Mario Party is Actually Really Cool
So if you’ll remember my defense of Mario Party 9, I very, very briefly remarked that the series goes about its gameplay in an interesting way.
In this shorter-than-usual article, I want to share my observations with all of you!
I think Mario Party is a brilliantly-executed game series. These iconic, luck-based free-for-alls not only provide fun experiences that make one consider throat-punching their fellow players, but is also the only game series I can think of that encourages practicing several hard, individual skills to have the best possible chances of coming out on top.
When you think about it, pretty much every Mario Party game is overwhelmingly based on luck. You hit a dice block to move a random number of spaces, without having any way of knowing where you’ll end up, and the various board spaces react to your presence accordingly. You buy Stars to win the game, yes, but getting such an opportunity involves a rollercoaster of high-number rolls and minimal attacks on your coin supply, and there’s no telling how factors like these will play out until they actually happen. There's almost nothing you can do to plan for anything.
Excluding Mario Party 9/10 and maybe some obscure handheld titles that I don’t know a lot about, this luck-based factor carries over into the mini-game selection, by which I mean a mini-game is picked at random after each round.
This is where the interesting part begins. The release of Mario Party: The Top 100 in particular was a significant help in the organization of my thoughts, both in the conceptual sense and in the way the game was executed.
What I mean is this: how do you possibly determine what the best 100 mini-games in all of Mario Party are? I’m fairly certain they didn’t do any kind of ballot, so it would have had to be personal preference by Nintendo, right?
That would make sense, but I still don’t think it’s that simple. If you look at the list of mini-games, you’ll see that there’s a fair balance in the ways that you play them. There’s button-mashers like Pokey Pummel and Triple Jump, games that require a steady hand like Paths Of Peril, puzzle-oriented mini-games like Hotel Goomba, precision-based mini games like Dinger Derby and Night Light Fright, psychological games like Heat Stroke, or simple luck-based games like Bowser’s Big Blast.
These are just a fraction of the many different kinds of mini-games that exist in the Mario Party series. I have reason to believe that the top 100 mini-games, at their core, were selected based on the different skills that are required to play them effectively, and were then subsequently evened out so that each mini-game skill was represented as equally as could be mustered.
For the sake of understanding the kinds of skills I refer to, examples include but aren’t limited to button mashing, hand-eye coordination/reflexes, mind games, teamwork (in the case of 2v2/1v3 mini-games), counting, memorization, rhythm, combat, and many others!
So far, we’ve established that Mario Party is 95% luck, and that mini-games correspond with specific skills that the players can possess. Because everything else is so overwhelmingly luck-dependent, these skills required to win the mini-games become the one factor that the players have any real control over when mounting their assault on first place.
Maybe it’s just me being an absolute nerd, but I just think that’s so cool! A game that’s so beloved, widely played, and well-known is able to build its Party Mode (inarguably the most important mode of all) almost completely around chance, but those who can effectively perform all the individual skills that each mini-game is built upon will have the best chances of coming out on top in the end.
You can’t ultimately choose the mini-games you play, so the most successful players will also be the most well-rounded individuals, and so will be able to play the majority of mini-games effectively as a result. Some people may be exceptionally good at mashing buttons, others may find strength in memorizing patterns, but the more skills you have, the more mini-games you’ll be able to win.
I think what makes that so cool is that the skills aren’t always gaming skills; traits like memorization and rhythm aren’t often key talents found in gamers these days, but they and many other talents just might be what you need to become the best Mario Party-er in the moment!
Do you think this is neat? Tell me what you think!