Mario Party 10 is Nintendo's big retail release in both North America and Europe this week, so we can expect the big N to make a lot of noise ahead of the 20th March arrival. Nintendo of America, for its part, has announced some social networking shenanigans in the form of a 'Virtual Launch Party' on Wednesday 18th March, running from 1pm Pacific / 4pm Eastern / 8pm UK / 9pm CET until 5pm Pacific / 8pm Eastern / midnight UK / 1am CET.

Although we've included European times above, this does look - at the moment - like an occasion exclusively for North America. The initial tweet is below.

That made us think there may be a live stream or broadcast, but the link is to a Facebook post that suggests the main activities will be sweepstakes and hashtags on the Nintendo of America Twitter account. An excerpt from the Facebook post is below, with a Wii U and a copy of the game + an amiibo being the grand prize on offer..

Here's the schedule for the various activities:

1 p.m. PT – It's Party Time

- Join us on Twitter to see if you can answer our quiz questions about Mario Party 10! Include #SweepsEntry and our designated hashtag with your answer to be eligible to win our "mystery" prize. We'll retweet the correct answers from you at the end of the hour.
- Learn interesting Mario Party 10 and Super Mario amiibo series Fun Facts in our Mario Party 10 Facebook photo album. Don't forget to share with your friends!

2 p.m. PT – Guess Who is Coming to our Party?

- Hint: He says "MUAHAHAHA" a lot and likes to stand on poorly constructed bridges over pits of molten lava.
- Update your Twitter profile picture to the special guest's command and tweet us @NintendoAmerica with #SweepsEntry and our designated hashtag to be eligible to win our "mystery" prize.

3:30 p.m. PT – Favorite Mario Party memory

- Share your favorite Mario Party memory with us on Twitter through photos, videos or tweets/comments. We'll keep the party going by retweeting some of you Mario Party animals!
- Answer our questions on Twitter with #SweepsEntry and our designated hashtag to be eligible to win our "mystery" prize.

5 p.m. PT – End

- We will finish off our Virtual Launch Party with our grand prize winner drawings. Five winners will be randomly selected and we will Direct Message them on Twitter during this hour.

- You must use #SweepsEntry and our designated hashtag (announced at 1 p.m. PT on March 18).

We certainly think a live video stream would be a bit more entertaining than Twitter sweepstakes, but we're sure Nintendo's social networking masters in North America enjoy success with these promotions.

Will you be taking part, or do you want a 'Virtual Launch Party' to take a different form?