Should you book a trip to the Party Islands? Find out in the review
With all the attention going to the new Legend of Zelda and Super Mario game, you might not have noticed that a new Mario Party game has been released, also for the 3DS. Portable Mario Party games have been hit or miss in the past and it seems like they more-often miss than hit. Mario Party has its fans as well as its haters. How did Mario Party: Island Tour fare? Let’s get right into it.
There are multiple modes in Island Tour and are the typical Mario Party game modes, like solo mode or multiplayer mode. There are different goals and objectives for winning on a game board so there, in theory, quite a few “unofficial” game modes. Each game mode tells you how long it should take because Nintendo doesn’t want you getting sick from looking at 3D imaging for too long.
Since the addition of items in the Mario Party series, they have been a mainstay. Island Tour is no different but they aren’t a major part of the game play, unlike in past Mario Parties. Perilous Palace Path is really the only game board that relies heavily on items. The other game boards rely on other gimmicks to win, such as getting by the Bonzai Bill and not getting shot off the map or getting to the finish line in Rocket Road by using the most boosters to multiply the dice roll. Going back to Perilous Palace Path, some of the basic rules have changed slightly such as bonus dice blocks or steps or whatever is unique to that particular game board you happen to be playing on. The boards aren’t really long like they’ve been in the past but they were on home consoles, not handhelds.
Items perform different things like adding more dice value or switching places with another player. There are different challenges on the game boards as well like sneaking by a Chain Chomp for example. There are also bonus mini games, that I mentioned before and it would be in your best interest to win said bonus mini game. It can be the extra dice/steps/booster needed to win. Each space, like in previous games, has something that can happen like a VS mini game or free items.
One of the new modes is the Bowser Tower, which is very similar to Mini Game Island from the original Mario Party. Bowser Tower is the greatest crisis the Party Islands has ever seen and it’s up to you to stop Bowser but what else is new, right? The tower has 30 floors and to advance you play one of two mini games, that you pick. However, Bowser will mess with you with Bowser Penalties along the way. They could be something simple like the character clones that you play the multiplayer mini games against become stronger or you could be forced to play part of the tower again. It would take twice as long if you couldn’t speed up the in-between portion after you beat a floor. Something like that would have been a welcome addition to the regular solo mode but if it isn’t your turn, you gotta watch.
There are boss battles/mini games every five floors and you get to see a couple of old school Koopa Troop members like the Bob-Omb King and Mr. Blizzard from Mario 64. The tower takes about an hour and a half but you can save quite often and then come back and finish. Some of the mini games reminded me of the classic mini games of past Mario games like skateboarding away from fire or platform races. The racing mini games is what makes Mario Party fun. There were quite a few that rely on a ton of luck and that doesn’t take any skill to do.
There is a collection mode as well where you can spend your "Mario Party Points" on things like game board soundtracks and character dialogue/celebration noises. Things like that have been in Mario Party since the start of the series. There is also Streetpass mini games, where you can play games against random people that you happen to walk by. Also, you can hone you skills in Time Attack mode where you can see how fast it takes you to clear ten mini games and if you perform certain things in the mini games, you can shed seconds off your time.
You can also get your friends together in the same room and play using the Download Play mode. However the game doesn’t have online play which I just don’t understand how a game that relies heavily on multiplayer doesn’t have online play. That really hurts the game in the long run, as well as some other things but I will get to that shortly. I guess that the Streetpass mini games make up for the lack of online play but not by much. It would have been interesting to see what Nintendo could have done with an online mini game island or time attack tournament. They could have done something like Fortune Street in terms of online games.
At times it felt like the touch screen was used because it just happened to be attached to the 3DS. I feel that games suffer when things like that or the 3D is just used as a gimmick or just thrown in. Using the touch screen to roll the dice is a perfect example of the touch screen just being there. In comparison, some of the mini games that use the touch screen do an ok job with it like playing a Xylophone or sliding puzzle pieces. The same could be said about the gyro/motion controls. Now, I am not the biggest gyro sensor fan but Mario Party puts it to decent use. One mini game has you turning images to match on-screen images or having you look around for enemies to take pictures of. However, I felt that the Gyro-sensor, as well as the controls at times, needed to be tighter. The gyro took a little getting used to but after awhile, I found it easier to turn to keep Mario from falling.
The lack of online play will hurt the game in the long run but in classic Nintendo fashion, they care more about getting people together to play in the same space rather than playing with people in different places. Shy Guy’s Shuffle City doesn’t even let you play it if you don’t have enough people to play which wouldn’t have been a problem with online play. The level of competition was lacking in my opinion. The Bowser Tower didn’t acknowledge it until you were at floor 20 and beyond. The A.I. didn’t really put up much of a challenge at times, which is abnormal for Mario Party games. It would have been nice to see the A.I get gradually more challenging in the Bowser Tower as well as in the various game boards.It’s reasons like these that I’m giving Mario Party: Island Tour for the 3DS a 7/10, a game that had its moments but could have been better.
Score: 7 / 10