Posted Fri 10th Sep 2010 6:49pm by Ashley Martin
Mario Party DS Review
Mario Party DS in 10 seconds
A multiplayer game through and through, Mario Party DS brings bright board game antics to Nintendo’s dual screen handheld.
Mario Party DS is the eleventh entry in the Mario Party series and the second MP title to appear on a handheld system. Despite receiving largely mixed reviews, the game has sold over 5 million copies worldwide.
Mario Party DS is essentially a virtual board game that invites players to collect as many stars as possible in order to become the “superstar” (winner) of the game. In order to gather stars, players must save up coins by landing on blue game spaces, stealing them from rival characters, or beating minigames. As simple as this sounds, the player’s success is often tied to luck, and much like a real board game, there’s a lot resting on the outcome of your next dice roll.
Those familiar with Mario Party will know that the majority of the game’s appeal rests in the multiplayer experience. Since the series launched on the N64, Nintendo fans have been duking it out to see which of their favourite characters has what it takes to achieve superstar status. With that knowledge in tow, it’s a shame that MPDS doesn’t utilise the system’s Wi-Fi capabilities and offer an online mode. Although players can compete against each other through both single-card download and multi-card play, an online mode would prevent the party from grinding to a halt when their friends aren't around.
Although MPDS does feature a “Story Mode”, it’s a relatively short-lived experience and consists of just five game boards. The added boss battles make for an interesting change of pace, but these alone will not pull in anyone who didn’t enjoy previous Mario Party titles. In essence, this is just another Mario Party game, and even touch and mic based minigames don’t do much to set it apart from its home console brethren. That’s not to say this is a particularly bad thing; the core gameplay is still as solid as Bowser’s shell. However, those expecting a fresh spin on the series will likely be disappointed.
Alternatively, those of you lucky enough to have access to “friends”, will find that even gimmicky minigames such as “Gusty Blizzard” and “Short Fuse” soon become hilariously frantic once a few more players are involved. Wildly puffing into the microphone on your own might feel silly, but get a few mates involved and there are definitely laughs to be had. Part of MP’s appeal has always been its pick-up-and-play ethos, and MPDS is certainly no different in this respect. With the ability to play against up to three other people via the single-card download play, even those without the game can join the party.
As expected from a Mario title, Mario Party DS is a cleanly presented game bursting with bright colours. The game combines a mixture of both 2D and 3D visuals, with menus and icons encompassing a hand-drawn feel. Likewise, the story sequences take the form of sharp and well-realised Mario comic strips, while the majority of the
minigames are rendered in 3D. Each game board has its own unique theme (much like in previous games)which range from the floral feel of “Wiggler’s Garden” to the frenzied buzz of “Bowser’s Pinball Machine”.
Tying in with the chirpy and vibrant visuals, the music in MPDS is quirky and carefree throughout. Although some of the in-game tunes can become a little repetitive during long sessions of play, they are frequently broken up by character emotes, warp pipes noises, and other Mario-centric sounds. If you are particularly fond of a specific track, you can listen to it in “Gallery Mode”, but chances are you will get your fill of the game’s many melodies after playing through the story.
Mario Party DS won’t excite those expecting a fresh take on the series, but it offers a solid bout of multiplayer fun nonetheless. While the boss battles provide an extra dimension to solo play, it’s a shame Nintendo couldn’t incorporate an online mode into what is essentially an experience to be shared.
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