|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Hudson Soft||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 29, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 - 4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Maria Montoro
Feb. 24, 2007 - Let the party start! Mario Party 8 finally arrived, and it's been a long, long wait! Well, it wasn't that long, but long enough for some of us who put away the GameCube after making the Wii part of our home. When people thought of the Wii and its innovative controls, one of the games that first came to mind was Mario Party. After the great delivery Nintendo gave us with Wario Ware: Smooth Moves, we couldn't help but want more.
This time around, Mario and friends have been sent to the Star Carnival. The main menu is composed by a set of colorful and detailed tents that house different game modes and other surprises. Mountains and blue skies with cotton-like clouds decorate the background, and balloons fly all over the sky; looks like a party to me! New guests have been invited this year: Blooper (the squid), Dry Bones, and Hammer Bro. have made their appearance. You've seen the rest in previous installments and you'll be glad they're back! - Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Toad, Toadette, Wario, Waluigi, Peach, Daisy, Boo, and Birdo - It wouldn't be the same without them! Which one is your favorite?
Mario Party 8 offers innovation, although maybe not as much as we could have hoped for. Six new boards have been designed; each one of them presents different goals, most of which we have never seen before. Now it's not just about landing in the tile where the star awaits, grabbing the star, and collecting more of them to come out the winner. For example, in Koopa's Tycoon Town your goal will be to own real estate. By investing coins in the different hotels you go by, you'll become the owner. However, if your opponent/s end up investing more on it, they'll steal it and become the new landlords. Owning a hotel gives you one star, and if 20 coins have been invested, the hotel will become a two-star hotel and the holder will not have one but two stars. The goal is to collect four stars as soon as you can. There will be a lot of back and forth going on; this new kind of gameplay is really fun. In Goomba's Booty Boardwalk, the board is not a loop but a straight line. When playing a duel battle, the goal is to reach the end and receive a star from Captain Goomba. However, if you don't have 50 coins by the time you get there, you'll be sent back to the beginning so you can keep collecting money. It's easy to get back to the captain, as long as you take advantage of the numerous rides along the way. Dolphins will bring you closer to the goal for a small (sometimes large!) fee. King Boo's Haunted Hideaway board is quite mysterious. You won't have access to a clear and revealing map of the board. Instead, you'll discover its different portions and rooms as you visit them. You'll have to somehow find the room where King Boo awaits; he's willing to give you a star, if you have ten coins for him. Pitfall rooms look almost the same as the two special rooms that hide King Boo, so plenty of times you'll end up rolling back to the beginning in search for new paths.
Not only do the boards have different goals, but they also vary depending on what battle mode you chose. The standard one that we all know is Battle Royale, where four characters face off in the competition. Tag Battle offers the opportunity to create two teams of two players; it's always fun to have a comrade! In Duel Battle, only two players will compete - it could be you and your friend, or you can just play against the CPU. The gameplay rules are customizable. You can select just simple minigames or include them all, view the CPU characters play their minigames or not. You can give that little someone an extra boost so they have a chance to win, decide to only play 10 turns or select more if you're hungry for Mario Party, turn the bonus stars feature on or off, etc. The bonus stars are given at the end of the game to even things out, or they could even turn the results upside down!
The minigames that are played at the end of each turn are, of course, the soul of the party. Many of them have been carefully designed, and use the Wii motion controls in very innovative and fun ways. I loved the one where you quickly pump up and down with the Wii-mote to move your cart to the end of the tunnel. I also loved the one where you throw a lasso to grab spinning barrels that are worth different amounts of points, or the one that resembles Space Invaders but with a three-dimensional look to it. Other minigames are not quite as fun and they simply use the classic controls (hold the Wii-mote vertically and use the D-pad to move the character and buttons (1), (2), or both to jump, kick, etc. Some of those minigames are still fun, but others seem more of an afterthought. Also, it wouldn't be a Mario Party without a little dose of minigames where all that counts is luck; there is one where you get to choose which ropes you want to cut out of eight or nine ropes that are on the screen. The players take turns and one by one clip the ropes holding the A and B buttons at the same time, like if it was a pair of scissors; needless to say, nothing will tell you which ropes are going to launch you into the skies and which ones will do nothing - it's simply a matter of luck. I never liked this kind of game because they don't require skill. Some people do like them because they're not good at minigames and they trust their luck to even things out a little bit. Overall, Mario Party 8 doesn't have the best minigames in the world, but they're fun and keep you entertained, while they accomplish the goal of creating some healthy competition between you and your friends which is, after all, what makes the Mario Party games fun.
You can play the minigames by themselves at the Minigame Tent. Here you won't have to play the boards, but instead you'll be able to arrange battles between you and your friends where the one who wins the most games wins the whole thing. There is also the "Free Play" option where you choose the games you play and the number of wins is not accounted, or the "Tic Tac Drop" where you get to drop balls into a grid every time you win a minigame, hoping to score a three-in-a-row before your friend does. "Test for the Best" is the classic "Decathlon" where you'll play ten minigames and get points according to your performance, and "Flip Out Frenzy" will have you battle for the highest possible number of tiles of your color, which you'll get by winning minigames.