Mario Party (series)
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Mario Party (Japanese: マリオパーティ, Mario Pāti) is a series of party games featuring the characters of the Mario franchise, in which four human- or computer-controlled characters compete in a board game interspersed with minigames. The series is known for its party game elements, including the often-unpredictable multiplayer modes that allow play with up to four (and sometimes eight) human players. The series was created under Nintendo's supervision by Hudson Soft and CAProduction, and was inaugurated on Nintendo 64, where its first game launched in Japan on December 18, 1998, and in the West in early 1999.
Hudson developed all installments until several of its key designers left the company, leading to its eventual disestablishment. After eight entries on home consoles and two on handhelds (as well as three arcade spin-off games developed by Capcom), the ex-Hudson staffers then joined Nd Cube where they developed Wii Party, then restarted production of the Mario Party series, with the new development studio's first installment appearing on Wii in 2012.
Mario Party currently holds the record for the longest-running minigame series in video game history. According to Nintendo's official reports, by December 2014, the various games in the series had sold a cumulative total of 39.6 million copies worldwide.
Mario Party takes the form of a traditional board game which players can play by directing characters on various themed game boards. Playable character rosters generally consist of major Mario franchise characters, including the main protagonist Mario; his brother Luigi; his love interest Princess Peach; his sidekick Yoshi; his antagonists and rivals Wario, Donkey Kong, Waluigi, and Boo; and his friends Toad, Princess Daisy, Toadette, Birdo, and Rosalina, among others. Each game features its own variations on the cast and storyline, with Bowser, the archnemesis of Mario and most of his friends, serving as the main antagonist in most Mario Party titles. There are several modes available for play in each game, each of which provides its own rules and challenges.
Every game in the "main" branch of the Mario Party series has a standard "Party Mode" in which up to four players play through a board, trying to collect as many stars as possible. In every turn, each player rolls (hits) a Dice Block and moves ahead the number of spaces shown (ranging from 1 to 10) to make progress on the board, which usually has branching paths. There are many different types of spaces players can land on, each producing a different effect. On most boards, players earn stars by reaching a Star Space in a random location on the board, and purchasing the star for the specific amount of coins stated (usually 20). Every time the star is purchased, the Star Space moves to one of several predetermined alternate locations, almost always occupying a blue space. In early games, players could also pay a visit to or use items with Boo and have him steal coins or stars from their opponents for 5 or 50 coins respectively. In addition to buying the stars, coins are also necessary to purchase power-up items and to determine the game winner in the event of a tie. Players gain coins by landing on blue spaces or performing well in the minigame played at the end of each turn; and lose them by landing on red spaces or by losing certain minigames.
At the end of each round of play (i.e. after each of the four players have taken their turn), a random minigame commences. The minigames are generally short (about a minute in length), and fairly simple. In most situations, the winner(s) of a minigame receive 10 coins for their victory; sometimes, the loser(s) have to pay the winner(s) a sum of coins. Each Mario Party features any number of minigames (ranging from 50 to 90), divided into several different categories. Four-player minigames include cooperative games, in which all four players collectively win or lose; competitive free-for-alls, in which players must compete against each other in order to win a limited number of coins; and non-competitive free-for-alls, in which players accrue coins independently of one another and one player's loss is not automatically another's gain. Other minigame categories include 2-on-2 games, which place players on teams so that they have to cooperate with others to win (though they still compete against each other in the main game); 1-on-3 games, where a lone player is placed against a team of three, and either the team or the lone player must survive for a certain amount of time while the opposition tries to take them out; and single-player games, which occur when a player lands on a special space and give them the opportunity to earn or lose coins depending on their performance. Playing in these minigame categories often depend on the color of the space players have landed on: for example, if two players land on a blue space and two players land on a red space, a 2-on-2 minigame is initiated. If a player lands on a green space, the game randomly decides where the character color is either blue or red.
Three new types of minigames were introduced in Mario Party 2. Battle games are like the 4-player games, but instead of winners earning ten coins each, each player contributes a randomly selected number of coins. The winner of the game receives approximately 70% of the pot, the second-place finisher receives the other 30%, and a random player occasionally gets coins left over from rounding. Item games allow a single player to take a chance to collect an item, which can be used to further their board strategy. Duel minigames pit two players against each other, with the player that initiates the duel wagering coins or even a star against their opponent; the winner receives all coins or stars wagered. Starting with Mario Party 7, the player no longer chooses the wager in a duel, rather, the duel takes place and the prize to the winner, if any, is randomly determined.
Bowser has taken on varied roles in the gameplay of the Mario Party series. In almost all entries, he can be summoned via a special space of his own, where he tries to steal from the player. Starting in Mario Party 4, he hosts his own minigames, where in addition to rewarding the winning player, he will try to burn the losing players with his fire breath, forcing them to give up coins, items, or even stars. Bowser's minigames originally only appeared in multiplayer format, but starting in Mario Party 7, single-player games of that category began to be featured. His son, Bowser Jr., got his own minigames starting in Mario Party 9, where he challenges two players to compete in a minigame with him. If Bowser Jr. is successfully defeated, the players will each receive five Mini Stars; if not, then he will take five from each player. In Mario Party 10, Bowser became a playable character in a mode all his own, where he, controlled by a fifth player, would challenge the other four players as they progressed through the game by trying to catch them and take away their hit points.
At the end of the game, Bonus Stars are given to the players. In the first six games, there are three Bonus Stars given out. The Coin Star award is given to the player who collected the most coins overall during the game, the Mini-Game Star award is awarded to the player who collected the most coins in mini-games, and the Happening Star award is given to the player who landed on the most "?" spaces. In Mario Party 7, Mario Party 8, and Mario Party DS, the roster of potential Bonus Stars was expanded to six; still, only three would be chosen, and it was random as to which ones got picked. It is common for more than one character to be awarded the same Bonus Star; this happens if there is a tie for the category in question. The person with the most stars after the bonus awarding has concluded is declared the winner. In the event of a tie, the player with the most coins wins, and if two or more players have the same number of both stars and coins, a dice block will be rolled to determine the winner.
Starting in Mario Party 9, the format of the series was overhauled. Instead of trying to collect coins to buy stars, players receive "Mini Stars" if they pass by them. While doing that, players must also try to avoid "Mini Ztars," which deduct their current amount of Mini Stars. Furthermore, Mario Party 9 and Mario Party 10 had all four players moving around together in one vehicle, instead of each player having to wait their turn in a single spot on the board. The number of potential Bonus Stars was reduced to five, and in Mario Party 10 the number of stars that would be chosen was also reduced to two. At the end of each stage, the number of Mini Stars the player collects is converted into "Party Points," which can be used to buy new stages, difficulties, and bonus content.
Most of the handheld installments in the Mario Party series features drastically different rules than their console counterparts, with the exception of Mario Party DS. Mario Party Advance is a more single-player oriented game that takes players through Shroom City and solve various quests with characters, each having their own story arc. Island Tour has characters racing their opponents to the finish line with each board having unique rules and requirements, and Star Rush has characters exploring a non-linear, grid-based layout playing as a generic Toad, collecting Mario franchise characters as they appear on the board and defeating bosses in their special minigames. The Top 100 focuses entirely on minigames, where the board gameplay is secondary, vice versa to other Mario Party games' focuses on board gameplay.
In addition to Party Mode, every Mario Party has a minigame mode in which minigames are played without the board game. Minigame modes vary from game to game, but later games have many different variations. In one such example from Mario Party 5, each player tries to fill a board with as many spaces as possible in his or her color by winning minigames. In Mario Party 6 and onward, there is one game in the minigame mode intended for single-player.
List of games
In addition to its home console and handheld installments, the Mario Party brand has also been licensed into five Japan-only arcade games developed by Capcom:
These games generally feature mini-games from actual entries in the Mario Party series, and can be played by up to six players instead of the normal four.
The Mario Party series features a total of 32 playable characters among its various installments. Below is a list of these characters and which games they are playable in.
Lists of minigames
A major hallmark of the Mario Party series that has contributed greatly to its popularity is its tremendous supply of minigames. In total, 769 minigames have been designed for the various games in the series. Very rarely do the NTSC-US minigame names correspond to the Japanese originals; Nintendo of America's localization team changed most minigame names to use word rhyme, alliteration, puns on English-language phrases, and references to United States and international popular culture.
Mario Party currently holds the record for the longest-running minigame series in video game history. According to Nintendo's official reports, by December 2014, the various games in the series had sold a cumulative total of 39.6 million copies worldwide. On Metacritic, individual installments in the series have aggregate review scores ranging from 54 to 79 out of 100.
Critical reception to the Mario Party series has been mixed to positive, much of the praise for its games going towards the multiplayer modes. While the Nintendo 64 installments garnered generally positive reviews, reception to the following games was more mixed, with reviewers lambasting the lack of changes done to the formula and dull single-player gameplay. Mario Party 9's overhaul of the mechanics received praise from critics, and Super Mario Party is the most critically acclaimed installment since the original, although reception to the Nd Cube installments released between those two has been far more negative.  Gaming magazine Game Informer in particular was infamous for its consistently vitriolic review of the series, as the quote above shows, leading Nintendo of America to send a sarcastic certificate to the magazine's office over its reviews of Mario Party and Mario Party 2.
In Mario Party, certain mini-games required players to rotate the controller's analog stick, including one at the Mini-Game House in which the player is challenged to wind up a mechanical Fly Guy toy. Some players used the palms of their hands, rather than their thumbs, to rotate the analog stick. As a result, they would often endure blisters. In an act of contrition, Nintendo gave away free gaming gloves to the victims of these blisters. Some wore away the stick because it was not very durable. So negative was the response to these mini-games that Nintendo decided to retire analog stick rotation from all of the series' sequels over the next 10+ years. The only exceptions to this rule are "Vicious Vending" from Mario Party 5, where the control stick must be rotated only once to turn a lever; and "Bowser Toss" from Mario Party 3, in which players, when throwing Bowser in a manner similar to Super Mario 64, do not need to use the palm of their hand to move the control stick. Analog stick rotation in minigames returned in Mario Party: Island Tour, where the series was introduced to Nintendo 3DS, which has a control stick that players can spin safely.
In July 2007, Mario Party 8 for Wii was recalled from United Kingdom game stores shortly after its release date. Though Nintendo cited it as the result of a mere assembly error, this allegedly came about because on the board "Shy Guy's Perplex Express," when Kamek utters a magic spell to alter the order of cars on the board, he uses the word "spastic," a term used to refer to an intellectually disabled person. Complaints were raised from consumers because the aforementioned term is considered highly offensive in the United Kingdom. As such, the game was temporarily banned from the UK while the offending word was replaced at code level and the software was reproduced. Mario Party 8 was re-released in August 2007 with "erratic" used instead.