Just because a game has a great concept, doesn’t mean the end product will be the same. Mario Party: The Top 100 is an incredible idea on paper. With over a dozen titles released and a combined total of over eight hundred minigames, this series has been long overdue for some kind of compilation; it’s fantastic that Mario Party: The Top 100 is finally doing just that. While the returning 100 minigames are a joy to see once again, the rest of the package nevertheless delivers a lacklustre experience.
Playing through all 100 minigames that have returned from the ten console Mario Party titles is a blast - one by one they're a nostalgic trip from start to finish. While the game allows the player to play them individually, the main mode - known as Minigame Island - throws each minigame into a progression-based world where winning one round lets the player advance to the next game. It’s a fun but simple mode that provides an extra reason to play through all the minigames again. Nevertheless, don’t expect this to retain anyone's attention for too long; this mode can be finished completely in about two to three hours and there isn’t any incentive to go back and play again.
Each minigame has been revamped and crafted for the 3DS. The visuals have gotten a significant upgrade, all the music has been remixed, the controls have been ported over perfectly, and even some of the games themselves have received gameplay improvements.
The Nintendo 64 minigames - like Desert Dash from the original Mario Party and Snowball Summit from Mario Party 3 - have received gorgeous graphical updates. Crank to Rank from Mario Party 8 now uses a stylus to spin instead of the Wii Remote, and those pesky blister-inducing minigames from the original Mario Party now use the less exploitable Circle Pad of the 3DS. Balloon Busters from Mario Party 7 is now elimination based, and Dizzy Dancing from Mario Party 2 takes longer than three seconds to complete thanks to the rule change of collecting multiple music notes instead of just one. These little quality of life improvements show how much care went into making the minigames just right, and this is easily the highlight of the entire package.
And that’s about it. Sure, Mario Party: The Top 100 features a few additional modes, but those pale in comparison to the equivalent options of past entries in the series. The board gameplay is by far the most disappointing. Minigame Match throws four characters on a small board where everyone moves at the same time to reach and purchase Stars with coins collected from minigames played at the end of every turn. It sounds like classic Mario Party gameplay, but is ultimately a mode reliant on luck where the turns are repetitive and the coins too plentiful. With just a single board to play on it’s clear this mode did not get the necessary development attention it needed. It’s basically Balloon Bash ripped right out of last year’s Star Rush, but worse.
The other modes offer even less. Championship Battles is just a fancy way to play a set amount of minigames. Decathlon is a fun mode that sets up a number of minigames where players compete for the highest scores, but there’s nothing beyond that. Once all the minigames have been played and the other modes touched, there’s nothing left to do.
Mario Party: The Top 100 is a wonderful idea, but it's also held back by the hardware. Mario Party is a multiplayer game at its core. This series is the kind that needs to be available in front of a big TV where friends can easily gather to pick up and play. Once again, this Mario Party does not have online functionality. Being able to play online with friends, even if it’s just to play a few minigames, would significantly raise the replay factor. Otherwise players are stuck searching out and gathering friends who need to have an additional 3DS to play, though download play is an option if you can't muster up multiple copies.
It's a game with a few cut corners and head scratchers, too, typified by the fact there are only eight playable characters.
There is a lot to love in the way Nd Cube brought back 100 beloved minigames from the Mario Party series, but this package falls short in the content used to deliver those bite-sized delights. Mario Party: The Top 100 may hold the record for the most minigames, but it certainly has the least amount of content and the lowest replayability.
The game set out to compile a collection of the best minigames in the series; that goal was accomplished with great results. That makes the initial time spent with Mario Party: The Top 100 an awesome walk through nostalgia lane - unfortunately the rest is a rushed project; with that in mind it fails to live up to its full potential.