The Mario Party series goes back to the N64-era of gaming, and was a cult classic. Back before the days of online gaming prominence, Mario Party was filling living rooms and dorm rooms with fun and frantic gameplay and hours of entertainment. As the series progressed to different platforms, the core game remained the same, but it never really seemed to progress from the traditional roots of the original few games. Mario Party 10 has been touted as the “anniversary” game of the series, so has it finally stepped into the modern era of gaming?
Mario Party 10 has three main game modes: amiibo Party, Bowser Party, and Mario Party. amiibo Mode is one of the touted draws of the game, and in theory, sounds like fun. It also feels most like the classic Mario Party style, before the “cart” days of the later games. amiibo Party has you using an amiibo (our review copy came with the pack in Mario amiibo), your GamePad, and a WiiMote. To roll your dice with your character, you tap the amiibo on the GamePad, and then use the WiiMote to do the mini-games. While the other people playing the game can just use a WiiMote to play, the first player using the amiibo must have a GamePad, amiibo, and WiiMote at all times, even though the GamePad is strictly to roll your dice. At this point, you realize that you need a table in front of you to lay out all of the needed peripherals, and it becomes way too cumbersome.
The amiibo Party mode is fine itself, as the game manages to move at a brisk pace, but having to use a WiiMote, GamePad, and amiibo all at once doesn’t make sense and seems counterproductive, especially when the WiiMote use isn’t motion based, but utilizes the sideways control method. So why exactly can the GamePad not act as an all in one device, and others can just use the WiiMote?
Bowser Party is up next, and was the highlight of the game for me. Although it goes back to the “cart” mechanic for those not playing as Bowser, controlling Bowser with the GamePad is deliciously evil. Players in the cart roll their dice when it’s their turn, and try to advance on the board as quickly as possible. Bowser uses the GamePad, and rolls his dice in order to catch up with the cart. When Bowser does catch up to the cart, the players inside the cart are subjected to a mini-game, in which Bowser tries to take away their hearts and beat them. All of the mini-games are controlled by Bowser using the GamePad, and most of them are a ton of fun with use of the microphone and motion controls. I like the “race to the end” feel this mode offers, and with 3 varied courses to play on, this mode was by far the most fun. The icing on the cake is that you can play this mode against 4 computer controlled characters in the cart, which is still satisfying. One more thing: no WiiMote needed either.
Our third game mode is titled Mario Party, and harks back to the standard “cart” mode of the previous few installments. In your cart, you roll dice and play various mini-games with spots on the map, all while trying to stay alive and outlast the competition. It’s all fine and well if you are a fan of that style of Mario Party, but once again, there is one glaring problem: WiiMote only. That’s right folks, in this mode you cannot even use the GamePad to play the mode at all. You need 4 WiiMotes. At this point I started to think to myself “Should this game have a WiiMote pack in instead of an amiibo?”
Rounding out the games features are a daily amiibo Bonus, which will give you one cool amiibo bonus per day that you can use to customize your in-game amiibo character. Toad’s Room features all the unlockable things in the Mario Party 10, from characters to music to even an interesting photo mode, where you can pose characters in funny positions and take pictures of them. All of the content in Toad’s Room is unlockable with coins you earn in the main game, but it doesn’t really take much effort to earn enough coins to purchase things.
The final mode in the game is Bonus Games. The Bonus Games include some fun diversions, such as Badminton Bash, an interesting match-3 puzzle game called Jewel Drop, Bowser Jr. challenges, and more. There is even a mini-game tournament for up to 8 players, which is a great way to use all those extra controls you have from 8 player Smash Bros. While all of the bonus games are pretty fun, and some like Jewel Drop can be downright addicting, there is a glaring problem: WiiMote use! That’s right, aside from Jewel Drop, all of the bonus games require a WiiMote to play. Now Badminton Bash I could understand because because it probably uses motion controls right? Wrong. The game uses a WiiMote held sideways, and the D-Pad moves the character around. So why in the world can you not just use the GamePad instead of using the WiiMote? There is no real reasoning for this.
The final main issue with the game is purely based on personal preference, but it’s something that most gamers can identify with. I, for one, enjoy the local multiplayer experience, because it’s a lost art. At the same time however, I enjoy having the option of online play because let’s face it, you are not always going to have a house full of people waiting to play. Mario Party 10 features no online feature whatsoever. While I’m not saying that the game should have been built on the principal of online play, in 2015 the option should at the very least be available, even if it’s a single game mode specifically for online play. The lack of any sort of online play is a glaring omission in a modern party game.
Graphically, the game seems to use the Super Mario 3D World engine, and it looks delightful. Boards all have charm and characteristics with nods to Mario franchises and hidden little secrets on the map. Characters look solid, and most of the mini-games have a polished look to them, although the graphics are a bit simplistic. The soundtrack to the game is rock solid as well, with many classic tunes and brand new tunes mixed in together throughout the game.
Mario Party 10 isn’t a bad game, but it’s not a great game that it should have been for the anniversary of the series. At times, it almost feels like the game was originally designed for the Wii with all the WiiMote use in the game, especially when at times it feels very unnecessary. The local multiplayer is still solid, but even then, questionable design choices in controllers you can use hinder the experience. If some online was included in the game, and less emphasis on the WiiMote was apparent, the game could have been solid for solo and group play sessions. As it stands, there is still some fun to be had in Mario Party 10, but there will be some frustrating moments due to strange decisions by Nintendo.