The 'Shroom:Issue III/Review: Mario Party 7
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Reminder: * represents 1 star, + a 1/2 of a star. Ratings are out of 5.
Monty Mole here again, your faithful reviewer for games of Mario’s past and present. For the month of March, I’ll be reviewing the latest-released Mario Party for the Nintendo Gamecube. While we wait for Mario Party 8, here’s my opinion of Mario Party 7.
This being Mario Party, there are no real story elements. That in itself is not a problem. However, this Mario Party sets itself apart from other Mario Parties in its style of execution.
Following the trend from Mario Party 6, the standard 20-Coins-to-a-Star rule has all but been thrown out the window, as just one board incorporates it. That’s one strike. The other boards all have some other quirky way to get Stars, such as riding Chain Chomps to steal stars from opponents (an idea already used in Mario Party 6; that’s two strikes). Also, some are even luck-based, such as having three chests, but only one contains the star. This method was used in Mario Party 3, but here it’s taken to an even more extreme level. Also, the computer AI is as dumb as ever in this incarnation, with the “Normal” AI hardly being so, and only “Brutal” even crossing the threshold of normal human behavior. Although the game is directed to a younger audience, surely even they would not make the same mistakes the computers do. Strike three and this Party is out.
The only saving grace is the mini-games. However, many, almost half, of the mini-games are based on pure luck, and of those precious few that aren’t, they’re usually over too quickly, making them seem more fitted for a WarioWare game.
A “strike four” for this is the inclusion of six Bonus Stars instead of the usual three. However, only three of the six are given out, further raising the amount of luck needed.
The Mario Parties just wouldn’t be the same without the background music, would it? Imagine playing those mini-games in complete silence, and it would get boring fast. While Mario Party 7 does deliver the standard mini-game jingles and music themed for each of the boards, it’s lacking somewhat. After playing about 10 or 15 mini-games, all of which have pretty much the same tune, you’ll probably start to wish it WAS in silence. The boards’ music selections are OK, but nothing too outstanding. The Neon Heights board has arguably one of the coolest background music selections in any Mario Party, however. It alone saves the Sound section from an even lower grade.
No doubt the best part of the game. More animated than Mario Party 4, not as kiddy as Mario Party 5. The boards are more three-dimensional than ever before and the mini-games have plenty of extra background goodies if one pays close enough attention. Indeed, it’s a shame that more of the work put into the graphics wasn’t put into the actual game, as Mario Party 7 has a lot of eye-candy to offer. Even something as simple as throwing an Orb looks cool. The boards themselves are chock-full of graphic avant-garde. Sand billowing in clouds in Pyramid Park, and the flashing lights and signs of Neon Heights. Graphics are at a high point for the Mario Party series.
Replay Value- *+
I suppose you’ll at least want to play it enough to unlock all the mini-games. Perhaps even buy out the Shop if you’re really into it. But sadly, this game lacks the charm that makes you want to come back to it, mostly due to the over-simplified games and the tacked-on extras. You’ll be going through your games one day, find it, say “Oh, this game again.” and promptly throw it back without another thought.
Four words: Not worth the money. Four more words: Worst in the series. This game seriously lacks the charm and appeal of earlier Mario Party games, especially those on the N64. Take the Duel Boards of Mario Party 3. Fun, entertaining, a new idea executed in a good way. Take the Lottery Shop of Mario Party 4. Same deal. Take Mario Party 7 as a whole. Changing the rules that have worked for five past Parties, dumbing down the computers even more (which should in no way be humanly possible), and turning the mini-games, which should be fun and exciting, into boring, slapped-together WarioWare-esque ideas makes for one Party not to remember. Nothing against the WarioWare games, but Mario Party needs a bit more depth to it.
The Mario Party series has always been about skill with a little bit of luck involved. Mario Party 7 inverts that formula. The game will continue to frustrate all but the most hardcore Mario Party fan willing to overlook all these flaws. For the rest of us, our only hope is that Mario Party 8 will bring the series out of the ditch that the last two Parties have dug and back to the glory days of the originals.