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access_time March 14, 2012 at 12:00 AM in Features by Justin Weinblatt

The Nintendrone Volume 4: The Boys and Girls Club of America Teaches Me The True Meaning of Mario Party

Mario Party is a series that has achieved monumental success with the most basic of formulas.  Many reviews have critiqued the game’s random nature and its simplistic design.  Perhaps, at another time I would have agreed with these criticisms.  However, after spending some time with Nintendo’s latest shindig I left firmly convinced that Mario Party is one of the great franchises in gaming industry.

Last Friday, I was invited to a special event held at the Nintendo World Store in NYC, which should be visited by every Nintendo fan in the New York City area.  At the event, Nintendo was showing off Mario Party 9, the latest entry to the Mario Party franchise.  It’s been about half a decade since Mario’s last party, and it felt great to get back into the game.

I was able to check out several of the new mini-games in Mario Party 9, and I was even given little paper stars for participating.  The games featured in Mario 9 feature a nice variety of motion controlled experiences and button based games.  One of my favorite minigames was a simple Mario Kart style racing game.  Using the Wii-mote as a wheel, I navigated my way around obstacles, rode through speed boosts, and cruised past my competition.

Those paper stars were redeemed for raffles and prizes. I didn’t win 🙁

There are a couple of new game types in Mario Party 9.  Boss battles are a welcome new addition to the franchise.  In these games four players team up to take down massive enemies such as an oversized Blooper.  My three teammates and I barraged the beast with cannonballs, gradually draining his health.  While we struggled with the fearsome squid, we were also competing with each other.  Whoever had the most hits by the end of the game would be declared the winner.  To this end, gamers could sabotage other players by knocking debris towards their opponents.

Another boss battle challenged us to take out a Lakitu.  To do this, I had to navigate through a battleground full of Spiny enemies.  Cannon blocks were scattered through the area.  Activating the cannon blocks blasted Lakitu and earned me points.  Of course, I couldn’t resist the urge to stomp on a few of my fellow players’ heads to make sure they didn’t score more hits than I did.

May not have won the raffle, but I did score one of those Mario Party 9 bags.

There are also Bowser JR challenges which encourage true teamwork.  I only got to play one of these games, which features me and a teammate chasing Bowser JR through a maze.  My teammate and I had to communicate and share information to catch that slippery son of a gun.  It took a couple of attempts, but we got him.

My absolute favorite game was a bowling style minigame.  The minigame controlled similarly to Wii Sports Bowling, but instead of throwing a boring ol’ ball at pins, I was throwing a Koopa shell at Goombas.  The Goombas moved in a zigzagging vertical column, but a well placed throw could take out each and every Goomba in succession.  Managing a strike was difficult, but incredibly satisfying.

I had tons of fun playing the new minigames of Mario Party, but I think I had more fun watching others.  You see, I was not the only person at this event.  I was joined by the fine people at the Boys and Girls Club of America.  As you may or may not know, The Girls and Boys Club of America is a cross generational mentorship programs where Big Brothers/Sisters spend time with Little Brothers/Sisters.  Seeing the two different groups playing together highlighted what makes the Mario Party experience so special.

The Big Siblings and Little Siblings were generally of vastly different skill levels.  Sometimes, there was a Big Brother who had cut his teeth on the NES with a Little Brother who started his gaming life with the Wii.  Other times, there was a Little Sister who was clearly a child of the technological age paired with a Big Sister who looked at the Wii Remote like a piece of alien technology.  Regardless of the difference between the experience levels of the players, Mario Party expertly bridged the skill gap with simplicity.  After a few games, players were competing on equal terms.  They were jumping, racing, bowling, and all having a good time, and that’s the magic of the Mario Party series.   Seeing players of all different ages and experience levels having a blast together shows that the Mario Party franchise offers something unique.  Mario Party is one of the few games that truly accommodates gamers of every skill level.  If you’re looking for a great way to spend time with the family, Mario’s got you covered.

For more information about the Boys and Girls Club of America check out bgca.org.

For more information on Mario Party 9 head over to MarioParty9.com


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