Mario Party 10 Review: Bored Games


Developers: Nd Cube, Nintendo SPD

Publisher: Nintendo

Platform: Wii U

Release Date: March 20

If there was ever a game franchise that has brought siblings, friends and extended family together throughout the years, regardless of skill level or familiarity with gaming, Mario Party might be the finest example. Combining simplicity with creativity, a wondrous assortment of minigames and play modes for solo players and friends alike awaited almost every year, for much of the late 90’s/early 2000’s. Even though market saturation led to some drastic changes, Mario Party seemed to retain a modest charm about itself in each iteration.

Mario Party 10 is the biggest step backwards the series has seen yet.

The journey towards mediocrity begins immediately upon loading up the game, as once the logo splash appears (the one that display game title and art for every video game on 8th-gen consoles) and the disc has finished loading, you’re dumped straight into the main menu. No longer are the days where games would operate under their own theme, or showcase all the playable characters and lands you could enjoy. Nope; Mario Party 10 wants to get you in and out as fast as possible, while stripping player agency at every turn.

That sentiment rings true when opening up the standard Mario Party mode, where players can choose between one of a whopping five different playable boards (the fewest in a console series entry so far). Due to their linear, yet winding design, each map will take roughly 30 to 35 minutes of players’ time. Even if you wanted to slug it out with your friends over what would be 50 turns previously, each course has a definitive end. Characters don’t even get to roll dice anymore to determine turn order; even that is chosen by the computer. Random variance ultimately calls the shots in more ways than it has before.

As was the case in the last console version, Mario Party 10 sees all characters moving in tandem atop one vehicle, with each player captaining its movement for one turn. The goal is to collect as many mini-stars as you can, whether it be through passing star markers on the map, winning them from “Lucky” spaces or by outperforming others in minigames. What was a convention centered around Bowser and Bowser Jr.’s personal thirst for stars in Mario Party 9’s story mode makes its return for unknown reasons.

What we’re left with is a gorgeous hallway simulation, dressed up with bells and whistles to distract you from noticing as such.

It’s a shame, really, because Mario Party 10 really needs a multi-tiered placement system. Without determining winners based on stars and coins (or a similar system), players travel the board only to further their own placement and betterment. There are but few opportunities to interact with other players. Special dice are implemented to avoid what’s on the map ahead of you, not to beat out an opponent to a collectible. You win or lose stars more often than not based on what dice you roll and what other players just happened to roll to get you where you currently are placed. Bonus stars are handed out at the end of a map based off of 2 out of 5 factors, with more variance than what you can control with skill.

Frankly, outside of a colorful aesthetic and busy layouts, the maps of Mario Party 10 are bereft of intriguing gameplay design or structure. The fact that minigames aren’t mandated after each player completes their turn indicates that minigames are an afterthought. Seriously, if players spend too much time not landing on “Vs.” spaces, the game will just “uncover hidden minigames” under a player’s space to keep things going. What we’re left with is a gorgeous hallway simulation, dressed up with bells and whistles to distract you from noticing as such.

Something brand new to Mario Party 10, however, is the novel concept of Bowser Party. One player takes over the GamePad, while others team up against them in a mad dash towards a Power Star at the finish line. Played on one of three slightly-stripped-down maps, players must retain their hearts, while Bowser attempts to steal them in minigames. Players who lose all their hearts will get kicked off the player cart, using their turn to provide their teammates with bonus blocks until their hearts are returned from spaces or bonuses on the map. If all characters lose their hearts, Bowser wins.

It’s great to be Bowser in this mode, as you get the rare chance to play one against the world in a dedicated setting. You’re also in control of this mode’s minigames, using the GamePad capabilities to breathe hot fire at opponents using the mic, spin a wheel of electrical doom, climb up a wall in a tense chase of cat and mouse or squash other players with your gigantic ground pound. What do Bowser’s competitor’s do? Run away from his attacks in 8 out of the 10, and hope that random chance doesn’t aim for you in the other two. Furthermore, the balance of play tips in Bowser’s favor, with rerolls on low dice throws and extra dice as play progresses.

Also, when characters get kicked off the wagon, that extra dice throw means a harder chance of escaping Bowser’s clutches. That means it makes sense to target characters with fewer hearts in minigames, even if it means hurting your friend’s feelings by targetting them and removing them from play. Quite frustrating is it to learn how mundane Bowser’s Party is in Mario Party 10, because it’s the most intuitive and markedly different gameplay experience in theory. Instead, what we’re left with is fun for one at the expense of others. When playing the mode as Bowser against two of my friends, the descriptors they used were thus; “Punishment.” “Lopsided.” “Cruel.”

The simple board game aesthetic (complete with dice rolls comically knocking over character figures) is a sweet touch.

It’s only in amiibo Party where the roots of enchantment that breathed life into past Mario Party games shimmers oh so briefly. Players gather around the GamePad with amiibo figurines and play upon embodiments of an actual board game. Thankfully, series-standard coins and stars rule the mode, with 10 turns to get as many stars as possible. You can even collect amiibo tokens that allow you to switch up segments of the map, providing mix-and-match gameplay that switches on the fly.

Unfortunately, it’s another case of a great idea implemented poorly. Characters must roll their dice by placing their amiibo on the pad section, then lifting to roll. Then you have to use your Wii remote to select which type of dice to use, or which pipe segment to warp, then back to the amiibo if any bonuses are earned. Either a lot of time is spent passing the GamePad around each player, or everyone has to huddle over it in a central location for their turn. Plus, there’s the whole “having to pay $13-14 per amiibo per person” for the mode to be played fairly, as those who just use the Wii remote will miss out on bonus tokens that give substantial advantages to others. The simple board game aesthetic (complete with dice rolls comically knocking over character figures) is a sweet touch, though.

Which brings us to the most important part about Mario Party 10; the collection of minigames themselves. Thankfully, Nintendo delivers again in providing a large collection of different playable scenarios between free-for-all, 2v2 and 1v3 styles of play. Furthermore, the game offers a wide variety of options as to play them, including options in Party Mode to allow or deny certain types of minigames. For young children, Easy-skilled minigames can be set. Those tired of random variance can opt for skilled games only. There are even modes to set up 8-player sets, with 4 friends at a time taking control of a ladder tournament.

While not a debut, Boss Battle minigames offer the best opportunity in Mario Party 10 to invoke tactical play. While players need to focus on scoring more points for their score, getting the final hit often shifts a substantial point balance that can be the deciding factor on who wins. Furthermore, the collective of minigame settings themselves are quite detailed and visually pleasing, a far cry from some of the more barren areas from games past.

Every step made to add fresh experiences to gameplay have been woefully disappointing, with me personally questioning whether there are original ideas left to explore.

That said, the minigames as a whole are just fine in Mario Party 10. They offer what you’ve come to known for decades; jump across platforms, play to the beat, don’t fall off the platform, run away from turrets aiming at your character, be the first to go through a difficult path, bash opponents off the platform. Rare is originality in the minigames individually, mostly offering shiny new coats of familiar gameplay. Some 1v3 games are even unfair in design, with imbalances for both the 1 and the 3, at times. A 10-minute dedicated bonus badminton game played with a friend offered more in terms of thrilling excitement than a fair number of the standard games themselves.

Taking everything into account, including a middle soundtrack and simple sound design, Mario Party 10 feels undercooked. A collection of minigames thrown into a box, ripping away a dedicated solo/story mode and containing past level designs stencilled over by Super Mario 3D World’s game engine. Everything feels like a lesser version of what we knew before, dumbed down in order to rush to market. More than 16 years since the franchise debut, we still don’t have online functionality. Every step made to add fresh experiences to gameplay has been woefully disappointing, with me personally questioning whether there are original ideas left to explore.


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Mario Party 10, at its core, is a husk of its former self. While it is quite pleasant in its presentation, it is aimless in direction, offering a mishmash of inadequate experiments. Most instances usually reserved for involving players in the action are replaced with unnecessary automation. If this is your first time playing a Mario Party game, then you will find mild enjoyment in its variety of minigames. For almost everyone else, all too familiar are their designs, with limited replayability at stake. Nintendo either needs to double their efforts in entries going forward, or shut the party down once and for all.

A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.

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