Mario Party Island Tour, Nintendo, 2013. Nintendo Selects, 2016.
Mario Party has always been one of my favourite and beloved Nintendo franchise and Mario titles.
As a child l’d spend hours playing the games alone or with friends. First on the Nintendo 64 and later on for the Gamecube (Mario Party 4 was the first game I purchased for the Gamecube). I even followed it loyally on the DS and the Wii later on.
The board-games style of play required planning and strategy. The Mario Party titles were fun and featured all the Mario characters we have all come to love. One thing that set it apart form any other Mario title and that’s the mini-games.
Alas it truly brings me no pleasure to write this review today. I have been a Mario Party fan since inception and I don’t make it a point of giving negative just for the fun of it. I’m not stuck in 1999 either, I really wanted, tried, to like Mario Party Island Tour for the Nintendo 3DS, but not to avail.
That’s the sad part. Initially I had mild expectations for Mario Party lsland tour. I wasn’t demanding much, simply a Mario Party game with boards, mini-games in that classic, familiar style that l could play on the go.
Mario Party DS did an excellent job bringing the party to the portable consoles l thought. I assumed perhaps we’d get something similar. Not even close. It turns out all the negative reviews you read are in fact very much true. I so wanted to believe that they were wrong and that l’d be right. I was wrong.
The main problem lies in the game’s boards. There are 7 boards total. Great right? Sounds like the usual amount, give or take. Nope. I soon discovered the boards are not the traditional ones.
There are very brief board games that can last ten minutes, twenty or a little more. Nintendo puts an approximate play length for every board, but I find they constantly exaggerate. The most I’ve gotten is probably a half hour, but it was more painful than decent.
The boards are so small and there’s hardly anything interesting or remotely fun about them. They feel like child games. Maybe that’s what Nintendo was going for here, aiming this game at children. Sadly I don’t think children would get much of a kick out of this game either, they’d probably be as bored as I was.
The goal for most boards to arrive first to the finish line. Unlike the past, it’s no longer about how much stars or money you accumulate. In Island Tour, everything is a race and VERY brief ones at that.
You can gain power ups from winning mini-games which add an extra dice to your roll count, or multiply your dice roll, or make you move a specific number of spots. That’s most of Island Tour right there.
You have to unlock boards as you go which is fine. Until you get to the last board. The seventh and final board can only be played multiplayer. That’s right you need other people to be able to play it. If you ask me that’s wrong. Now if it was a bonus extra, 8th map l’d be okay with that. But what Nintendo is doing is putting a plate of cookie in front of you that you can’t eat. What’s the point? Not that I care that much at this point since I hardly enjoyed any aspect of the title.
Even Bowser’s tower is repetitive and dreadful. It’s not so bad to begin at least. All you do is climb a tower of 30 floors, on each floor you face Bowser’s henchmen in a mini-game battle. All you have to do is win the game to get to the next floor. But then it turns out you get to the top of the tower basically for nothing and have to do it all over again. It’s pointless because I feel no enjoyment, why do it again? You do unlock mini-games and other unlockables that don’t serve any purpose (crystal balls with characters, events or map in them. Gee thanks l’m gonna stare at that a lot).
I feel obligated to mention the controls. It makes good use of the 3DS stylus and particularly it’s joystick. The main flaw is the mini-games that require you to tilt the console for directions, aiming and such. It’s painful to deal with and it does not function well at all. It’s problem that they clearly didn’t bother to deal with or maybe thought gamers wouldn’t care.
Now the one good thing (yes it’s not all bad folks) about Island Tour is the mini-games. They’re not bad at all and most of them are really fun and can compete with any Mario Party title out there. It’s just sad that the rest of the game makes it almost torture to play them. Some of the mini-games are actually very similar to previous MP games and some seem directly inspired or taken from them. It’s a good mix of familiarity and freshness, l actually enjoyed quite a few of them. Yet mini-games aren’t enough to redeem the rest of the game and sadly it doesn’t take long to get all of them.
My advice is to skip this one altogether (unless you’re like me and have to find out for yourself, and if you do, please buy used) and pick up Mario Party for the regular DS. That’s still the best portable Mario Party and it kept the spirit and fun of the N64 and Gamecube titles.
Island Tour seems aimed more towards children and those who might not have played a MP game previously. Whatever the case may be, I feel Nintendo missed an opportunity here. Island Tour ends up being a very restricted and forgettable tour which is sad because both Mario Party and the 3DS deserved better. Certainly not worth full price. Avoid. 2/5 stars.