The Mario Party series was born in 1998 as a videogame variant of the classic game of the goose, where the pawns are the characters of the Mushroom Kingdom and the rivalry between the players is punctuated by many minigames that intersperse each roll of the dice. Starting from 2005, the series also debuts on Nintendo portable consoles, with the discreet Mario Party Advance for GBA and in 2007 with Mario Party DS, released on the double-screen laptop of the same name; in the meantime, on the home console, the brand reaches the ninth chapter.
On January 17, 2014 it will arrive in stores Mario Party: Island Tour, third portable chapter of the series that tries to make space among the numerous titles for hardcore gamers present on 3DS and attract the numerous casual players, thanks to some innovations introduced. Will he succeed? Let's find out together.
Mario Party: Island Tour's story mode is called Bowser's Tower. The evil King of the Koopas has decided to infest the game islands with magical bubbles, capable of taking on the appearance of Mario and his associates. To destroy the infernal bubble-shooting machine, located at the top of the building, you will need to choose one of the nine characters available at the beginning and climb the very high tower to the sound of mini-games and boss challenges.
Each floor of the tower will offer a choice between two mini-games, if you manage to triumph against the bubble clones and win the chosen game, the character will be able to advance level by level until the clash with Bowser.
The artificial intelligence of the opponents will not be an obstacle even at the most advanced levels, unless the game in question requires a dose of luck as well as skill. It is precisely on the distinction between skill and luck that causes the first flaw of Mario Party: Island Tour: if the mini-games based on skill prove to be simple even at the Master level (the highest difficulty, ed), those based on luck tend to favor the CPU a little too much, making the continuation in the tower really complicated. Fortunately, even if you go into Game Over and lose the mini-game, you can repeat it indefinitely until you come out on top, or decide to try the other option.
The mini-games available in Mario Party: Island Tour are more than 80, some of which are fun and able to exploit all the potential of 3DS, from the gyroscope to the touch screen, but most will turn out to be a mere copy of the first ones, re-proposing the same game in a different environment or with different enemies. Little imagination in development by Nd CUBE which fails to guarantee the variety of the first Mario Parties and to carry it on a laptop.
The heart is the board
The real focus of any Mario Party has always been the scoreboards and this has never been more evident than on the Island Tour. The title gives us seven different scoreboards (the last one will be unlocked, ndGuido) each with its own particular rules and different victory conditions:
- Path to the manor it is the most classic and is inspired by the main titles of the series; up to four players will be able to face each other in different mini-games at the beginning of each round and the first to reach the finish line will be the winner. There is no shortage of event boxes, bonuses and penalties that will help to advance or make your character retreat, along with the classic objects of the series that can completely overturn the course of the game.
- Banzai Bill Mountain it is the fastest board and at the same time it also requires a good dose of luck to complete. The die has 5 numbered faces and one representing a Bullet Bill, the players can choose at each shot whether to continue in the open or hide in one of the shelters: in case one of the four gets the bullet, all the players outside the shelters will be brought back. at the beginning of the board (or in the middle in the second part of the game), every three turns there will be a mini-game that will allow you to get bonus steps.
- Stellar Stages it is the longest board and is divided into four rounds, in each section it will be necessary to bring our character to the stage in the pre-established order to get mini-stars; each stage has a different order and can be revolutionized thanks to special boxes, plus bonus mini-stars can be obtained through mini-games. The player with the most mini stars on the last stage wins.
- Rocket Race allows you to accumulate special reactors to whiz to the finish in as few turns as possible, with Sfavillotti ready to give us bonus reactors whenever we re-enter a VS square. Unfortunately, while it seems to be the fastest board, everything is slowed down by some event-squares that will transfer the player to another position, causing several times of loopbacks that will increase the playing time.
- Kamek's magic carpet it is a board without dice divided into two rounds, to win you will need to use numbered cards, obtainable with mini-games, and reach the last box with a precise number. Depending on which door you take at the end of the first round, the second part of the board will be more difficult or less.
- Draw a card with Shy Guy it is the only board that cannot be played in single player and has a minimum of three human players. The aim of the game is not to be left with the Bowser card in hand, and then pass it to the other players through cunning exchanges, all in a "mariozzata" version of the famous card game "The Black Man".
- Bowser's Volcano it is the last board and it works in reverse, you have to take as few steps as possible and when a player reaches the finish line, the one furthest away will win the game. At each turn, the minigame will establish the order in which the dice are rolled.
The seven boards are fun and diversified from each other but we would have sincerely appreciated the possibility of speeding up the time when it is the turn of the CPU-controlled characters, especially if they face them alone, as the waits prove exhausting and not suitable for the shorter gaming sessions.
The more the better
As per tradition, to fully appreciate Mario Party: Island Tour, you will need to find yourself with at least one other friend simply equipped with 3DS, thanks to the possibility of downloading completely for free, through the Download mode, all the boards and individual minigames of the title. This allows up to four friends to play by buying a single cartridge, getting the best of the title of Nd CUBE Co., although we must admit that we will have appreciated an online mode, unjustified absent in the Island Tour, which allowed distant players to compete on the scoreboards. This absence does nothing but diminish the appeal of the game, reducing the time dedicated to the title to the tests of the scoreboards and to group evenings with other 3DS owners. A wasted opportunity to increase the playability of a title that has to make its way through many big guns even in multiplayer, such as Mario Kart 7, Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Pokémon Versions X and Y.
Furthermore, the almost total absence of extras of any kind, which are simply reduced to the songs of the soundtrack, to an extra character and to the scoreboard we have already talked about, further undermine the longevity factor, leaving Island Tour to a much smaller audience. , both in age and in numerical size.
The appearance of the Island
Technically, Mario Party: Island Tour shows defined polygonal patterns and no frame drops during mini-games; all the title is fluid and does not slow down, whether with 3D active or not.
The songs of the music sector draw both from the old Mario games - for example on the Rocket Race board we will be able to listen to the main theme of Super Mario Galaxy - and completely new songs but not at their peak.
All the texts of the title are translated into other languages and the instructions of the mini-games are accessible to readers of all ages, something that we can now find in all the titles translated and adapted by Nintendo.
Mario Party: Island Tour is currently (or rather, it will be from January 17th) the only Nintendo party game available for 3DS, and for this reason it is recommended only for that slice of casual players who like to spend the evenings in the company of their friends on the sofa with the 3DS in hand.Verdict 6.5 / 10 Roll the dice, I feel lucky Comment Although good under the technical side, there are too many defects of this Mario Party: Island Tour, which will only be able to entertain those who have friends who own 3DS while, due to the absence of an online mode, is bound to bore the lone player. Pros and cons ✓ Just one card is enough to play with friends
✓ Some minigames are really fun ...
✓ Fun in a group x Boring as hell alone
x ... but most are repetitive
x Lack of online mode
x Very few extras