Release Date: March 20, 2015Platform: Wii UDeveloper: Nd CubePublisher: NintendoGenre: Party
Mario and friends are back for another family game night in Mario Party 10! While the last several games haven’t exactly been up to the same gold standard that defined the series’ roots, Nintendo still has a few new tricks up their sleeve this time around. Now players can take control of Bowser for the very first time using the Wii U GamePad, and Amiibos also join the party in a designation game mode of their own. But do these additions manage to breathe new life into this aging series? Or is it finally time to leave this board game on the shelf in place of something more fun?
Unfortunately for Mario Party 10, one of its main attractions, Bowser Party, falls flat on its face. This mode is basically a sprint to the finish line, with no depth or complexity, and one that is typically over in a handful of uneventful turns. Players roll the dice in order and try to get as far away from Bowser as possible. Bowser then rolls several dice at once and tries to stop them. When Bowser does occasionally manage to catch up to the others players, everyone then competes in a special mini-game. The person playing as Bowser uses the GamePad to attack Mario and friends and deplete their life hearts in order to win the overall mode.
The problem here is that the mini-games in Bowser Party are probably some of the worst and most uninspired I’ve seen in Mario Party’s long history. The GamePad is horribly underutilized throughout the entire game, and on the rare occasion when it does finally come into play, the implementation feels incredibly forced (like shaking the GamePad to roll the dice as Bowser). The nature of these mini-games also makes it pretty difficult to deplete your opponents’ health bars, resulting in an awfully strange imbalance.
The titular Mario Party mode is thankfully more fun, and draws some heavy inspiration from the several iterations of Mario Party on Wii. All players travel around the board together in the same vehicle, and mini-stars are earned from winning mini-games, passing through star gates, and being on the lucky side of many entertaining board events. The biggest draw here is the collection of aggressive boss mini-games, with two unique encounters on each of the five different game boards for a grand total of ten. Mario Party mode and its colorful board types really highlight the graphics in the game, which are nothing short of amazing.
This is also where the game’s collection of mini-games is really allowed to shine. Most mini-games, especially the 4-vs-4 ones, are incredibly fun to play over and over again and they all have a wonderful variety to them. In my time with the game, I shot through the ocean in a squid ship, platformed across several winding snake blocks, and more. There’s even a subtle nod to one of the greatest Mario Party mini-games of all time, Bumper Balls. However, you’ll be forced to use a Wii Remote if you even want to start up a game in Mario Party mode, which just feels like another horrible miss in a game that just doesn’t want to use the tools at its disposal.
Amiibo Party is the closest that Mario Party 10 ever gets to the series’ glory days of old. In this mode which utilizes Nintendo’s new line of figurines, players will go around a simplified game board and compete in mini-games at the end of every turn, earning coins that can be used to purchase coveted stars. The boards themselves will be exclusive to whichever Amiibo character you are playing as, and some of them are really bursting with personality, such as Rosalina’s and Donkey Kong’s. But again, you need the compatible Amiibo toys first before you can even try your hand at this mode.
Finally, Nintendo tacked on a small handful of standalone side games that can be played outside of the main three modes, such as a simple gem-matching one. You earn Mario Party Points from participating in all of these game modes or from completing a list of achievement-like challenges. These points can then be used to purchase various bonuses at the Toad Store, such as new characters, backgrounds, and different car types that the players can travel around the board in.
Sadly, all of these little extras just never seem like enough. My biggest problem with Mario Party 10 is that it never matters whether you actually win or lose in any of the game modes. Everything is essentially already unlocked from the beginning, except for a handful of boss mini-games and aesthetic options, and so there is never anything substantial to work towards. Sure, you’ll see a big “Congratulations” and an animation of your character’s celebrations, but that’s about all that’s in store here.
I’ve been a Mario Party fan from the very beginning, and so it pains me to say that with Mario Party 10, it is finally clear that Nintendo needs to lay this series to rest. And I think that’s okay now. Because what we have here just lacks the heart and inspiration that made the N64 and GameCube games such a blast. Besides a handful of genuinely fun and interesting mini-games, everything else feels incredibly deflated. Bowser Party comes across as gimmicky and mundane, other modes are restricted by Amiibos and controller types, and a clear “everyone’s a winner” mentality strips away any sense of challenge that could have been had here.
So in the words of that incredibly annoying voiceover lady from the very first Mario Party game, Mario Party 10 is an unfortunate “MISS.”