Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Review: Mario Party: Island Tour (3DS)

For the first time ever, Nintendo has brought the popular Mario Party franchise to the portable 3DS. If you liked the games in the past, you are likely going to feel right at home here.

The main quest feels a bit like an interactive Monopoly game where four players compete against each other to be the first to reach the end. There are seven differently themed boards that players will explore, rolling a set of virtual dice and competing in a variety of mini-game challenges. Winning the challenges (or at least ranking high) will net you some additional items such as the ability to switch positions with other players on the board or sending them back several places on their next turn.

All told, there are 81 different mini-games that you will encounter, but not all at once. The game will require several play-throughs to experience all the games as they are often dolled-out at random and the choices for play boards ensure the game is fresh each time you play. You can play solo against three other computer controlled players, or hook up with your friends to play against them in the same room. Only one copy of the cartridge is required, but sadly Internet play is not an option.

If you tire of the main board game model you can also try out other modes such as Bowser's Tower which sees you advancing (with a friend) up the tower, starting from the bottom and completing various mini-game challenges along the way. There are parts that get repetitive and thankfully there is a "speed up" button (the right trigger). It helps, but it's not the perfect solution here.

The value of this game goes up if you have other players around you to jump-in. Although you can choose to just play the mini-games without the board game element around it, you are likely to tire of them quickly if there isn't context or goals surrounding completing them. You are rewarded with coins that you can use to unlock items in the gallery (characters from the game mostly) that also includes the unique ability to listen to them make their standard sound effects. I found this feature a little odd and yet compelling at the same time.

Mario Party: Island Tour has lost a little of the magic that seemed to be in the first releases of the game way back on the Nintendo 64. Perhaps because it is a different time, or perhaps because we expect more out of Nintendo. It's still a good game, it's polished and packed full of content and has lots of things to keep you happy and busy - if you like this sort of game. If you don't, well it's just not going to be your cup of Mario tea.

- Syd Bolton

The Good:
- Extensive amount of content
- The game takes advantage of virtually all of the 3DS features such as StreetPass and AR cards.

The Bad:
- Feels a little too much like every other Mario Party title
- The 3D elements feel underutilized
- Why must we only play multiplayer with those in the same location? No online play again, Nintendo

Score: 7.5 / 10

Syd Bolton surrounds himself in thousands of classic video games as Canada's top video game collector at the Personal Computer Museum (http://www.pcmuseum.ca/) in Brantford, Ontario, Canada.