At parties, Plumbers play board games…
Mario Party: Island Tour on 3DS follows the same premise as the previous Mario Party games we’ve all come to know and love over the years as we join Mario and his friends on a colourful virtual game board in a battle to win ultimate first place.
Beginning the game you have the option to start with AI characters, or team together with up to three other people to share the enjoyment, the choice is yours. The game has seven boards to select from to begin with, each giving the players different objectives and with a selected amount of time to play in. As always, the Mario Party franchise has a great range of 80 mini games to participate in with different levels and modes to experience.
The majority of mini games are quick hit rounds, whereby you’re be immersed within a game in less than sixty seconds. Mario Party: Island Tour has a wide variety of mini games to cater for every age audience, enabling players to feel full engaged in the party board experience. However, Mario Party: Island Tour is extremely slow from the moment you begin the game and this is something we’ve come to experience in the Mario Party titles before. Once the game has begun, you’re met with your character, an animated dice which can be thrown using your stylus, followed by a movement on the board, being challenged by an obstruction of some kind or picking up a collectible. Waiting for your turn, once the game has decided who’s turn it is first, can be excessively time consuming. If for instance your player has come last within the throw of the dice, you’ll have to wait it out for everyone to take their turn around the board and you may find yourself twiddling your thumbs for a little while.
The mini games are still the high point and major emphasis of the game. They allow you to experience the various controls of the 3DS, such as the gyroscope in some instances. Some mini games can be a little frustrating, such as Banzai Bill’s Mad Mountain, whereby you can request a massive bullet across the path of ongoing players, sending them back to a previous square. Depending on whether you took to hiding in the cubbyhole to avoid being splattered by the bullet’s ongoing path or you were in the firing line, it will send you back to a previous point. This mini game was a little hit and miss really, because those moments where I was a few squares away from the finishing line, another player or myself would end up activating the bullet and I would be sent back to the previous square, therefore making this particular board tiresomely long.
Also in previous Mario Party games, you had the option to collect stars or coins, but that objective has been given a revamp and it’s first to simply finish the board. The rewards for each of the mini games varies on each of the levels and themes and they all help you to progress through the board quicker. With seven boards and time lengths to choose from on each, Island Tour gives you the option to invest very little time or an exceedingly long time playing the game. If you’re playing alone, you can enjoy Bowser’s Tower, which is a mini game in which you must reach the top of the tower, and time attack, where you can interact with ten mini games and complete them in the fastest time possible.
Experience the mini games and you’re be rewarded with Mario Party points, which can then be used to unlock character capsule toy and memories. Once you’ve unlocked the characters in the collectible section, you’ll have access to a small sound test of that characters voice and the memory bubbles allows you to hear the background music for the various courses within the game.
The main attention of Mario Party: Island Tour focuses itself once again on the mini games to capture their audience, and that experience can be expanded via multiplayer or download play. However, it would have been nice to have online play, which is not available on this title and I think this was a big mistake when trying to appeal to a wider audience. Local game-play gives the player the choice to team up with friends, but unfortunately leaves out the party experience with online players. A shame considering the 3DS supports voice chat and friends list.
Having said that, Mario Party: Island Tour hosts a colourful spectrum of Nintendo’s famous characters and a good balance of boards and cute animations. It’s hard to resist or not be drawn into the Mario Party outershell, oozing with Nintendo goodness. If you’ve come to love the Mario Party franchise on previous platforms and own a 3DS, then you might enjoy the experience of this title with the 3DS functionality of gyroscope, microphone, stylus and motion controls within the game. If however, you’re a little pressed for time, and don’t have the patience of a saint, you may find yourself feeling a little bored at times and have trouble in investing in this new Mario Party experience.