Mario Party 9 ReviewJenny Wagner
It's time to smash controllers once again. Mario Party 9 busts on to the Wii, five years after the last main installment. This is the first game in the series to be made by Nd Cube Co. instead of Hudson Soft. The game feels very familiar as soon as you turn it on. We have been here a few times before. The characters are well known, and the core gameplay is something we have seen in the past eight games. Yet, there is surprisingly a lot of new content to be found.
Some interesting things happened before and during the creation of this title within the industry. This game was made by a different company than all the other Mario Party games to date, yet if you look in the credits, you see a lot of people who have worked on the previous titles. Many former employees of Hudson Soft moved on to Nd Cube either before or early in the games development. Nd Cube is even now headed by Hudson's former president, Hidetoshi Endo. In 2010, Nintendo Co. bought 98% of the company's shares, and ND Cube became an official R&D subsidiarity. Hudson Soft was officially non-existent as of March 1st, 2012 (just 1 day before Europe's release of Mario Party 9) and absorbed into Konami.
For the sake of this review, I mostly played with with three of my very good friends whom I have played Mario Party with before. There are single-player options for those wishing to play against the computers though. There are a lot of mixed feelings when going into this game. It's a great time with friends. The classic setting of sitting around on the couch and floor around a TV, laughing and enjoying each others company. Yet, things eventually turn a bit darker as the quest to be number one at the end of the game starts to make our more competitive sides come out. Mario Party 9 tries to take a small bit of the competition out by adding co-op movement and battles.
Instead of rolling a dice and moving individually around the board, all players are in a vehicle themed to the board they are on. Each player then takes a turn as "captain." The dice is rolled by the captain while the other players chill in the back seat. Coins are replaced with "mini-stars," which can be obtained through board movement, mini-games, and boss battles. The player that has the most mini-stars at the end of the game is the winner.
Mini bosses and boss battles are also a new edition to the game. These are semi-co-op games against a known enemy from the Mario franchise. Each boss has a different way of "attacking it." Each attack a player lands gets them points, and mini-stars are awarded after defeating the boss. The better a player does, the more mini-stars he or she receives. It's an interesting mechanic, since players rely on each other to defeat the boss, yet must do better than other competitor in order to get the most mini-stars.
Another big change is the replacement of "orbs." In previous games, players could obtain orbs, which could either help with the dice rolling phase, or set traps for other players. This has been replaced with special dice blocks. Players can hold two dice blocks and use when they see fit. Mini-games have been reworked as well. Instead of a mini-game at the end of each game turn, they appear by landing on certain spaces, or tucked inside chests when obtaining dice blocks. Players are given a choice of three mini-games, and normally the captain at the time chooses which game will be played.
Overall, Mario Party 9 brings a lot of new things to the 14 year old franchise. It's still fun and addicting but a little less "rage inducing."
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.