Games for Lunch: Mario Party DS
This review features guest commentary from my friend and co-player Bruce.
0:01 After a few minutes spent trying to find a second working DS (borrowed from Bruce?s fiance, Lauren), it's on to the super-happy fun intro screen!
0:02 Downloading data to the second DS takes up almost all of this minute.
0:03 And we're loaded. Party mode! I suggest tag battle, a two-vs.-two cooperative mode. ?That's cool,? says Bruce. We're Mario and Luigi (?Old buddies? says the game) vs. Wario and Waluigi (?Bad boys?).
0:04 We choose to play on the Toadette's Music Room board, because we are secure in our masculinity. Shut up! I said we're SECURE, damnit!
0:05 Another minute or so spent transferring data and it's time to party!
0:06 Already things seems faster-paced than previous Mario Parties. The Nintendo 64-era 3-D graphics are a little off-putting. I land on a space that gives five coins to me and five to Wario. ?What good friends you are,? the game says. Gag.
0:09 The first mini-game is a simple, isometric, platform-jumping affair with blocks that frequently fade into the darkness. We both fall off pretty quickly. Still, I like the style. The graphics look a lot better in this zoomed out, fixed-camera view.
0:11 Having the map on the top screen is actually very convenient for this game, especially when picking which direction to go on the board. Whoa!
0:13 We dominate on a game that involves placing platforms to get coins. The stylus is used well here, but it's hard to tell what will happen when you bump into the other characters. Everyone keeps getting in my way.
0:14 Stars only cost five coins? And they give away those coins like candy.
0:15 It seems the star cost goes up after the first... 10 for #2, 15 for #3. Still, Wario can easily afford to buy two in one turn, thanks to some lucky rolls and star placement. This is why I hate Mario Party... so much of it is just plain luck.
0:18 ?Raft Riot? is pretty fun -- a super-drifty, super-bouncy racing game. Bruce wins the practice match, but I win the real one. He says he was ?defending the house.? Whatever.
0:19 Wario lands on a Bowser space. ?Gimme equality,? he says, equalizing the coin count for all players (much to our detriment). I knew it...Nintendo is a communist propaganda front.
0:23 Next mini-game is a three-card monte-style follow-the-card challenge, with a Mario twist, of course. The cards move incredibly fast. Seems like something that would fit in Vision Training.
0:25 After the long initial loads, the loading between turns is incredibly fast and barely noticeable.
0:27 A ball-rolling mini-game features some incredibly wonky/jerky stylus controls. It feels more like pushing a heavy block than rolling a ball.
0:28 We get 40 coins for being in last place with five turns to go. Wealth redistribution...more pinko agitprop!
0:29 Just as our team is about to get a star, Waluigi jumps ahead with a big roll to steal it away. ?Stupid cheating game,? points out Bruce.
0:30 Bruce gets challenged to a one-on-one duel with the computer. I get to watch through two practices as the competitors try to escape form a volcano filling with lava (what an easily relatable situation!) Bruce is da winnah! Wait...that was another practice? GRAH! The real match ends in a tie.
0:35 ?Domino alley? asks us to hit the correct button to make it to the next domino. My time spent memorizing SNES-style button layouts years ago pays off with a big win.
0:36 ?He literally jumped in a tube and got the star. We are getting absolutely cheated,? says Bruce, summing up the state of the game quite well as we go down by two stars again. Then, Waluigi gets 10 coins for rolling doubles and uses them to buy ANOTHER star. ARGH!
0:37 Finally some luck...landing on a green space bounces me right next to a star.
0:39 A two-vs.-two game: Each player controls a wing in a side-scrolling, flying, coin-collecting game. Not much teamwork is required...although a bad partner could screw things up, I guess.
0:40 Whoo! Bowser takes a star from the Bad Guys. Does that make him a good guy? ?Wow, we're back in the game, just like that,? say Bruce. ?This game is no less random than any other Mario game.?
0:41 Another one-on-one duel, this time for a star. Hoo boy. ?This is huge,? Bruce points out. It's a rhythm game...but not a traditional one. I have to tap the right button on the touch-screen when a spotlight shines on random beats. There's barely any rhythm to it. Still, I win and suddenly our team is tied with theirs. The crappy random luck finally evens out.
0:47 ?Hedge Honcho? is the least masculine game I've ever seen, especially given the ?honcho? in the name. The game involves sliding around on leaves and rubbing ladybugs off of them. SECURE in our masculinity, I say!
0:51 We lose coins because we don't know what counts as a space on the tiny top-screen map, leading to a wrong decision. Grumble!
0:54 A hammer-throw game involves essentially spinning the stylus on the screen as fast as possible. No real strategy...pure physicality -- like a real hammer throw!
0:55 Bruce gets roped into another one-on-one duel -- over a star. This could well determine the outcome of the game. ?They know I suck,? he says of why he was picked. ?You can do it, Bruce,? I encourage. The game involves circling ghosts and avoiding bombs on the touch-screen. He wins the practice round 20 to 1. ?Guess I won't have to practice again,? Bruce says confidently -- and with good reason...he wins.
0:56 Yet ANOTHER duel...but this time it's for two stars. Bruce is full of confidence. ?Bring it on!? Just as it's about to start, though, the batteries in Bruce's DS run out of power. ?A communication error has occurred. You will now return to the main menu,? says the game. Bruce: ?This game is rigged, and Lauren's Game Boy [sic] did the only sensible thing under those circumstances.?
Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes
Why? Despite the overwhelming luck factor, the game is fast-paced and a blast with buds.
This column was based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
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