Mario Party is an incredibly polarizing experience full of the highest highs, and the lowest lows.
I can't say I've ever met someone who can say that they truly enjoy the Mario Party franchise. Most of the people that I've asked either respond negatively or has zero interest in the game at all. Yet somehow, whenever my friends and I get together for a game night, we always find that Mario Party makes its way into circulation.
One of the best mini-games, Bowser's Big Blast Screenshot taken from Mario Party 4
For the first couple rounds or so, it doesn't seem all that bad. Each player takes turns rolling a dice block, moving their characters throughout the board, and trying to collect coins and the ever elusive party star. You earn coins by landing on blue spaces and winning mini-games, in which you are supposed to use those coins to purchases stars and items to help you throughout your journey.
However, everything falls apart quickly when you realize how unbalanced the game is.
You see, most video games reward a player for being skillful or strategic in the way they play. Mario Party pours gasoline on that concept and burns it until there is nothing more but ashes.
It doesn't matter how good or bad you are at the game because of the randomness involved. You could be winning every mini-game and have the most stars, only for it all to be taken away from you because of a board event that another player has landed on. I cannot tell you how many times something like this has happened when playing with my friends.
For example, we decided one night it would be a good idea to play Mario Party 6, opting to play a full fifty turns, which takes about four to five hours.
So we are playing it, all getting incredibly competitive and wanting to win because of the glory we knew awaited at the end. I was in last place for a good majority of the game, and my best friend was in first place for almost the entire game. In the last five turns, however, the tide completely turned.
I happened to land on a space aptly named "chance-time", in which the player is given three dice blocks: one for giving, one for receiving, and one to see what is being put up on the line. I ended up getting the best roils possible; swapping all coins and stars with whoever is in first place.
My friend was absolutely livid at this result. The room erupted with shouts of confusion and laughter. He went the entire game with a strong lead and decent items, only to lose it all at the end because of pure luck. I won because of a dice block. It honestly felt incredible to win against him, but I couldn't imagine the anger and frustration he must have felt.
My friends and I playing Mario Party
That's why so many people, including myself, have a love-hate relationship with the game. Essentially, you abdicate control and skill. You can try as hard as you want, but you are never truly in control of anything that happens in this game. Eventually, you learn to let go. Forget all of your conceptions about how video games are played - Mario Party doesn't play by the rules.
There are fundamental flaws in the design of this game because of the randomness - but it's hard to deny that the havoc and insanity is part of the charm. It's a joy to feel the unification of anger and misery between friends all directed towards something that is as uncontrollable and crazy as Mario Party.
There has to be more people out there that love the games rather than hate them, as Nintendo recently released a brand new entry in the series - Super Mario Party for the Nintendo Switch. And you can bet that my friends and I will be having yet another game night featuring this game once Thanksgiving break rolls around.
You know what they say, there ain't no party like a Mario Party.