It’s strange that a game so strongly marketed towards the casual gamer like "Mario Party 8" (or any of the "Mario Parties") can offer up one of the most hardcore gaming experiences out there.
I speak of the 50-turn game, a true marathon of video/board gaming that only a hardcore gamer could ever really accomplish. It is also a litmus test for two things: How good the Mario Party iteration you’re playing is, and how long you can put up with your friends.
After a 50-turn game of "Mario Party 8" for the Nintendo Wii with a few choice friends, I can tell you that while the new Wii controls and boards add some fun to the game it is far from the best Mario Party outing and still has many of the flaws that have plagued the series from the beginning.
Here’s a breakdown of how things went:
Turns 1-10 - 9 p.m.: Everyone sits down ready to wiggle, waggle, wobble and perform any other ‘w’ action with their Wii controllers. We are all reminded of how the game works as we start. Each player chooses a classic Mario world character to compete for stars on one of six playing boards, each with different rules and goals for star collection, basically a board game on your television. The mini-games are fun and a few of them are actually pretty original. Hey, this is going to be fun.
Turns 10-20 – 10 p.m.: New mini-games are still popping up and my friends seem genuinely competitive — although one of them has figured out the timing on throwing darts, a key component of the game that should be far more random than it is. We’re all very disappointed that the game isn’t in widescreen, instead presenting two bars on either side of the high-def screen. Someone has discovered that if you shake the controller your character will taunt by saying something like "Waluigi number one!" Isn’t that a clever feature…?"
Turns 20-30 – 11 p.m.: Turns seem to be taking longer and the flaws that have plagued the series since its inception really start to nag at us. MC Ballyhoo, the game's host, insists on the rules every turn and thank goodness we don’t have the computer playing or we would have to sit through its turn every time – one of the many reasons to avoid Mario Party’s single player. Waluigi is still number one. Whose brilliant idea was the taunt feature?
Turns 30-40 – 12:30 a.m.: Wait, we’ve played this mini-game before, and my arm is getting tired from flailing my Wii controller. Couldn’t they have come up with a few more creative uses for this thing? Why won’t Waluigi stop?
Turns 40-50 – 1:30 a.m.: Pretty much all of us want it to stop. The collection of stars seems like a slave march and mini-games seem to stretch on for hours. "We’ve played all these mini-games before" someone shouts in horror, but it sounds distant and far away as the only sound anyone can truly hear is "Waluigi number one!" over and over.
Game Ends – 2:30 a.m.: I think we killed my friend who was playing Waluigi but his controller won’t stop taunting us. My other friend is rocking on the floor whispering the word "stars" to himself. I’m pretty sure someone has won but there is no voice acting and I can’t read anymore, so I’m not sure whom.
Of course five hours of any video or board game will probably end with at least one person muttering to himself, but unfortunately "Mario Party 8" has far too many flaws and not enough creativity in its presentation to make up for them.
For a game where the multiplayer is the main draw "Mario Party 8" is just more of the same from a sequel that could have reinvigorated the franchise.
<1b>— Matthew Razak