Mario Party: Island Tour

Review: Mario Party: Island Tour

Mario is back, and whilst another party may be the last thing on your mind after New Year, the Mushroom Kingdom is more than ready to put on some red shoes and dance the blues - though this is less a New Year's Party and more of an S-Club Party with lots of colour, lots of crazy mini-games (80, in fact!) and lots of noise.

But you knew that already, as being a Nintendo gamer you've no doubt experienced at least one Mario Party, for better or for worse, so what exactly does this new instalment offer? Well for one, it's on 3DS, so you can take it on the move, and with Download Play, there's a party in your pants and every 3DS owner is invited.

First things first, if you're into classic Mario Party titles you may be in for a shock, but if you've played Mario Party 9 then you'll know what to expect. Traditional Mario Party rules of choosing how many rounds to take and then collecting stars are out the window as the new rules from Mario Party 9, which have more of a Wii Party type feel to them, are put into place.

Instead of collecting stars and coins, it's a mad-dash to the end of the stage, with successful mini-games and the odd special item granting you better or more die to throw. The levels also vary in length, with an estimated time shown on each one, so depending on other commitments you can choose a stage that will roughly last 10 minutes to one that could last up to an hour. Still, Mario Party players of old will no doubt scoff after reminiscing over games lasting 3 hours or so.

Unlike Mario Kart 7 and Mario Party 9, the development team were actually sober when compiling the list of playable characters, so you'll see a bunch of familiar faces, instead of Wiggler and Metal Mario.

So, with the new approach to Mario Party still in place and a good selection of characters, there's one thing left to discuss, the meat of Mario's Party - The boards and the Mini-games. Will this be a delicious steak dinner much like the glory days of Mario Party 4, or will this be a horrible, cocktail sausage-fest, much like the pathetic offerings of Mario Party: Terrible Microphone Edition, also known as Mario Party 6(66)? It tends to lean in both directions.

The mini-games in this 3DS outing are surprisingly good, some of the best and more inventive games we've seen for quite some time, in fact. From traversing a big cube in space and ground-pounding lit squares to victory, to leading an army of Goomba's past spiked plants, to speeding through the sky whilst avoiding angry tiles that spawn up ahead, the mini-games are all genuinely fun and exciting.

These fresh mini-games make a great change to the usual Mario Party mix. Mini-games in recent titles feel as though they were thrown together and rushed out for yet another instalment in the series, yet these mini-games seem to be genuinely full of charm and as though they've been crafted with love and affection. For the most part, they also require some skill, as oppose to the luck based mini-games we've been seeing since Mario Party 6.

The mini-games in question also take full advantage of the 3DS' unique capabilities. Whilst some simply require the Slide-Pad and buttons, others require you to blow into the mic, use the touch-screen or take advantage of the 3DS gyroscopes, handily disabling 3D in the process to avoid that annoying double vision you get from moving the screen. So, the mini-games hark back to the glory days of Mario Party on the N64 but there's one down side, you won't have much time to play them.

Sadly, whilst the mini-games are great, they're hidden within a horrible package. The board-games in Mario Party: Island Tour are so bland, mundane, slow and just generally poor, that you'll really struggle to get yourself from one mini-game to the next.

3DS MarioPartyIslandTour GitAlongGoombaEach board has its own unique rules, one board for example takes place on a cliff-side. You can choose to hide to the side and move along the board slowly, or make a run for it and get ahead of the pack. If you're making a run for the goal, out in the open, there's a chance another player could land on a Bullet Bill switch which will result in old Bill shooting you back a load of spaces. It doesn't sound particularly bad, but it's very slow paced, and completely luck based, and takes up the majority of the game time.

When I played that particular board-game, it lasted around twenty minutes, and in that entire time we genuinely played one mini-game. The ratio of board-game time to mini-games played is absolutely atrocious. This is made worse when even something as simple as rolling the die seems to take an eternity. From its endless bouncing, to your character then shouting the same voice clip, to your person staring blankly at nothing for a few seconds, to the seemingly endless transition from the screen turning black to the next persons icon turning up, everything just feels like time has stood still.

Another board takes place in space, and you're all on a rocket. You can get additional rockets to make you travel further, yet these are also almost 100% completely luck based and again, so much time is spent on the board itself instead of playing actual mini-games, you'll want to pull your hair out.

For some reason, the developers decided to move attention away from the mini-games (you know, those mini-games that are some of the best we've had in 6 instalments) and instead put the focus on the board-game side of things. If the board-games offered any sort of excitement or some pace, that might not be a problem, but nothing exciting happens and pretty much all of the board-game sections require luck and nothing more.

When it's not the board itself that's making you lose the will to live, it's the endless streams of slow moving text. As each board has its own rules, before the game even begins, Toad will start yapping on for what feels like hours about what you should and shouldn't do, even rearing his head once more every now and then to remind you of the rules or to give you tips.

Whilst some aren't as bad as others, none of the boards are fun in any way. They're all just too slow, and lacking in any kind of action, that it completely spoils what could have been a great package. Even if you do start to get into the swing of things, you'll land on an 'event switch' which will just throw you back 10 spaces or swap your position with another player. This adds nothing to the experience and is more of a slap in the face than getting a blue shell on Mario Kart just before the finish line.

And sadly, whilst the mini-games are great, they are just completely tarnished by the board-games they take place in. You'll struggle to get any enjoyment or to see the fun in these great mini-games as you'll still have the bitter taste of mediocrity in your mouth left over from what seems like literal hours of just throwing dice.

Thankfully, there is a silver lining. Whilst the main part of the game is essentially broken, if you delve into the Mini-games only section, you can free-play your way through the 80-something games on offer and enjoy them for what they are, and being a handheld title, that probably would have been the best way to enjoy this instalment of Mario Party anyway, even if the board-games had have been good.

The few additions in the mini-game section such as Time-Attack and Balloon Race, both of which involve you completing a series of mini-games before being heralded Mario Party champion, are better than the entire selection of board-games combined and do redeem this title slightly.

Mario Party: Island Tour is a real tragedy. Whilst it could have been one of the best Mario Party titles for years, it actually ends up being one of the worst in the entire series thanks to the frankly awful board-games on offer. Still, if you're willing to ignore the board-game aspect of the game, then there is some fun to be had here.

With Download-Play, you'll be able to invite all your 3DS friends over for the party, but sadly, they'd probably rather spend the evening smashing their 3DS to smitheries to avoid such a situation.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Mario Party: Island Tour is a real missed opportunity. With some fantastic mini-games hidden within a truly awful package, it seems as though the developers really did just lose sight of what made Mario Party so great in the first place. It's no wonder Donkey Kong no longer attends.

  • Gameplay2
  • Playability2
  • Visuals4
  • Audio2
  • Lifespan1
Final Score



Fantastic mini-games
Great visuals
Download play


Awful boards
Sluggish pace
No online

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