Earlier this week, we dropped in on Nintendo to go hands-on with Mario Party 9 for the Nintendo Wii and see just how the franchise is shaping up for its latest iteration.
Longtime Mario Party fans will no doubt feel right at home, though a few changes have been made to the structure of the game, which for us seems appropriate.
As usual, fans will get to play in Party Mode with up to four players, while Mini-Games (for short sessions) makes for a great option when time is of the essence. There will be 80 new mini-games to play, which include Free Play mode or Extras mode that includes new games such as Goomba Bowling.
After going over a few details about the game, we then got to jump into an actual game against three other competitors. Now, unlike previous iterations of the game, there is no typical game board present. In fact, for our demo, we stepped into a Bob-omb themed stage called “Bob-omb Factory” which as you can imagine, featured all sorts of explosive stuff. The game board doesn’t go in a circle like one would expect, as it actually has a beginning and end. Now obviously, there are multiple routes to take, so not every game will be the same, and there are plenty of obstacles to overcome. The first thing we noticed when starting up a game, is that no longer does each player move by themselves around a board, but rather, the entire group moves about in a vehicle, where each player takes turn rolling a Dice Block to move forward. What we liked about this in particular, was that no longer do players who are waiting their turn, feel like they’re simply on standby mode. We didn’t feel bored about waiting for someone else to roll the dice, as it kept the game moving and kept everyone involved. As players move across the stage, they’ll pick up mini-stars (like those found on Super Mario Galaxy), instead of coins or regular stars. Obviously, the player with the most stars at the end of the game wins, but it’s not as easy as simply winning a few games in the process. More on that later.
What also makes these stages unique are boss battles; another new aspect of the franchise. In each map, there is a mid-boss battle, and then a final boss battle at the end. In these battles, all four players will try to work together to bring that boss down, while also trying to keep in mind that each person is trying to get the most points and win. Players get awarded mini-stars dependent on their performance in each battle (and each mini-game for that matter). One of the mid-boss battles we encountered was a showdown against Whomp. In this battle, the four of us were put on a rotating platform that when a particular player ended up in front of Whomp, got flattened. This of course meant that the player could not garner any points, but the other three could jump on Whomp’s back to perform a butt stomp to gain points and lower his health. The strategy of it was that each player selected either a ‘0’ or a ‘1’, which added to the collective pot. After each player picked a number, the platform would rotate according to the overall points, so each player had to think hard about how which number to choose to ensure they didn’t get squashed.
Throughout the stage, we had the chance to pick up more mini-stars, but also tried to avoid purple ones, which reduced our score. Also, given that it was Bob-omb themed, at times, a Bob-omb landed on our vehicle. It would have a counter (set at 10), that would lower each time we moved one square. Whomever was the captain of the vehicle (meaning it was their turn at the time), when it reached zero, would be exploded and lose half of their stars. Talk about a game changer on the standings! We had to chance to play quite a few mini-games which ranged from avoiding bombs on a raft, to catching hoola hoops and trying to spot the most Goombas on the screen. Most mini-games used the control in the classic NES-style format, while a few used motion control. Each game felt pretty unique and truthfully, proved to be pretty fun. You can see how addictive this game can be with a group of friends of any age group.
Our final boss battle had us taking on Wiggler, where each player had to stomp on a part of his back that either lit up purple or pink. Nailing him while pink would garner more points but was also more difficult to produce, especially when everyone was vying for those and stomping on each other. When it was all said and done, we had finished in second place overall and it appeared the game was over. Not so.
After the final battle, the game then awarded bonus stars for achieving certain things during the game which ultimately altered the final standings, pushing us down to third and lifting the last place player to first. It was quite the “oh wow!” moment that came out of nowhere.
Newbies and veterans won’t have any issues picking up this game and giving it a go, when it releases on March 11 and if what we played of the game is any indication, this should be another entertaining and long-lasting version of Mario Party.
We can’t wait to do it again!