I have made it no secret that one of my favorite franchises over the Nintendo consoles is the numbered Mario Party installments. After having enjoyed all eight previous installments, Mario and friends are back in an all new installment of the family board game series – Mario Party 9, which is due for launch on the 8th March 2012 in Australia. This release introduces all new game modes, battles against bosses and of course, a sizable cast of playable characters from the Mushroom Kingdom.
The latest addition to the Mario Party series encourages you to think one step ahead of your opponents to collect the most mini stars and defeat Bowser. You see, Bowser and his evil henchmen have stolen all the Mini Stars in the sky, leaving you and your friends to get them all back in order to become the Super Star. All new board game mode “Party Adventure” rewrites the Mario Party rulebook by allowing four people to move through the board in one vehicle. Players take it in turns as Captain of the vehicle by hitting Dice Blocks to move the party forward, hoping to land on lucky spaces. The behicles also help to streamline game play and keep everyone involved in the action. This game mode challenges you to work with and against your rivals to compete in exciting minigames to get the stolen Mini Stars back from Bowser to restore light to the night sky. Personally, while I quite like innovative changes to the gameplay after eight installments, I am a bit hesitant about them moving from what was always a competitive system when with three family members or friends.
The game will feature 80 brand new mini-games, which will have the characters making pizzas, escaping haunted mansions and racing snow mobiles. When playing on a board, the type of space the vehicle lands on determines what type of Mini Game is played. There is however a brand new type of mini-game, Boss Battles where up to four players must put their differences aside and combine their powers to defeat a series of classic Mario boss characters to collect Mini stars, leading to a final showdown with Mario’s nemesis Bowser. Of course, just because you need to work together – this is still a competitive party game so you will be allies and enemies, working to obtain as many Mini Stars as possible depending on your ranking and the amount of damage you have dealt to each boss.
The game will also have new mini game modes which will allow you to play mini games without having to complete a board – ensuring you can always enjoy the action when you like. You and up to three of your friends and/or family can hone your skills at any mini game in Free Play mode, or alternatively you can try your hand at the Extras mode that include Goomba Bowling and the puzzle-based Castle Clearout.
For a game that is several years overdue, I am a little bit worried if these innovations will end up taking away from what made the game series good in the first place, but at the same time may breathe new life to the franchise. Pick it up exclusively on the Nintendo Wii when it is released in early March, and expect a review from me soon after release.