Latest Game Reviews

Mario Party DS Review - DS

5.5
Gameplay: 6 stars 6
Graphics: 7 stars 7
Audio: 5 stars 5
Multiplayer: 7 stars 7
Innovation: 4 stars 4
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Introduction

By my reckoning, this must be the tenth Mario Party game to arrive on Australian shores. Tenth. That’s in the space of about eight and a half years. In fact, it’s basically become a yearly tradition, but over time what once was an innovative, original (and palm-blistering) concept has become repetitive and, truth be told, rather stagnant. But this is the first game on the DS! This is an opportunity to capitalise on the two screens, stylus control, microphone input and Wi-Fi networking…right?

Gameplay

If you’ve just been released from incarceration, you may be one of the few people to not know about Mario Party. Basically, it’s a board game, where you hit a spinning dice block at the beginning of each turn to move around a board, landing on different squares and setting traps for your opponents in a race to reach a star square and cash in your coins. Coins are awarded to the winner of the minigames that occur at the end of each turn, with the colours of the square you landed on determining whether you’re teamed with someone else, battling against everyone or playing in a one versus three match. At the end of the game, the person with the most stars and most coins is the winner.

The minigames, of which there are over seventy in Mario Party DS, are the meat of the game, but sadly this is a meat that tastes great the first time you try it, but then gets progressively less enjoyable with each subsequent bite. The system is rigged, in that for the few rounds you play, the roulette that determines which game you will play always falls on the ‘???’ space to unlock a new game. When you still have ‘???’ spots, the game can be exciting, because you know you’re getting a fresh experience. Once you’ve unlocked all the games, however, you just find yourself looking at the available options – some of which seem to reappear a lot more frequently than others – and trying to work out which one you’d actually want to play again.

The single player mode lets you choose one of eight characters and then work your way through each of the boards, following a loose story where you encounter friends in need and all the people in your party leap in to help. Donkey Kong continues his slide into oblivion by appearing only as an NPC, despite being the starring character of a board (along with Wiggler, Toadette and Kamek...see what I mean?). But it’s not enough to simply be the winner of the board game – that was just to see who was strong enough to go on and face the boss. The boss minigames start off simple, but gradually increase in challenge through the five boards. I’d definitely encourage you to practice them until you win them consistently, because the last thing you want to do is slog through the board you just played again and again until you win.

The recurring problem with ...

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