Mario Throws a Party on Wii

Last Tuesday, Nintendo released its latest installment in the Mario Party series, ‘Mario Party 8’ for the Wii. With the Wii’s enhanced graphics and innovative remote feature, Nintendo attempts to make ‘Mario Party 8’ new and exciting for its fans, especially with more creative mini-games and new characters. However, they fail miserably in successfully changing ‘Mario Party.’
With a new version every year since the first title was released, the game has never had a significant development cycle and the weight of eight years of rehashing is too obvious.
The reason it keeps selling is that the barely-changing formula is still fun. Nintendo implements 60 or 70 new mini-games each time the game is released.
‘Mario Party’ puts Nintendo’s flagship Mario characters onto a virtual game-board. Nintendo has attempted to make ‘Mario Party 8’ distinct from previous iterations with new characters like ‘Blooper’ and ‘Hammer Bros.’ One to four players then compete, either on teams or every-man-for-himself, by taking turns rolling a virtual dice.
Each turn, players move along the board to reach stars and the player with the most stars at the end wins. Along the way, they collect or lose coins to buy the stars, dodge hazards, rack up items to use against opponents, take shortcuts and occasionally earn a few bonus coins.
Games usually include inflating a balloon by mashing the same button moretimes than your competitor, racing down a hill on snowboards, and, on the more creative end, running along a wide conveyor belt dodging flying objects to see who can outlast the others. This time it’s a bit different because of the Wii remote. These simple button-press games have been tossed out in favor of motion-sensing controls. This might make you think that everything will feel new, but that is not the case.
The game was originally in development for GameCube, but the system’s poor sales severely affected the profitability of new games near the end of its life cycle. Nintendo decided to toss the game over to Wii, correctly forecasting much better sales (at the time of writing, initial figures make it the top selling game of the week with only about three days on the market in most areas).
This move to a different console resulted is a series of mini-games that were never designed with motion controls in mind.
This is painfully obvious when you’re playing racing mini-games that require you to use the Wii remote as a steering wheel. Poor motion-sensors make you careen into walls and other obstacles.
‘Mario Party 8’ has all new game boards and items, several of which are allusions to Nintendo classics. The Donkey Kong Jungle game board is a hybrid of the original arcade Donkey Kong’s simple, ascending criss-crossed platforms and the ‘Donkey Kong Country’ series’ jungle environments.
Although a superficial concern, the graphics speak volumes about the developers’ sloppiness in porting the game. There is no true 16:9 widescreen support in the game except for the title screen and the setup menus.
No progressive scan means lower-resolution, adding another dimension of ‘suck’ to the graphics by making colors seem darker and everything ever-blurrier.
This game has bad GameCube graphics, which means they are twice as bad on the twice-as-powerful Wii.
Veterans of the series should avoid rewarding Nintendo for their eighth, sloppy, copy-and-paste sequel to a franchise badly needing a makeover. Here’s hoping Nintendo rethinks some of the tired mechanics using the Wii’s capabilities for the inevitable ‘Mario Party 9.’
Rating: 3/5