Mario Party has been coming each year during the holidays for the past seven years, and while each year has offered a solid experience, for the most part, the games have just been going downhill more and more since Mario Party 3. Progressing through the game simply results in nostalgia, and remembering just how much better the mini-games were back on the N64 installments.
The basic concept of all Mario Party games is an elaborate board game, riddled with traps, teleportation and oddities that all draw from Mario history, locales and characters. There are always four players on the board, and the game takes place over a number of turns ranging from ten to fifty selected before the game starts. The object of the game is to collect as many stars and coins as one can in the allotted time. Each turn, every player rolls a ?dice block? and they move one to ten spaces. For the most part, each spot is a simple blue space or red space, which gives or takes three coins respectively. There are also spaces like the Kid Bowser space, which randomly selects all sorts of annoyances that usually result in players losing their hard-earned stars and coins, the Donkey Kong space, where the beloved monkey appears and helps out the players lucky enough to land on him, the Duel Space, where two players are forced into a one-on-one match, the Microphone Space, where a player wagers their coins to play a special mini-game using the included GCN Mic (which plugs into a memory card slot) and the list goes on. After each roll, all four players compete in a mini-game together, and it could be a free-for-all, a two-on-two or a three-on-one, depending on which spaces the players landed on, and the winner is awarded coins, which they use to purchase stars that are placed along the board. In addition, an enhanced ?Orb? system, a setup that places several orbs across the board, each of which boosts a player?s rolling opportunities for that turn, plants a trap that will harm others, or allows a player to take over a space, is included in Mario Party 7, and adds an element of strategy.
While this setup has remained the basic essence of Mario Party since its birth, it is still fun, and is in no way the core problem. What makes MP7 immensely inferior to Mario Party 1 is that the mini-games just aren?t as good, or as unique. After seven years and literally hundreds of different mini-games, Nintendo is just plain out of ideas, and the ones in MP7 all feel disappointingly similar to other games in concept. All the 2-on-2 games pretty much boil down to having both players moving together, and all the others fall into basic categories as well. MP7?s games just don?t all have the unique charm that was found in Bumper Balls, Mushroom Mix-up or Slot Car Derby, and every other game from the earlier installments in the series. The thing is that Nintendo is just out of ideas after all these years. That being said let it go on record that Mario Party 7 isn?t a bad game, it is just mediocre compared to the greatness of the early titles. There is one major similarity to past MP games, though; it isn?t fun unless it?s multiplayer.
The MP7?s graphics are pretty much identical to Mario Sunshine, Superstar Baseball, Strikers, and every other Gamecube Mario game, meaning they are generally lacking in detail, but clear and effective. The sound effects and music aren?t pretty average as well, though there are some decent songs in some levels.
Mario Party is just an old series and has been stagnant for the past several years. Pretty much the only real options for Nintendo are to make a Mario Party compilation title, wait for the Revolution for the chance for more diverse mini-games, or just continue spewing out increasingly unimpressive games. This game isn?t really too great, and there are other, better four-player multiplayer games on the Cube, and this one just doesn?t stack up to Smash Bros. Melee or Mario Kart Double Dash, and those at least have a shred of single player value. Unless there is a vested interest in this game, it is not really worth getting.