Anything that can get my buddies and I together for a weekend of vegging out playing video games together is an instant classic for me. There isn’t a series that aims to do this better than the Mario Party series. I have been an avid fan since the beginning when the first Mario Party came out for the Nintendo 64 in 1999. Nintendo has pumped iterations of this franchise out every year and, for the most part, they just get better and better. Every Mario franchise game for the Gamecube whether it is the Kart Series, the Sunshine type game or some Mario sport, has a wondrous use of color and an extremely noticeable attention to detail. This is no different with Mario Party 5. The screen is beautifully splashed with color and the three dimensional graphics are very enjoyable to watch. Polygons are almost impossible to see on smooth surfaces and jaggies are very hard to spot. The environments are very unique and the entire game is filled with graphical variety. Even though the graphics are very well done this isn’t a title that is filled with loads of ‘special effects’ or extreme visual flare. But for the aim of the game the graphics are WAY beyond “just okay.” I played this game with a few friends and they wanted the music off instantly. It may have been a little childish, but I actually enjoyed the music. If you have played the previous iterations of the series, you’ll find that Mario Party 5 has extremely similar musical content. Each of the mini-games has its own little jingle, the different screens all have their own Mario style theme and each of the main games and maps has a unique score. In the end the music may be a little repetitive or on the childish side but I never found it to be annoying. Easy, easy, easy. This game is easy to control. Take a veteran of the game, put them up against someone new and after 10 or 15 minutes, they are equally capable of controlling the game. This is one of the few video game series where it makes no difference whether you can change the control scheme or not. It actually makes sense that you can’t. There are so many mini-games (over 70) with different controls that changing controls would be a nightmare plus the fact that different controls between games is part of what makes the competition fun!
If you’ve never played any of the Mario Party games the general gist of the gameplay is like this: Four players are placed on a board and progress across the board much like a real board game. Each player rolls the dice and lands on a set space, which has some effect on the player(s). After each of the players has finished their turn they all compete in what is called a mini-game. The mini-game is an action-based competition where each of the players competes against each other to win coins/items or prevent some negative effect. The game is played until a set turn limit runs out. At the end of the game the player or team with the most stars and coins wins the game.
Mario Party 5 has 6 game modes: Party Mode, Story Mode, Mini-Game Mode, Super Duel Mode, Bonus Mode and Options Mode. Obviously Options Mode is where you set options like audio and video settings.
Party Mode is the real meat of the game. It is here where you can play with your friends and against the computer to be the “Dream Star.” This gameplay is what makes the Mario Party series classic. The game plays just like stated above, but there are a few differences to veterans of the series. A major change is the way items are handled. You no longer play a game to win items, instead you just pick them up from a capsule station. These capsules can then either be used on yourself or tossed on the board to change a board space to the effect of the item, effectively creating a trap on the board. In the end I personally enjoyed the old way of handling items but the game is still fun with the current system. There are 6 main 3D game boards, each of them loaded with special spaces and board unique events. Unfortunately I don’t think the main boards are as fun as previous iterations of the game. Another difference is in the available playable characters. DK is no longer a playable character because he is now integrated into the board for a new welcome twist to the game. Boo, Toad and Koopa Kid have been added to the list of new playable characters. There are also new types of mini-games. In addition to the standard 4 vs. 4, 3 vs. 1 and 2 vs. 2, there are now the 4 vs. Bowser and improved duel mini-games. Another very welcome change is the addition of 4 vs. 4 mini-games to a team’s party mode game. Now all mini-games played in teams aren’t always 2 vs. 2. The AI can be very challenging if set at hard so playing a game by yourself isn’t as boring as you might think. In the end, I think the combination of the changes and additions to the Mario Party formula make Mario Party 5 just as good or better than any of the previous games in Party Mode.
There are more than 70 total mini-games and most of them aren’t re-processed games from previous Mario Partys. There are enough new and fresh mini-games to warrant this title to anyone who has played previous versions but there are some mini-games missing that I consider classics and that was certainly disappointing.
Story Mode pits a single player against three Koopa Kids on progressive boards. The rules are a little different than Party Mode but very similar. The objective is to reduce all of your opponents to 0. This mode is entertaining if you have no one else to play with.
Mini-Game Mode gives you 6 different ways to challenge your opponent without the main Party Mode board. Free Mode lets you pick a mini-game and challenge your friends. Battle puts you in a mini-game tournament with the challenges decided by a roulette wheel. Circuit puts you and your opponents in a race to the finish line. Advance to the finish line by winning mini-games against your opponents! Decathlon pits players in record type mini-games. Be the highest in most events to win. Mini-game war is a checkers/Othello type game. Finally, Tournament is a bracketed mini-game tournament. Any mini-game mode is a great way to play a quick game against friends without having to dink around with the board or time involved with party mode.
A very new addition to the series: Super Duel mode allows players to spend points earned by playing mini-games on parts of a fighting vehicle. Fight this vehicle against your friends! Build better vehicles! Fight in a tournament! A really great addition to the series.
Finally, Bonus Mode allows the players to compete in completely different games against each other: Card game, Beach Volleyball and Ice Hockey. Each of these is a great diversion from the main game and are all a fun and welcome addition.
So as you can see, Mario Party 5 has a ton of content. All these new great additions and the obvious polish to the Mario Party series make Mario Party 5 even more fun to play than the games before it.Replay Value can’t get much higher for a game. Gather your friends together and play over and over and over again. Challenge your friends and make fun of them when you beat them silly! I guess the boards could probably get a little repetitive. I think great additions to the game would be a randomized space tool (for making the boards different each time) or just more boards. Six is an okay amount, but I would be happier with more. In the end, each of the boards are good and the added bonus mode, super duel mode and mini game modes makes the value and replay value of Mario Party 5 excellent.