(Wii)

Game Review

Mario Party 9 Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by James Newton

Life and soul

Nintendo's never been afraid to capitalise on the success of its franchises or, as some would say, beat its successful games to within an inch of their lives. Who knew when the very first Mario Party hit N64 in 1998 that, 14 years later, we'd be staring at the 11th — 12th if you count Mario Party-e — instalment in the series? After years of dice blocks and manic minigames, has the franchise finally outlived its welcome?

The pleasing and altogether surprising answer is "no". Mario Party 9 deviates significantly from the series' familiar template, pitching four characters together in a vehicle and having them move along the board together instead of individually. While this removes some of its predecessors' opportunity for devious route-taking and opponent-stomping, it actually works well, increasing the speed of games and facilitating a new style for the boards.

Instead of collecting coins to purchase stars, you now collect mini-stars when you pass over certain squares. Mini-stars are generously distributed around the boards, so it's no longer a case of everyone racing to get to one spot only for the Star to move. There are so-called mini-ztars that rob you of your precious little lights though, so look out.

Gone too is the rigid structure of playing a mini game after all characters have taken their turn. Mini games are less frequent occurrences now, taking place when you land on certain squares or simply by chance, and this title is better and quicker for it. That's not to say the mini games are poor — most of them eschew shaky motion controls in favour of holding the Wii Remote NES-style, but the games that employ motions do so with a quick shake or simple twist. Some might be disappointed at the lack of Wii MotionPlus controls, but that's more Wii Play Motion's arena; it's unlikely Ndcube could have come up with 80 motion-emphasis mini games that are as good as the more traditional button-based affairs often found here. Gladly there's rarely a scenario where the controls get in the way, with simple explanations and practically zero loading time getting you in and out of the games quickly and easily. With 80 mini games included there's bound to be a few duff ones, but on the whole it's one of the strongest arrays for quite a while.

Still more change comes in the form of new boss battles: whereas previous games ended after a certain number of turns, each board in MP9 now has a clearly defined end point where the final boss lurks. Reaching a boss or mini-boss as the Captain — i.e. on your turn — nets you bonus mini-stars and the choice to pick your opponent, and while there aren't that many boss options most of them are an enjoyable mix of skill and chaos. Whether you're on a mine cart destined to fire a cannon at a Chain Chomp or playing a fantastically tactical numbers game with Whomp, they're just long enough to feel like boss battles and just short enough to stay fun.

You'll be able to finish most parties in around 30 minutes, whetting the appetite for another go-around. Play accumulates party points, which you can spend on new boards, vehicles, a harder difficulty level or constellations for the observatory mode. It'll take plenty of play to unlock everything, whether solo or in a party, providing welcome reasons to return. In fact, there's a separate mode that pitches single players against CPU opponents across each board: if you lose, you fail the board and have to try again. Suffice to say, you won't be firing it up for repeated solo play.

Not in the board game mode at least, but the Extras menu holds a few intriguing alternatives, from an addictive puzzle game with the most infuriating music to Goomba Bowling, where you throw red shells at waves of Goombas. Both are worth a blast, though Shell Soccer is pretty woeful. You can also choose to play any unlocked mini game at your leisure if you don't fancy traipsing around the board.

It's not all successful though: the so-called Captain Events are often poorly explained side quests that confuse far more than they entertain, and unlike fellow recent Mario-themed board game Fortune Street/Boom Street there's no online play, so it's strictly a single room-only experience. It doesn't suffer too much for that — all parties are best contained in a single area — but if you don't have a regular corral of local players you might find it off-putting.

Conclusion

Mario Party 9 makes the most major changes to the series we've seen in years, streamlining it to a short and snappy rush of mini games. It's less predictable than its previous instalments, smartly ditching the dead wood in favour of a fresh approach that emphatically reminds us why the series has been going for 14 years.

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Game Trailer

What's new, Mario Mario? Nintendo's new party game is out soon and here's a trailer to show you exactly what's changed. Want to know more? H

User Comments (84)

LEGEND_MARIOID

#1

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Already have my copy and can confirm it is excellent, especially in multiplayer. Sound job done by the devs here. Polished and quality. Reads and plays like a 9/10 actually.

Yosher

#2

Yosher said:

And still I'm disappointed by the fact that the 'Classic' mode isn't even an option. Will be getting this anyway though!

Whopper744

#3

Whopper744 said:

Really looking forward to this one!! (Hence the current Yoshi from Mario Party 9 avatar).
Glad to see it's got decent reviews. I wish it would just come out already here in the US!

Shiryu

#5

Shiryu said:

Got it yesterday. Should live up the place if any friends drop by my home.

TrueWiiMaster

#7

TrueWiiMaster said:

I might actually get this. I loved the old games, but was disappointed with 6,7, and 8. Glad to see Mario Party's worth playing again.

Whopper744

#9

Whopper744 said:

@bezerker99 I don't think I'd give up completely if you didn't like 8.
9 seems to be a good bit of a change. Hoping it makes it at more fresh, and maybe a little more fast paced.

Squiggle55

#10

Squiggle55 said:

could someone describe their problems with 8 to me? I can't pinpoint why there is so much hate for that game.

Punny

#11

Punny said:

@Squiggle55: The reasons I didn't like 8 so much were the fact that it lacked a true widescreen mode, had pretty bland visuals, lame character choices (Blooper? Seriously?), and a boring single-player mode. At least that's my opinion. I'm not trying to troll or anything. If you like it, by all means like it! :)

Back to Mario Party 9, I am surprisingly excited about it! I'm going to rent it first, though.

Zach

#12

Zach said:

Q: This game is the favorite Mario Party title of WHICH popular 60's band?

BudDudSlash

#13

BudDudSlash said:

Sounds like someone stepped back and addressed the real gameplay problems of Mario Party. Awesome- just too bad it took over a decade.

Objection

#16

Objection said:

Coolios, I'll be getting this down the line.
I'm ok with no online, as how likely are you to maintain a connection with 4 players, with no one having to leave, for 30 straight minutes or more?

CapedGodot

#17

CapedGodot said:

That's very unfortunate. I told myself a while ago that if it turned out to not have the option of Classic play (meaning everyone moving individually), that I wouldn't be buying it, and I'll stick to that. Oh well.

NintendoNaut

#22

NintendoNaut said:

Ehhhhh not sure if I can get past the whole moving together on a vehicle thing. Seems like the strategy of the old games is gone. Might pass on this.

nesatnite

#23

nesatnite said:

@Zach
the beatles? "baby you can drive my car?"

im so glad to hear that theres not going to be a lot of motion control and that i dont have to buy $80 worth of motion control plus. im not a party guy unless its mario party time!

MagicEmperor

#25

MagicEmperor said:

Now, this looks like a solid return to form for the franchise. I'm definitely picking this up. My brother, friends, and I can't wait.

Luigi_Vercotti

#26

Luigi_Vercotti said:

@Fuzzy
the song : mybe john & yoko's favorite, rest of the gang: maybe not ...
the game: i bet ringo and george would've loved it. paul maybe. john & yoko: maybe not... :-)

Odnetnin

#27

Odnetnin said:

Sorry, but Mario Party 8 has wounded me far too much for me to ever consider buying a $50 Mario Party game ever again.

warioswoods

#32

warioswoods said:

I look forward to this one. Increasing the speed of play is just what the franchise needed. That, and finally taking it away from Hudson (sorry, Hudson).

ueI

#33

ueI said:

I will be avoiding this game because I disliked Mario Party 8. I thought that game was too luck based. I know this isn't the same game, but I'm not willing to risk it. How could Hudson have messed up 8 after so many other Mario Parties that I enjoyed? With stupidly random board effects, that's how.

@Ulala Haha, I loved that!

Shirma_Akayaku

#34

Shirma_Akayaku said:

As I mentioned in my other comments from other articles:
"Making a mini-game that is completely luck based is hogwash.
The mini-games that combined luck with skill made things interesting".

Bankai

#35

Bankai said:

Wait, what's the point of having a board game where everyone moves at the same time, at the same number of paces?

Screw that I'm going back to Fortune Street.

RedYoshi999

#36

RedYoshi999 said:

I've already got it pre-ordered but I'm still disappointed in the removal of "classic mode" and the removal of coins/items. It doesn't seem like Mario Party any more. I hope the game can prove me wrong though.

Ski_Deuce

#37

Ski_Deuce said:

Sounds interesting. I actually just got 8 for Christmas. I've only done some casual play with my sister, but 8 has some of the freshest takes on boards that I've seen. I've played 1,2 and 5 extensively, and after playing 5, 8 has been a breath of fresh air so far. 5 had tons of mini games that relied far too much on chance and stale boards with little variety. I've heard that the AI stinks in 8 though and can't provide much of a challenge. Out of all these, I'd still pick out the original as my favorite. The low point for me has been 5, but everything else has been solid. The franchise is still strong in my experience.

WaveBoy

#39

WaveBoy said:

Will definitly be buying in the future, which is odd considering Mario Party doesn't exactly tickle my fancy, but this one looks totaly awesome on all levels. Hudson has finally buzzed off. Good grief.

SpriteKing

#40

SpriteKing said:

Me and my buds had fun with the 2nd one (Which I got from Club Nintendo) so I might get it if I ever get any money.

Mattiator

#42

Mattiator said:

Wake me up when they bring the tank battle from 5 back. I played that more than the actual game.

BlueToad

#43

BlueToad said:

Looking forward to this one, it looks like it has some new things to offer to the other 10 games. (dont forget gba and ds.)

evildevil97

#44

evildevil97 said:

8 had some of my favourite boards. 5, 6, and 7 are my favourites though. Will probably pick up 9 down the road.

Kage_88

#45

Kage_88 said:

Initially, I didn't give Mario Part 9 much thought; but after reading the changes it has introduced, I may actually end up getting it after all. It sounds lke it'd be a riot to play with my bro!

Hats off to Nd Cube!

James

#46

James said:

After 12 years of the same Mario Party I can't believe anyone is upset that the series has changed for the better. If it were just the same as the others everyone would complain, surely.

Anyway, get this game, it is good fun.

Bankai

#47

Bankai said:

Because taking a board game game franchise and turning it into a pretend board game franchise is a sure fire guarantee of success?

I respect your opinion a great deal, James, but surely you can understand that people that liked Mario Party because it was a board game would be pretty peeved off that apparently it's now forgotten that it was a board game franchise?

I'm sure it's good fun but... meh. I get plenty of fun out of Fortune Street still.

Haywired

#49

Haywired said:

@JimLad
Yeah, the Mario Party boxarts are always reliably awesome. Just because they're so chock full of bright, colorful Nintendo goodness. They don't do minimalism that's for sure!

LEGEND_MARIOID

#50

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

The main thing is the devs have really thought very carefully about what they're doing here. Made many common sense as well as intelligent improvements.

cyrus_zuo

#51

cyrus_zuo said:

I was a big fan of 8, in large part b/c of the boards. I really like the hotel investing one. It gave the game a bit of a monopoly feel. We haven't played it much since we got WiiParty though.

I am concerned about a couple things I've heard about in reviews. I've read that being in the car together makes it so you can't apply powerups to anyone except the person ahead of you, and that whoever gets into the lead stays in the lead. Those would not be appreciated aspects of the game if typically true.

Whopper744

#52

Whopper744 said:

@James I'm sure it will be. Sometimes it's nice just to loosen up and play a goofy game like Mario Party with friends. It gives my wife (who doesn't play much games) a chance to beat me at something. haha. Not that I enjoy all the luck at times, but , it does make it more fun for everyone, instead of just hardcore gamers. Which is good, cause I don't have very many hardcore gamers that are close to me.
Still alot of complaints here (which is expected). Can't make everyone happy.

Viper9

#53

Viper9 said:

I hope it will be better than Mario Party 8 because I really like to play MP with my friends and MP8 was not the better of the series.

DestinyMan

#55

DestinyMan said:

Believe it or not, but I like that they've shaken things up this time. After so many entries that were basically expansion packages, Nintendo decided to take it another direction. At least this is apparently better than 8, which unimpressed me to the point where I played it once and then never played it again. Freshness is good. If this was just like every other Mario Party game, people would be complaining about it not being different. Complainers will complain.

My money is tight, so I won't get this right away, but I will a few weeks afterward.

Xiao_Pai

#56

Xiao_Pai said:

I'm waiting on this one...don't think I'll be able to get back into Mario Party. Besides, I already decided and made a promise to myself that I would get Kid Icarus: Uprising. xD (and Rayman Origins whenever it pops up on the 3DS this month)
And like Chocobo/Waltz/whatever the heck his name is right now said, I'm fine with Fortune Street right now. :3

wiz0_0

#57

wiz0_0 said:

Good review. I was on the fence about this one but I think I'll give it a try!

WaveBoy

#58

WaveBoy said:

@Haywired

MP9 is definitly rocking some gorgeous BoxArt. However i can't say the same for those super minimal and incredibly bland 'white back ground' Modern Mario Kart covers. :p

JeanLuc_Vaycard

#59

JeanLuc_Vaycard said:

Glad this one turned out good. This one looked nice from the start. Hoping this is much better than Mario party 8.

Haywired

#62

Haywired said:

@WaveBoy
Yeah I totally agree. While the Mario Party boxart style is probably a bit busy for other games, I've also found the recent "white background" Mario Kart boxarts to be quite bland.

Godstrike

#68

Godstrike said:

I have made up my mind I will never touch this game, NEVER!!!! moving everyone at the same time, taking away coins and items and also the STARS!!! those little white ones don't count I want the old mario party back you know the one that made you want to kill everyone you play with for the decisions they make not this 4 year old crap!

MrZanctom

#70

MrZanctom said:

Yea, the game looks alright but, the car idea seems a little weird to me. Oh well, you have to have change in a series that has been going on for 14 years.

Chris720

#72

Chris720 said:

I thought the idea of a board game was to move around the board separately and defeat your opponents, not go around the same board at the same pace at the same time... that's just stupid.

And I'm going to say it, I did quite like Mario Party 8, but some of the mini-games were definitely way too easy, especially if you go up against CPU players.

Tasuki

#75

Tasuki said:

Got this one on my GameFly queue. I havent played a Mario Party game since the first Mario Party but this one looks like it can be fun.

Henmii

#76

Henmii said:

So it's actually quite good according to this review! The last one I played was number 2! Maybe I should try this one after all! Now I also understand why the characters move around in a car (I first thought it was a cheap gimmick): They don't move individually anymore!

"Well Hudson is gone now :´(
Konami owns the "Hudson" trademark but the Hudson studio is shut down"

The game is made by Nd Cube, and according to this site many people from Nd Cube come from Hudson and worked on the first 8 games. So there is still some "Hudson" in it, wich really surprised me!

rhythmheavenfan

#77

rhythmheavenfan said:

They made some refreshing changes that are quite fun, but there's a little too much luck involved at times.

photofool83

#78

photofool83 said:

There is some luck involved but it definitely rewards the player that does well in the mini-games and I must say, the mini-games are quite awesome!! I've played Mario Party from the beginning and I would easily put this up there with Mario Party 3 and Mario Party DS.

JayceJa

#79

JayceJa said:

increasing the speed was needed, but this removes the entire point of it being a board game, which is rather silly i think.

not that id have gotten it either way, i loved the old mario party games with my brothers, but we dont game together on consoles anymore, so no online kills it for me

Mryokokurama1

#80

Mryokokurama1 said:

To bad theres no online mode that would deinetly had made my day if there was but it looks pretty good probaly be the next wii game on my list after i get mario and sonic 2012 olympic games.

Grubdog

#81

Grubdog said:

While Mario Party 9 is certainly a step up for the series, all the hate directed at Hudson for the previous games is unfortunate. It's still pretty much the same team making the game, as many Hudson employees were absorbed by Nintendo. With Mario Party 9, it seems they have finally been able to use Nintendos own assets - the graphics take a lot of tricks from Super Mario Galaxy and Skyward Sword and they've taken advantage of a lot of new things in the Extras.

After playing that glorious marble rolling mini-game in Mario Party 9, i'm convinced it's still the same Hudson at the helm - the tilt controls are IDENTICAL to Hudsons own Kororinpa.

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