Review: Mario Party 5

Some reviews can almost be written before playing the games they're about. If EA releases another Fifa game, you can already tell your reader the new one looks a bit better, plays a bit nicer and has an extra gamemode or two. In a way Mario Party reviews are like that too, every year Nintendo releases an update to their succesful party games series. They improve the game in a few parts but keep it familiar enough to make fans feel right at home. Mario Party 5 is no exception, it has a few more minigames than Mario Party 4, new and improved playing boards but there are no major departures from the series.

Since the first Mario Party, Nintendo has Hudson make a new version of the title every year. The basic idea never changes, you play a board game with four players and try to win as much stars as possible in a set amount of turns. After each turn you play a minigame where you can win coins, which you need to purchase stars. The minigames are all simple exercises in reaction time, timing, speed and your ability to use the Cube (or N64) controller. They can be four player free-for-all, two against two or three against one games, so you'll even have to think a little strategic in places. You already know Mario Party 5 is kind of like an update to the previous party, but does that mean it's not worth buying if you already own a Mario Party title? Find out in this review.



Mario Party games have always been mostly about having fun, graphics never were really important. This new Mario Party is no exception. It looks as sharp and as colourful as you'd expect from a Mario title, but it won't make you proud of your Gamecube. The game uses the graphics pretty effectively though, all the boards have their own theme and all of the minigames are set in a different surrounding. That's about all there is to say about the graphics. It's also all you really need to know about the graphics, because Mario Party probably would still be fun to play if it would be in 2D black and white graphics. If there's any game series that's all about gameplay it's the Mario Party series.


Every year a new Mario Party game is released around Christmas, so you could call Mario Party 5 a Christmas game. The people at Hudson that are responsible for Mario Party's music must think of it as a Christmas game too, because it's filled with bells and chimes and happy melodies. This may be nice if you're playing the game around Christmas time with your family, but Mario Party is fun enough to last untill way after Christmas so the music can get quite annoying. Apart from the music, there are the usual sound effects and the "Woohoo!"'s and "Yaahaa!"'s you're used to in Mario games, but nothing noteworthy. But then again, it's all about the gameplay, right?



One of Mario Party 4's biggest problems was it's slow pace. Playing the minigames was always great fun, but the board game could get a bit tedious. Because the boards were pretty big, a typical turn usually existed of looking were you had to go on the map, checking if you could use one of your items and then walking a few steps. In Mario Party 5 the boards are designed a lot better. They're more varied and less symetrical than the ones in Mario Party 4 and the map is much easier to navigate now. The item shops in Mario Party 4 were also a cause of frustration, in part 5 they're replaced with item capsule dispensers. This means players that want to read all the descriptions of the items in the shops are a thing of the past, every time you pass an capsule dispenser you can only choose between taking a capsule or walking past it.

So the board is improved, the board game itself though is still not as good as the minigames you play after every turn. The minigames are still the only reason to play Mario Party, and they're mostly good enough to make you forget about the slow pace in the board game. There are still quite some button mashing and pure guessing involved, but a lot of the games are completely new and a lot of fun. Highlights this time are "Night light fright", where you have to stop a Chain Chomp from eating you as late as possible, "Leaf Leap", which has you climbing a giant bean stalk and "Hotel Goomba", where you knock Goomba's out of the way to solve Sokoban-style puzzles.



The controls in Mario Party 5 are as simple as they've been in all of Mario's previous Parties. Every minigame has it's own control setup which is explained to you before the game starts. Some of them only require you to bash the A button as fast as you can, but in a lot of them the Control Stick and the A, B, X, Y, L and R buttons are also used. It sounds more complicated than it is, every minigame is designed to be very easy to learn. It does require you to know the position of the buttons sometimes though, which can be a problem for players that are new to the Cube. It also makes it a good game for beginning gamers, since you get to know the controller pretty well if you play often.


In Mario Party games winning or losing doesn't really matter, it's about the fun you and a couple of friends have while playing the game. This means you can play it with just about anybody, but it also means there's not a lot of room for practice and competition. In other words, your fifth Mario Party 5 session will be just as challenging as your fiftieth and your five hundredth session. This and the fact that it doesn't take long to have seen all the minigames can make Mario Party 5 boring after a while. It also means that you can pull the game out whenever anybody wants to play a fun game, regardless of their gaming skills. So Mario Party 5 can last pretty long if you don't mind the randomness of the results in some sessions. If you're tired of the board game, you can always play a set amount of random minigames or play a few rounds of ice hockey or beach volleyball in the bonus mode.


Final Say:

Mario Party 5 is one of the best party games available, even with the flaws it still has after the four previous games. It's the perfect game to whip out on a party with friends, relatives, colleagues or whoever. It's definitely the Mario Party title you'll want to buy if you're new to the series, since it has the most minigames and the best boards of the Cube iterations. If you already have Mario Party 4 you should think twice before buying this one. If you don't play part 4 too much anymore because you're bored of it, chances are Mario Party 5 won't last too long for you too. Are you an avid Mario Party fan and do you still play the fourth game frequently? Then Mario Party 5 is a pretty safe bet, it offers the same as Mario Party 4, with a little bit of extra fun and a little less frustration. You still don't have to buy this game for it's single player modes though, this time they're better than the other Mario Party single player modes but they're still incredibly dull compared to the fun filled multiplayer sessions you can have.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Loads of fun in this one, still has the same problems as number 4 though

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability4
  • Visuals4
  • Audio3
  • Lifespan4
Final Score



Fun with a capitol F
Very accessible


Single player mode still boring
Board game still plays slow

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