Have you ever decided to have a couple of friends over and play a fun party game together on the good ol’ family Nintendo? Well that is usually not the Mario Party franchise. Mario Party is known for destroying once loving friendships with nothing but a few harmless looking stars, however Mario Party 10 can bring those once feuding friends together to unite them against a common enemy, Bowser.
Bring on Bowser
Thinking back on my many memories of the Mario Party franchise, I feel my face curl into a scowl as I think of all the stars that just slipped through my fingers costing me my victory. Yet thinking back on Mario Party 10 leaves me shaking my fist at Nintendo, not my fellow partiers. With Mario Party 10 comes Bowser Party, a mode which allows up to five players rather than the usual four. The fifth player is allowed to control Bowser who is tasked with defeating the other players. The party is defeated once each member loses all their hearts. Hearts can be collected along the board, but they usually do not add up. On average we found party members to have about seven hearts each. Movement in Bowser Party works similar to Mario Party 9, the other four players travel in one vehicle together. Then we introduce big bad Bowser. Bowser can be controlled by a player or the computer. So you might be thinking, “Why are you so mad at Bowser?” Well Bowser always wins. ALWAYS. I have yet to play a game where he does not win, no matter who controls him. While at first this added a new layer of tension and difficulty to the game, after a few games, it's just infuriating. The four party members in the vehicle roll the dice and move accordingly, once all four members have rolled, Bowser rolls four dice in an attempt to catch up with the other party members. If his first roll is unsuccessful at adding up to enough spaces to catch the other members he is allowed to re-roll, and 90% of the time his re-roll is successful in catching the party. Once he catches up to the party a mini-game will commence with Bowser facing off against the other four members. I thought I'd have a fighting chance in these mini-games only to discover they favour Bowser. When he hits you, it's not for one heart, it's often three hearts. THREE HEARTS?! I ONLY HAVE SEVEN! Making it super simple to wipe out party members. Let's say you actually manage to escape Bowsers' grasp and reach the finish line, hold up on your end zone dance because you haven't won yet. At the finish line, Bowser Jr helps dad hide the winning star in one of three enemies. If you pick incorrectly you are bumped back a few spaces and of course Bowser is right behind you. I have yet to beat Bowser, even a week later. I think maybe if you had four real people playing with you rather than the two I had, you may have a better chance at beating him.
Despite the infuriating Bowser mode, Mario Party 10 is actually quite enjoyable. The Amiibo party mode is simplistic yet enjoyable. You can only unlock Amiibo Party if you have amiibos. This is when I learned that amiibos can only hold data for one game title at a time. While this is not the fault of Mario Party but a rather a clever marketing technique by Nintendo, it was upsetting. I had to erase one of my Smash Brothers amiibos in order to play Amiibo Party mode. Goodbye level 26 Mario, our time together was not long enough. I do not fault the game for this, but just a word of warning to anyone interested in MP and amiibos. I actually had to go out and buy more amiibos because I was unwilling to erase any more of my Smash Brothers ones. In Amiibo Party, up to four players play on a square board. The board is rather small but contains extra fun items like tokens. Tokens can be picked up by your amiibo and can be used to do anything from give the player an extra die or swap a quadrant of the board for a different themed board. Every board is inspired by whichever amiibo you choose to scan in. You play mini-games to earn coins and use coins to buy stars that are placed around the board. This is the only mode where the player must exchange coins for stars. At the end of ten rounds, the player with the most stars wins. Simple. There is one very annoying factor to Amiibo Party, dice rolling. Instead on pressing a button to roll the die, you must tap your amiibo on the gamepad. I don’t understand how this enhances the game whatsoever. Every time my turn came around I had to bend over and tap my amiibo to the gamepad. I’m lazy and by the end of it I had given up and just left the amiibo between my monkey-like toes and would bang in against the out of reach gamepad every time I had to roll.
Then, of course, there is Mario Party mode. Again in Mario Party mode, all four players travel together in one vehicle. I really wish they would do away with this. I miss the freedom and challenge of moving on my own, trying to beat other players to stars like in all Mario Party titles prior to 9. Bowser also exists on these boards but he is caged and must be set free. Bowser is released when all six locks are unlocked. Each lock correlates to a side of the die, once all six are unlocked (by rolling 1 through 6 on the die) he is released and places Bowser spaces upon the board. Players who land on Bowser spaces are usually punished with some form of mini-star punishment. Having them taken away or given to other players. If you are ridiculously unlucky, you will be reduced to one star. Mini-stars are collected around the board and through winning mini-games. The player at the end of the board with the most mini-stars wins.
There are a few extras in Mario Party 10. Mini games such as badminton and jewel drop, fast and easy things to play with another person. The most notable extra is the amiibo bonus. This allows players to scan in their amiibos and earn extra unlocks such as tokens or amiibo bases. Do you fancy yourself a bit of a shutterbug? Well you can take photos in Toad's room. Just place the models and use the gamepad like a camera. Move it around and snap photos which you can post to the Miiverse. Models can be purchased in the in-game shop with Mario Party points or unlocked for free by scanning in your amiibos. Points are earned just by playing through the different modes. I didn't really see much point to the photos but hey, to each their own. There are some useful things that can be purchased with points including new characters to play with and a new COM difficulty level for the more hardcore partiers.
There is a lot packed into this party game. I was pleasantly surprised by Mario Party 10. I expected another disaster after learning of its similarities to 9, however they have added enough to make 10 rather enjoyable even through the Bowser love. This game is definitely about having fun and if you like party games, this is definitely worth breaking out when your friends come by. I'd rather be playing Mario Party 7 but who still has their GameCube? Besides we must keep moving forward, so skip MP 9 and go straight to Mario Party 10.