Review: Mario Party: The Top 100
Posted 21 Dec 2017 at 10:50 by Dean Anderson
Mario Party is throwing a party in its own honour! And Switch owners aren’t invited! From the original Mario Party on the N64 back in 1998 (1999 for us here in Euroland), to the present day, we have seen 10 mainline console Mario party games, 5 handheld titles (including this one) an arcade game that has so far remained Japan exclusive and a weird, but cool spinoff board game that used the oddball e-Reader accessory for the GBA to mix minigames with a real-life Mario Party board game experience (Mario Party was doing Augmented Reality way before it was cool!).
I have a pretty lengthy history with the series, currently owning every single title in the series to date (not the arcade cabinet though, that would just be mad!), so naturally, I was pretty stoked to see Mario Party: The Top 100 get announced earlier this year! It was literally a dream game of mine, as me and my friends have long pined for a Best-of Mario Party experience that took elements from all of the different games and smooshed them all together into a big celebration of the series…
… pity that it’s only half the Best-of experience we were hoping for…
So near and yet so far...
This package is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a collection of 100 minigames, taken from the 10 console entries in the series and, well, that’s about it! You’re not getting a selection of different classic boards, or any alternate modes outside of different ways of playing minigames. What you see is what you get.
As such, it’s a pretty tricky game for me to review here. On one hand, there isn’t really much to the package as a whole and it makes for a lightweight experience; it’s hard to not find myself thinking what could’ve been, if developer ND CUBE had gone full hog and had remade classic boards that spanned across the whole series. On the other hand, what’s here is actually really quite well done and still a real treat for old school Mario Party fans.
I think they tweaked some bits here and there…
Actually, you know what? Let’s focus on the good parts here. The selection of minigames they’ve gone with is pretty darn solid and while it doesn’t quite match up with my own personal Top 100, I really can’t complain with their selection as a whole (You can check out the full minigame list here if you fancy).
ND CUBE decided to focus most of their attention on the earlier titles and have really managed to pick out a really good selection, really! There’s a nice balance of Free for All minigames, 1V3, 2V2, Duel and Special minigames and just a few (of the best) luck based games; a wise choice, considering the lack of boards that made them so maddeningly fun the first time around. There’s very little to complain about in regard to the minigame line-up, especially since it includes all three of the sports sub-games from Mario Party 4, Mario Party 5 and Mario Party 10 and those are rad!
All of the games have been remade from scratch, with completely new visuals and gameplay physics. They are not ports of their original counterparts to be sure. This means that not only do they feature new and shiny visuals, but they often thrown in new wrinkles that shake things up; making for some really cool surprises for old school fans who think they know these games like the backs of their hands! It might be something subtle, like how Shy Guy Says remixes the old patterns and delays for telling you what flag to raise, or how Hexagon Heat now moves much faster, with ground pounding being a much more effective strategy than in the original version.
It might also be something major, like how Dizzy Dancing no longer ends in just 3 seconds, or how Chip Shot Challenge no longer shows you exactly how your opponents last moved. Every single minigame has been reworked and rebalanced in some way that makes them play out slightly differently from their original counterparts and series fans are likely to really appreciate these subtle tweaks and changes, making it a fresh way of experiencing their old favourites.
The best change of all? Bumper Balls no longer ALWAYS ends in a draw! Huzzah!
The visual upgrade is also a real treat for fans, as are the rearranged versions of classic tunes. It’s really great to hear the music from the earlier games in the series given a modern makeover and I cracked a big smile when I found out that each respective Mario Party game’s fanfare plays when you finish the minigame taken from that corresponding game too! It’s little touches like this that really raise the nostalgia factor and elevate the package as a whole; shame that not all of the minigames get their original music re-done, with only around half of the minigames getting unique music.
Outside of the free play mode, there are a few alternative ways of playing the 100 minigames on offer here, be it through the Decathlon mode, which plays out similarly to how it did in Mario Party 5, Mario Party 6 and Mario Party 7, or a simple structured Best of 3/Best of 5; most notably, there is one single board that you can actually play on, based on the ruleset from Balloon Bash in Mario Party: Star Rush. Unfortunately, the layout is very basic and it’s just not that interesting or fun to play. You’re likely to try it once and never go back to it again.
And that’s really this game’s biggest problem. There just isn’t much to it. In the right company, there’s some good fun to be had with the minigames on offer, but there’s nothing to keep you playing beyond just ploughing through minigames with your friends. This game only offers a fraction of the whole Mario Party experience, making for a fun, but shallow time. Single player also offers very little to do, only featuring a somewhat bland take on the Minigame Island mode from Mario Party and Mario Party 2. You have a mostly linear line that you follow down, unlocking minigames for multiplayer as you do so, with each space featuring a minigame where you have to place at least 3rd to pass; no special challenges or requirements at all. Beat all 100 minigames and that’s it. Thankfully Download Play is supported though, with the full multiplayer experience available, making multiplayer easy and painless to get up and running with friends. The game might not do much overall, but what it does do, it does very well.
Want to be able to screenwatch your buddies like in the good ol’ days, but also want your own private screen? Why not both!
So that’s about it. NDCUBE have done a great job in remaking a mostly great selection of classic minigames from throughout the series and called it a day there. It’s like making a delicious roast dinner, but forgetting to put any meat on the plate. The roast potatoes that are there might be well cooked and tasty, but they leave you feeling unsatisfied without the main course that they are supposed to accompany.
N-Europe Final Verdict
A collection of solid remakes of great minigames from throughout the Mario Party series’ history and nothing more. While there’s fun to be had here, the experience rings hollow without the classic boards that we know and love from the series. Diehard fans will appreciate what they’ve done with their old favourites here, but it’s a tough sell when it’s only really half a Mario Party game on offer here.
A really top-notch selection of minigames from the series’ history.
Really good remakes, with neat little touches and surprises for long-time fans.
Full Download Play support for multiplayer.
Where are the classic boards!? No, that one pathetic excuse of a board here doesn’t count!
A lack of additional multiplayer modes and a bland single player mode.
Some minigames don’t get their original music, forced to share music with others.
There just isn’t enough on offer here to justify a purchase for most people.