So much for the e-Reader.

Mario Party Advance is the first Mario Party game designed exclusively for use with the GBA. No tricks, no gadgets, no crap. It doesn't even support the wireless adapter. It's just you, a cartridge and a GBA. A handful of friends wouldn't hurt either. This is a party game after all and as well all know, one person doesn't make a party. Unless you're at a restaurant by yourself and the host or hostess refers to you as a party of one. Yes, yes, we know they constantly ignore your imaginary friend but we've all learned that some things are better kept to ourselves.

If the GBA has done one thing, it's made being alone a lot easier to cope with. In fact it's helped turn some kids into anti-social deviants. Actually I don't believe that for a second. I may not be a psychologist but I really believe we are predisposed to certain behavioral patterns. If some kids want to play the GBA, let them - just not all day and night after all we have to be exposed to different experiences throughout our lifetime. But for some of the hours it's no sin to kill time on the GBA. Mario Party Advance allows a person have a party with one. In fact it's better that way. Read on and you'll see.

For a debut game things are off to a rather shaky start. Just about everything related to this game is bland. From the gameplay to the graphics this looks like an old, tired game that might have been released at the debut of the GBA, not during it's Golden Days. Even the concept is hackneyed.

Fashioned after a board game, you must roll the dice and land on square sections that will signify your next series of moves. Some of these squares will present you with coins which you can use to unlock Dr. Gadd's inventions which are challenges in the form of mini games. You will sit through a lot of text while some character rants on and on and on. Some of these mini games don't last any longer than WarioWares games and some of them aren't even as good. Still, it's fun to unlock them and see what they are. Much of the fun of Mario Party Advance comes from anticipation.

You have a limited amount of rolls for each game. Fortunately you can earn more rolls by performing the various challenges correctly. The mini-games vary in context but are relatively easy if you're a teenager. Some of the challenges include spot the differences, math, platforming, memorizing and skillful manipulation of sprites in various situations. The controls are very responsive and it's easy to make a mistake. Although you are only playing against yourself in the single-player mode and it's always your turn, having to scroll through all of the text to play a game over is a real deterrent.

Mini-games that are unlocked can be played in the multi-player mode. There are 50 games in all and it can be fun to challenge your friends in this mini game mode. The main multi-player mode is a big disappointment although I'm sure the developers thought it was a great novelty. Instead of a virtual board game, you will play on a real board. It's a paper poster that comes with the game. The GBA is relegated to rolling the virtual dice - the most expensive die substitute on the planet. This physical board game is loaded with those generic, "Go back three squares" instructions. It makes Snakes and Ladders seem deep in comparison.

The 2D graphics don't do the game any justice and as if to take advantage of the skewed view the developers did very little to bring the characters to life. The entire presentation is flat and uninspired. With the exception of color, this game looks like it was destined for a watch. Time's up. Game over. Good night. Tomorrow's a new day.

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System: GBA
Dev: Hudson Soft
Pub: Nintendo
Release: March 2005
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Fenix