Article first published as Nintendo Wii Review: Mario Party 9 on Blogcritics.
Long time Mario Party developer, Hudson is no more, finally absorbed by Konami, headquartered in the U.S. in Los Angeles, CA. In a similar mode of consolidation Mario Party 9 is now a product of Nintendo’s in house ND Cube. Though many of the development team came from Hudson, Mario Party 9 is a reboot of sorts. Don’t worry it’s still a virtual board game with your favorite Nintendo mascots and lots of mini-games. In many ways, it feels much more like a real Nintendo game than recent Mario Party games that have felt somewhat like knockoffs.
For those that haven’t yet tried Nintendo’s iconic party series, the premise of all of them, including Mario Party 9 is that Bowser is causing some kind of trouble and all of the Nintendo mascots need to team up to stop him. In Mario Party 9, Bowser and Bowser Jr. have managed to steal all of the Mini Stars with a machine and Mario and his friends need to get them back. There are a couple less friends this time. Mario, Luigi, Princesses Peach and Daisy, Toad, Koopa, Yoshi, Birdo, Wario, Luigi are playable characters with Magikoopa and Shy Guy unlockable.
The most obvious change to the gameplay is the road trip style of movement although, also noticeable, is immediately after starting up the game, the graphics and art style scream first party. Gone is the noticeably poor frame rate and decidedly last-gen look. Instead of each player hitting dice blocks to determine their movements on the board now, all of the players ride together in one of the various vehicles, depending on which of the seven stages you’re playing.
Initially, players will hit dice blocks, by shaking their Wii remote, to determine the order. The highest roller becomes the leader, with the rest taking turns in descending order. Only that turn’s leader will hit a dice block to move the group and as such, can reap rewards or suffer consequences. Each player does need to have their own Wii remote though a good number of the minigames use it in its NES controller format (held sideways.) It is also worth noting, that parties no longer require four players or computer controlled players to round out your group. Games can now be played with as few as two players.
Winning the game is done by collecting the most stars. Stars can be collected and lost on spaces, as the leader or won in one of the 80 or so minigames and each level’s boss and mid-boss fights. Events like landing on a haunted portrait will send a boo casing after you in Boo’s Horror Castle. Whoever is the leader when the Boo catches your magic carpet, will lose stars. Leadership can however offer star bonuses in minigames in addition to the rewards for landing on certain spaces.
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