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6/21/2007 01:01:00 PM
Review: Mario Party 8 (Wii)
By Adam Duerson
Mario Party 8 :: Nintendo
Some honesty up front: I had never played a Mario Party title before last week. None. Popular though it is, I’d never jumped on board. Forgive me. But I knew the gist: Video board game incorporates animations and shenanigans ("Thwomp Candy" that lets you squash every opponent you pass!), coupled with mid-play mini-games comparable to what you would find in the Monkey Ball catalog. Fair enough. Monkey Ball is good for a few yucks here and there, so I called my unemployed neighbor friend down for a few rounds of Mario Party. "Just for an hour or so," I promised.
Henry: My apologies for wasting an hour of your life. One hour was surely enough to take in all that Mario Party had to offer. But I’m not quick to judge, so twelve hours later, I have this to report: Mario Party 8 is not much more than a strong example of the deficiencies of the Wii: poor graphics (I swear my GameCube could have done better) and an assumption that gamers will happily devour absolutely anything that incorporates real life motion—even if the point of said game is as simple as rubber stamping pieces of paper, as is the case with one Mario Party 8 mini game. Remember the Power Glove, Nintendo? Substance matters.
For those unfamiliar, Mario Party goes something like this. Using any of 14 different Mario characters, players compete in any of five Mario-themed board games to obtain stars, the means of procuring which vary from game to game. Along the way, you’ll encounter special-powered candies (for use against your opponent), reach mini-games (with coins going to winners) and encounter mystery spots that trigger, say, Donkey Kong to throw you across the board. The means of movement is a 10-sided dice, which you "punch" with your remote and which begs the question: Why am I playing this on a video game in the first place? Does all of this seem confusing? Well, there’s a mildly scary -- and absolutely insane -- cartoon host who’ll explain everything along the way, always SPEAKING LIKE THIS!!! To save you the time, here’s the fast version: Candy Land hosted by an crystal meth-using Muppet.
All of that said, Mario Party certainly knows what the Wii console is meant for: fast multi-play for attention deficient adults. Witness Mario Party’s 65 hyper-active mini-games! And eight more hidden ones to be unlocked! Yeah, well, those 65 games are pretty damn boring, and they take far too much time and effort to get to. And the "extra" games? They’re extras for a reason. They’re like the underwhelming cutting room floor scenes that allow DVD companies to make Free Willy: The Super Extra Rad Director’s Cut Special Version. Of those that I uncovered, the best was a version of table tennis far inferior to the one offered in Wii Play. The worst? Well, imagine how fun it is to compete in cake decorating, grafittiing and sand pouring. I can pour sand and decorate cakes and graffiti on my own time. And it won’t cost me $50.