I remember my first day with Mario Party very vividly. A friend of mine and I rented the first game for Nintendo 64 just after it came out, grabbed some slurpees from 7-11 and started playing around 9 AM. At some point, having played all boards and with very sore palms thanks to the Tug of War and winding up Shyguy, we decided it was time to go to bed, not realizing it was 7 AM. So began my love affair with Mario Party. Now, over 15 years later, the 10th edition of the main Mario Party series makes its way to its 4th home console, and adds a few new twists and turns.
Mario Party 10 is developed by Nintendo SPD and Nd Cube and published by Nintendo
Release date: March 20th, 2015
Rated: E for Everyone
Genre: Party / Multiplayer
Consoles: Nintendo Wii U (Also Available bundled with Mario amiibo)
Even as foes, we party together
You’ll remember that Mario Party 9 changed the dynamic of the game, this is the way you play Mario Party mode in 10 as well. All 4 characters travel around one of the 5 gameplay boards together, collecting mini-stars from checkpoints and mini-games. The idea of chasing stars around a board and buying them with collected coins is gone. The games end up less competitive on-board, and it’s weird watching Waluigi and Luigi palling around like best buddies, but the mini-games maintain the rivalries. It should be noted here as well that the main game is played with Wiimotes and not on the Wii U Pro Controller. There aren’t any Bowser spaces on the map this time around, as he actually resides on the Pro Controller screen to start. He’s jailed with six locks representing one for each dice roll. As you roll a unique number, that lock unlocks. Once the 4 players combined roll each face of the six sided die, Bowser is released and will wreak havoc on the person who “freed” him. He will also place Bowser spaces on the remaining parts of the board, all of which operate like the previous game’s spaces (lose mini-stars, etc.)
Like Mario Party 9, there are around 70 mini-games. The way to play them is by landing on a specific spot on the board to do so, they’re no longer an end of turn feature. This does stretch out the longevity of the mini-games, since you don’t play them that often. Interestingly, some of the mini-games require the Nintendo Wii U sensor bar! I literally have not played a game on the Wii U that had mandatory use of the sensor bar, and it was a bit surprising that I had to dig mine out for this.
Each board should take around 30 minutes to play from start to finish, and once you’ve grown tired of the main game, you can still go on and play mini-games in free play mode, or the coin challenge. In the latter mode, you play 7 mini-games against your competition and the winner is the person who obtains the most coins.
Bowser just wants to party too
New to the Mario Party universe is the “Bowser Party” mode, which is the only version of gameplay that has you using your Wii U Pro Controller. In this mode, the 4 “heroes” are being chased by Bowser in one of the playing fields. The purpose of the game is to outrun Bowser and collect the super star. However, if Bowser catches up and eliminates all the players, he gets the star himself and does an odd looking dance in celebration.
Starting at the beginning of the map, the 4 main characters in their car roll as high as they can. Meanwhile, Bowser rolls 4 dice himself to try to catch the players each go. There are no post-roll mini games unless Bowser catches up, in which case you play a game in order to basically stay alive. Mini stars are replaced by hearts, and each player starts with 6 (you can gain more at the halfway checkpoint, and also by playing on-board mini games.)
Here’s how this mode is weighted – If you’re Bowser, you want to catch your foes early (within the first turn if possible) because you want to eliminate somebody early. Eliminating somebody means that they stand off to the side and collect dice blocks for their teammates, but you then have the advantage because you’re still rolling as many die. If you’re the players, you want to distance yourself as much as possible on your first roll. On the Whimsical Waters board especially, it’s very easy to beat Bowser with a strong first roll, as there are a lot of opportunities to collect hearts to fend him off in mini-games if he catches you.
The randomly selected Bowser mini-games range from easy street to brutally unfair. Bowser’s Hammer Slammer, for example, will do little to hurt your party in the long run. However, somebody that’s good at Bowser’s Wicked Wheel can basically wipe your entire team out in a 20 second span even if you have stockpiled 10-12 hearts per player.
The end goal is for one player to make it “alive” to collect the super star, while Bowser must eliminate everybody to win. There are only 10 Bowser mini-games in comparison to the stockpile of others, but you won’t really notice the lack of selection since you may only end up playing one or two of them in an entire Bowser Party game (if you’re lucky.)
amiibo can party too
If you’re a Mario Party traditionalist, the closest you will get to the old style game is through the amiibo party mode. amiibo party is unlocked simply by following the amiibo instructions from the title screen. The amiibo party game takes place on a board based on a scanned character and the characters appear as simple paper cutouts. Boards are much simpler and played over the course of 10 rounds, with the same objective (most purchased/received stars) at the end of the game. One added twist is the use of token powerups, which you obtain throughout and after the game. Tokens can be as simple as swapping boards mid-game, to adding dice rolls and more. It’s not quite as chock full of excitement as the main game boards, but if you’re craving the old style (including rolling to see who goes first,) grab an amiibo and go for it!
By the way, if you have amiibo that aren’t characters in Mario Party 10, you can still use them to unlock amiibo-driven content in-game. You can use any and all amiibo once a day. You can’t use them with the hopes of unlocking more characters, unfortunately. Perhaps there may come a day where Fox McCloud chases stars around the board against the Wii Fit Trainer, but not today.
Something of note here: You don’t need to buy the new “Super Mario” line of amiibo just to make them work in Mario Party 10. If you have amiibo that cross over as characters from Super Smash Bros (like Yoshi or Luigi) you can use those amiibo to read/write data in Mario Party 10 too. However, you will have to reformat the amiibo, meaning you’re going to lose any existing game data. Not being such a fan of this, I did what any logical Yoshi fan would do: I went and bought the new one! Here he is on the right beside his Smash Bros counterpart.
Lastly, if you’re curious which amiibo do what, here’s Nintendo’s master compatibility chart.
The last thing I should tell you about are Mario Party Points, and what you can do with them. Every time you complete anything in Mario Party 10, you receive points which you can use toward unlocking content in-game. Content ranges from unlocking new characters, to photo studio characters and background, and the in-game soundtrack. You should be able to unlock the two missing characters after about 2 or 3 full games, and the rest of the content will probably come after about 10-20 hours of playtime.
Overall, I have to say that while I’m not a big fan of the mechanical changes to the main game, I still enjoyed Mario Party 10 a lot. The minigames are always fun, and the addition of Bowser Party is a hoot. I kind of wish the character selection was a bit bigger (it would’ve been nice to see some of the one-offs like Birdo and Kamek,) but it was pretty fun beating my nemesis Rosalina over and over again. I think that if you feel a bit shunned by the newer style Mario Party is played, you’ll like the amiibo party, and the fact that there’s something for everyone here.
Gameplay: 4 / 5
Graphics: 4 / 5
Sound: 4 / 5
Controls: 4 / 5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 5 / 5
Overall Rating: 4.2 / 5 (84%)
Mario Party 10 is now available for the Nintendo Wii U as a standalone, or bundled with a Mario amiibo.