Mario Party (video game)
North American box art
Mario Party[a] is a party video game developed by Hudson Soft and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 game console. It was released in Japan in December 1998, and in North America and Europe in early 1999. Mario Party is the first installment in the Mario Party series and was followed by Mario Party 2, released in 1999 and 2000 for the same system.
Consisting of 50 minigames, including a hidden single-player one, Mario Party takes the form of a traditional board game, with players taking turns to roll (or, in this case, hit) the dice block and move ahead the number of spaces shown ranging from one to ten. There are many different types of spaces players can land on, each producing a different effect. The primary objective of the game is to collect more stars than any other player. The winner of the game is the player with the most stars after all the turns have been completed.
On some levels there are only one star at a time, while on others there could be many stars at once, appearing randomly on a space on the board where it remains until bought by a player for the specific amount of coins stated (20). After a star is collected, a new one appears on a different space on the game board or stays in the same place depending on the stage chosen. Stars can also be stolen from other players by passing a certain location on the board where a Boo resides—the player must then pay Boo 50 coins for the service of him stealing stars; coin stealing is free.
A secondary objective is to gather coins as well, for they are necessary for buying essential items such as stars and determine the game winner in the event of a tie. Coins are earned by landing on blue spaces or winning mini-games. Coins are lost by landing on red spaces, landing on a Bowser space, or losing certain mini-games.
At the end of each round of play (i.e. after each of the four players have taken their turn) a random mini-game commences. The mini-games are generally short (about a minute in length), and fairly simple. There are 50 of them in total, divided into four different categories:
- 4-player mini-games may be divided into three types:
- The cooperative games, in which all four players collectively win or lose.
- The competitive free-for-alls, in which players must compete against each other in order to win a limited number of coins.
- The non-competitive free-for-alls, in which players accrue coins independently of one another and one player's loss is not automatically another's gain.
- 2-on-2 mini-games place players on teams, so they have to cooperate with others in the minigame to win (even though they're still competing against each other in the main game).
- 1-on-3 mini-games have a trio against a lone player. Often, the game's objective is for either the lone player or the team of three to survive for a certain amount of time while the opposing player/trio tries to take them out. The team of three must cooperate in order to win.
- 1-player mini-games only occur during a round when a player lands on a 1-player mini-game space. They give a single player an opportunity to earn (or lose) coins depending on his or her performance in the mini-game.
At the end of the game, there are 3 bonus stars given out. The coin star award is given to the player who collected the most coins overall during the game, the mini-game star award is awarded to the player who collected the most coins in mini-games, and the player who landed on the most "?" spaces earns the Happening Star. It is common for more than one character to be awarded the same bonus star; this happens if there is a tie for the category in question. The person with the most stars after the bonus awarding has concluded is declared the winner. In the event of a tie, the player with the most coins wins, and if two players have the same number of both stars and coins, a dice block will be rolled to determine the winner.
Mini-games happen at the end of each round or occasionally during a round when a player lands on a Bowser space or One-player mini-game spaces. In most situations, the winner(s) of a mini-game receive 10 coins for their victory. In some mini-games, the losing player(s) have to pay the winner(s) a sum of coins.
The standard mode of play, as described in Gameplay above. Up to four players play a board game interspersed with minigames, trying to collect as many stars as possible by the end of a set number of turns. The coins and stars earned in Adventure Mode are tallied up and transferred to a fund which the player can use to unlock things in the game.
The type of mini-game (4-player, 1 vs. 3 and 2 vs. 2) is determined by what color the players' panels are. If all 4 players have the same color panels, a 4-player game is selected. If there's 1 blue panel, and 3 red panels or vice versa, a 1-vs.-3 game is selected. If there are 2 panels of both colors, a 2-vs.-2 game is selected. If there's a green panel, the color will switch to either red or blue (usually blue) randomly.
A single-player mode in which the player navigates a world map and must win minigames in order to progress across the map. The player starts with three lives. Winning minigames gives the player coins, and a life if the game had never been cleared, and collecting 100 coins also grants the player a life. Losing a minigame causes the player to lose a life. If the player loses all of his or her lives, the game ends, and the player must resume from where he or she last saved. After beating 49 minigames and reaching the goal, a waiting Toad can be found. The player will then be challenged to a game of slot car derby. Once the player wins, Bumper Ball Maze 1 and Bumper Ball Maze 2 (if the player completed all minigames preceding the goal) are unlocked; upon winning 1 and 2 in the mini-game shop, Bumper Ball Maze 3 is unlocked. The Bumper Ball Maze minigames are only playable in the minigame shop.
Mario Party received "favorable" reviews according to the review aggregation website Metacritic. Praise went to the party aspect of the game. However, its most common criticism is its apparent lack of enjoyment without multiplayer. GameSpot said, "The games that are enjoyable to play in multi-player are nowhere near as good in the single player mode. Really, it's that multi-player competitive spark of screaming at and/or cheering for your friends that injects life into these often-simple little games, and without it, they're just simple little games." IGN took a similar line, saying that it was the interaction between players rather than the interaction with the game that made Mario Party fun. Another common criticism was the game's dependence on luck rather than skill, though this was seen by many to add to the game's board game atmosphere, as players who were comfortably in the lead one turn could be losing the next. Electronic Gaming Monthly's authors gave the game individual scores of 8.5, 8.5, 8.5, and 9 each, totaling up to 8.625 out of 10. In Japan, Famitsu gave it a score of two eights, one seven, and one eight, for a total of 31 out of 40.
The popularity of Mario Party has led to nine sequels: Mario Party 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 as well as Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, and Nintendo e-Reader versions. A Mario Party game for arcades, titled Super Mario Fushigi no Korokoro Party, was released in Japan only, making a total of twelve games in ten years, including at least one every year, with the exception of the years 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. Mario Party: Star Rush was released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2016. The latest game in the series, Mario Party: The Top 100, was released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2017. Super Mario Party was released on Nintendo Switch in October 2018. The frequency of the sequels has led to some criticism regarding the games being unoriginal, as many ideas from previous installments of Mario Party have been recycled throughout the series.
In Mario Party, certain minigames required players to rotate the controller's analog stick. Some players reportedly got blisters, friction burns and lacerations from rotating this stick using the palms of their hands instead of using their thumb.
Although no lawsuits were filed, around 90 complaints were received by New York's attorney general's office and Nintendo of America eventually agreed to a settlement, which included providing gloves for anyone who had hurt their hand(s) while playing the game and paying the state's $75,000 legal fees. At the time, providing gloves for the estimated 1.2 million users of the game who might have been affected could have cost Nintendo up to $80 million.
The analog stick rotation has been used sparingly since Mario Party 2. Despite Nintendo's current analog sticks being better suited to play these games than the hard plastic of the N64 controller, Mario Party has not been re-released for the Virtual Console. For the Wii Virtual Console, Nintendo skipped it and instead re-released Mario Party 2, which was later also made available for the Wii U Virtual Console.
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