Friendships. Many of us are lucky to have them and, in many instances, there are few things in the world that can easily break that special bond we hold with our nearest and dearest. That is until Mario Party entered the video game scene on the N64 in the late '90s and, boy, did we know about it…
The Mario party series boasts itself – and always has done – as the ultimate couch party game and it personally has a special place in my heart. Since I was first rage-quitting at the tremendously young age of 10, I’ve played pretty much every Mario Party there is and, although it’s no secret that the franchise has come across some seriously questionable design choices over the years (I’m looking at you Mario Party 9 with your silly car mechanic), there’s no denying that the mini-games are where it’s at.
The recent launch of Super Mario Party on Switch isn’t perfect, but it feels like Nintendo has listened to its ever-vocal fans; the car is nowhere to be seen, less random stars are dished out willy-nilly at the end of games and the motion controls actually add a ton of fun and the 'waggles' don't feel shoe-horned in to put the Joy-Con back on the main stage as a system seller.
Never go away, Mario Party, even if my best friend still won’t talk to me after snatching her stars right from under her unsuspecting nose using the gold pipe.
What are your personal memories of the Mario Party series? Feel free to share them with the wider world by posting a comment below.