Mario party 9 is the new party game of Nintendo. It differs from the gameplay from other Mario Party series.
First I will point out the colourful graphics. The graphics themselves are much better than from Mario Party 8, the world is more colourful, inviting and interesting. The music itself is cool, it’s the typical Mario music you would expect from a Mario game.
They have removed the typical board game element, no more rounds and no more star or coin collection, instead they have introduced ‘mini stars’ and ‘mini ztars’ and a vehicle. Mini stars are like points, Mini ztars are like minus points and the vehicle is the thing you and your party will travel with along the path. The whole group of four players or computer(s) sit in a vehicle and when it’s your turn, you’re the captain, meaning you control the vehicle to get to your destination. You toss the dices (rather random) and choose the special dices and in some cases have the right to make the choices in special events. Now this is a typical get from a-to-b path and makes the game pretty short. Perhaps Nintendo was expecting more of a casual type of player here.
On your way you will have to collect as many mini stars as possible and stay away from the dangers, that will cause you to lose mini stars. Ztars makes you lose mini stars, the well known Bowser can make you lose a few or a lot through his many ways. As a captain you have the chance to control the vehicle to end up on a bad platform that will cause the next player to lose his mini starts or to gather Ztars.
Now this sounds simply enough right? But wait there is more. The board itself has the returning question mark spaces with random events happening each time you land on one, as well as the newly introduced ‘Lucky Spots’. If you land on a lucky spot, you either enter a toad house or play a little side game to gain you more stars. There is also a spot with an exclamation mark which will allow the wheel of fortune to spin for you with random events happening.
On your way to reach the goal, the stage is split up by defeating two mini bosses. The mini bosses are mini games where you have to beat the mini boss himself. The best performer gets most mini stars. Sometimes random events happen on the stage or on rolling dice. One of the fields will make you launch on a special track where you have to reach the top of the island. In this the current captain get’s to choose which player can roll his dice first, second third and so on. The outcome is always a mystery. The captain has to choose wisely, because he/she wants to end up him/herself on the goal to get the mini stars and not let any of the other players win.
Every stage has its own theme, out in the park, in a lava crater with always rising lava, being followed by boo’s, there is always something interesting to do.
Of course the traditional mini games make a return. When one of the players end up on a spot, a box appears. This box can either contain a mini game or a new dice (or both).
There are different dices in this game. Normal numbers 1-4, slow dice with numbers 1,0 green dice numbers 1, 2 and 3, purple dice with the numbers 4, 5 and 6, a special dice which ranges from 1 to 10 and a slow going normal dice so you can exactly hit the number you want.
Right before the end of the path, Bowser appears and has to cause some havoc on the board, changing multiple spaces into Bowser spaces. When a player get’s to be so unlucky to end up on a Bowser space, Bowser comes up with this spinning list of things he will do. You can end up letting him give you a million stars (yeah right), let you play a reversed mini game, you losing half of your stars, or everybody losing stars.
When you reach the end of the path, it’s showdown time on the big boss Bowser himself. This is also a mini game with Bowser as enemy. Once he is defeated, the players will again be rewarded with mini stars. Now it is bonus star time if you have for selected this. Each bonus reward ends up in more mini stars for the player. Then the game ends with the total score, giving the winner a golden star as reward. After each game points are given that you can use in the museum / shop.
Solo game mode has a little story of its own. Big old Bowser stole the Star Constellations from the sky and it is up to you to get them back. Every stage you play, you will be put up against one of Bowsers minions: Kamy Koopa or Shyguy. If they win with the most stars, Bowser wins and you will have to redo the entire stage. The problem is that you have characters in your vehicle (party) that are actually minions of Bowser. So the computer is somehow always better and controls these minions in your vehicle in such way that it seems they are on Bowsers’ side, while they were supposed to be either on their own or at least on your side, which ultimately ends up in making you lose the game.
The problem with this game however, is that most mini games are random. The player doesn’t need any skill other than choosing dices. All you need is (a lot of) luck on your side, as for single player this counts especially in the last levels, which makes it very unfair. It can seem you are first winning but right before the end you lose all your stars because of these captain events.
I myself got frustrated with this game design, making me wonder how Nintendo could release a game like this? Sadly you will have to finish solo mode if you want to unlock all characters and the final stage (for party play). That’s the only reason I would recommend to play solo.
Besides solo and group play there is a section where you can play some mini games longer like Goomba bowling. Me and my friends had a lot of fun with this bowling game where you will have to hit all the Goombas with a Koopa Shell.
You can visit the museum where you can unlock the stars back in the skies or you can unlock additional content like levels, vehicles and other fun stuff.
Mario Party 9 is a fun family game but the randomness of the stages and mini games makes this game part of the less fun games. If you can handle the frustrating parts of the game than Mario Party 9 is worthwhile, but otherwise something new doesn’t always mean something better.
The Game Mistress