This week is mine and Josh’s first deep dive into a topic we’ve covered on our podcast, Overrated/Underrated. Our podcast is lovingly called “the show where two exes bicker pointlessly about nothing for a half hour” because, well, that’s what it is. Josh and I have individually documented what it’s like to work on this pod together on my blog, and while we’ve had our ups and downs, it’s a great project for us to do together!
I thought it might be fun to go a bit deeper into things that we enjoy and feel strongly about since our pod is only a half hour (and Josh talks for most of it). Once a month, we’re going to pick a topic from the pod and we’re each going to post about something we’d have loved to explore further related to that topic!
Unlike my podcast cohost, Josh of Toasted Muffin Gaming and Toasted Muffin Geekery, I am not the biggest gamer. As a child, I had a PS2 with some Disney-themed games and party games that I enjoyed. Oh, right, and the Eye Toy. That thing was my JAM. I used video games as a way to have fun with others but didn’t get into playing difficult games by myself. In fact, as an adult, I mostly prefer watching Dan play video games rather than playing them myself, especially when he’s playing games with bright colors like the Mario games.
I hadn’t really been introduced to the Mario games until I was in my 20s and played Mario Party 8. Since that introduction, I’ve become well-versed in many of the Mario games: Kart, Party, Galaxy, Odyssey, and Smash. Like other games that I’ve played, I prefer the party games because they allow my friends and I to play together and create some fun competition. As I was only introduced to them very recently, I only have experience playing Mario Party 8, Mario Party 9, and Super Mario Party. However, when I say that I have experience, I have a lot of experience. I approached the Mario Party games like everything else that has moderately brought me joy — meaning I played them so obsessively that I started to hate them.
While Josh and I talked a bit about the different specifics of the different Mario Party games on the pod, today I wanted to talk about the best and worst of each of the Mario Party games that I’ve played.
Mario Party 8
I may be partial to MP8 because it was my first foray into the Mario world, but I really do love it. It might be simpler than Super Mario Party, but the variety of the game boards well makes up for that. This game set the standard for me as far as Mario games (and more specifically Mario Party games), and that is a very high standard to meet!
Mario Party 8 had hands down the best boards of the three games. Even if you completely forget about the Bowser board (which I do — I hate it!), the other 5 boards are still far better than the boards on 9 (so many more, but none as awesome) or Super (far fewer boards, all of which are okay). Between the King Boo board that you cannot see until you start playing, the Koopa Hotel board that is like a more fun, less contentious, faster version of Monopoly, and the train board that rotates cars at every turn, each board is a unique experience and has different strategies and goals. Now that I am well-acquainted with all three of these games, I still go back to experience MP8 again and again. While the graphics are not as sophisticated and the gameplay has fewer bells and whistles, MP8 is undoubtedly a quality classic with a lot of variety and replay value.
Worst…well, nothing…Mario Party 8 is great!
When comparing these three games, I really wracked my brian to come up with something in 8 that is worse than 9 or Super, and I honestly can’t come up with anything! MP8 has its limitations, but none that really take away from gameplay.
Mario Party 9
What a disaster. Between moving around the board in the joint cart, to the subpar game boards, to the boss battles, to the mini stars, MP9 was really not well thought out. And you can’t swing the remote to hit the dice block. Like, what’s up with that?! I was really hard-pressed to find something that MP9 actually did in the past in comparison to 8 and Super.
Best Shy Guy Dance
Was this a consolation prize? Sort of. Did I literally choose Shy Guy as an opponent every time so that I could see him dance? Definitely.
At the end of every mini-game in MP9, all of the characters would strike a pose or do an action corresponding with which place they came in. For example, the character who came in first would strike a victory pose and the character who came in fourth would look distraught. Well, when Shy Guy came in third on any mini-game, he would put his little hands on the sides of his face and shuffle back and forth. It almost made up for all of the horribleness. Almost.
Worst Victory Conditions
On MP8 and SMP, you play for both coins and stars. Stars are the primary currency, and coins are the secondary. These two layers make gameplay more interesting. Like almost everything else on MP9, the creators went completely off the board and decided that players would only compete for “mini-stars” and avoid “mini-ztars” (essentially anti-mini-stars). The mini-stars seem…superfluous. Firstly, while you mainly have to traverse the entire board for stars, you can also just randomly pick them up as you go through the course, no work involved whatsoever. What the hell, Nintendo? STARS USED TO MEAN SOMETHING! Additionally, they make score calculation unnecessarily difficult. Instead of spending the entire game fighting through a grueling game for one or two stars, suddenly your gaining and losing 3, 5, or 10 stars left and right. The bonus mini-stars give another bunch, and now you’re just sitting there unsure of who really won. The final score tabulation should not be a surprise. I want to know that I’m going to win going in, dammit.
Super Mario Party
Super Mario Party does what Mario Party 9 wanted to do, but actually does it right. Super Mario Party tries again to deviate from MP8 by adding all kinds of new features, and it really pulls it off. Between the special dice blocks and the allies, there are several fun ways to make gameplay more interesting.
Best Team Play
Sure, MP8 had team play (where they created a team name based on the characters you were playing — which was pretty cool), but SMP takes team play to the next level. While MP8 team play is essentially exactly like single-player with a joint bank of coins, SMP has made team play completely different from single-player. While you travel along a linear path on single-player, team play is free-moving. This allows for more of a challenge because you are never guaranteed that you will land on the star space. On single-player, you land on the star space by necessity…it is a space, and as you navigate the board, you will land on it. When playing as a team, it’s a complete crap-shoot! Will you make it? Will you land next to it? How can you keep your opponents from getting there before you? I love the extra layer of strategy and the camaraderie that this type of play necessitates.
Worst Board/Game Variety
For all of the awesome new stuff that SMP has, it definitely neglected the basics. While there are different types of play like the river rapids, team play, and the music games, there is a very small variety of different board options. After I played each of the boards a few times, I was pretty bored with them (see what I did there?). Additionally, when playing a round of Mario Party, several of the mini-games would repeat two or three times! This really decreases the replay value when you’re tired of the boards and minigames after one month of (admittedly) obsessive play.
Every Mario Party game offers some unique gameplay and special features. No two play the same, so I highly recommend playing all of them, just to experience all of the different things. Except for MP9, you really don’t have to play MP9. Maybe get it cheap, play it once and re-gift it to someone you hate? Or really, just buy it so that you can see the Shy Guy shuffle. In fact, before we go, let’s see that one last time…
Yeah, that’s the stuff.
To read Josh’s deep dive into the Mario universe, click here!
Photography by my talented fiancé. You can find him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/hope_grows_here/