I am going a little bit out of order here, but I thought that the connections this game has with Wii Sports made today a great day to post this article. Mario Party 8 is a party game similar to Wii Sports. Does it have a lot of depth? No. Is it arguably the best Mario Party game? Probably not. Is it even fun? Heck yes! Mario Party 8 excels in it’s simplicity. Obviously Nintendo was infatuated with attracting the casual crowd with the Wii. People were playing video games that had never played video games before, and while Wii Sports was a great introduction to video games, Mario Party 8 provided the next logical step towards more traditional gaming. This was a game that required a little bit more coordination and careful planning, and the mini games always kept players on their toes with fast reflexes and careful timing.
I wrote yesterday that my high school group of friends and I played a lot of Bowling as a part of Wii Sports. However, we eventually got bored of playing the same game over and over again. I use the term “we” loosely, as I felt like I was always up for some casual gaming with friends because I played such a rich and diverse catalogue of games, especially on the Xbox 360 and my portable gaming devices. But my friends eventually got tired of seeing the same animations looped over and over again, and eventually we all got pretty good at Bowling and started to see some of the limitations that came from simple motion controls. So like I said above, Mario Party 8 was the next logical step in our gaming experience.
Mario Party has always been a fantastic couch coop game. Maybe someday soon it will come to the Nintendo Switch with some online components. I am actually posting this article a half hour early so that you can tune in to the Nintendo E3 presentation today at 12:00pm EDT. They might announce something about the future of Mario Party or some of the other great Nintendo franchises. But historically, Mario Party has been about intense competition with close friends. I played Mario Party 2 on the N64 until my palms were bloody. There was one specific mini game that required you to spin the analogue stick, and the most efficient way to do it was to use the palm of your hand and rotate your whole arm. The friction would tear the skin off many players hands. But it was worth the story and worth the competition because we were all using the same method.
Mario Party 8 took the philosophy of casual couch competition that Wii Sports introduced and added Nintendo characters. It was much more fun for my friends to play as Mario or Yoshi than the Mii’s. Everyone loved the Mii’s but the charm wore off quickly. You could even use the Mii characters in Mario Party 8, but why would you do that when you could choose Waluigi. One of the best (or worst) features of the game was the ability to taunt your opponents. At any time you could shake the wiimote and your character would make a noise through the handheld speakers on the controllers. I remember the first time hearing this weird noise and then finally figured out that one of my friends was shaking his controller and the Yoshi’s tongue noise was playing over and over. I like Waluigi because his taunt was a loud and grating “WAHHHHAH.” So good.
I have not forgotten about the mini games. The best of the bunch was the soda shaking mini game that tasked the players to shake the wiimote as fast as possible, because you know. Shaking the wiimote fast is fun…. Needless to say I was really good at that minigame. The game also included a progression system that rewarded coins for every game completed which could be used to unlock new characters, mini games, and collectibles. With the amount of time that I spent playing this game I think that I had everything unlocked.
Here’s to hoping we get another good Mario Party game for the Nintendo Switch later today!
Tomorrow we step back to 2006 and discuss Gears of War.
Jake “prettyboyplaid” Fredericks