The first Mario game of 2014 also marks the debut of the Mario Party series on the 3DS. The game which is called Mario Party: Island Tour, is filled with lots of fun mini-games for fans to explore.
The game is designed to be played with up to four players, and thanks to the Nintendo 3DS' handy Download Play feature, the game can now be shared via a single cartridge, which makes multiplayer gaming much easier.
The game's single player mode is designed so that players compete against three computer-generated [COM] opponents from the Mario Universe. However, players can now choose who their COM opponents will be and also alter the skill setting of each opponent in turn to make the game harder or easier to play.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the previous titles in the Mario Party franchise, the idea is that players must work their way through the island like a board game. Players must roll dice and move a set number of spaces until they reach the goal.
All players (including COM players,) must roll a dice at the start of the game to determine the order of play - the player with the highest dice number goes first, the next highest goes second and so on. Players can also play mini games at the end of each round to earn more dice, and give them a better chance of scoring higher and thus a chance of reaching the finishing goal faster.
The game also features special spaces (as found on many traditional board games to date,) which can either help or hinder a player's progress across the board. There are many different spaces, depending on which of the game boards you have chosen to play, including the following:
SPECIAL ITEM: landing on this space grants the player a special bonus item which can be used on their next turn. a few examples of special items include: The Golden Dash Mushroom; which allows players to add five more moves onto their dice score, The Lucky Star; which allows players to multiply their dice score by two, and The Setback Shell; which can be used to make an opponent take two spaces backwards on the board.
Players can own a maximum of three special items at any one time. If players earn more than three special items during a round, they will be asked to choose a special item to discard.
BOWSER TIME: Players who land on this space will be subjected to a random consequence imposed by the evil Bowser. These consequences are usually detrimental to the players' progress in the game, but not always.
An example of a negative consequence would be Lose all special items, which means that players will be immediately stripped of any special items that they have accumulated in the game thus far. An example of a positive consequence could see players Warp to the finish, thus giving them the best chance of being the overall winner of the game.
EVENT: This space triggers something which will either move the chosen player forward or backwards within the game. An example of this is the terrifyingly-brilliant Piranha Plant, which throws players backwards a number of spaces, depending on their roll of the dice.
CHALLENGE OR VS.: These spaces are very similar in that they will both trigger random mini-games. However, the rewards for completing the mini-games is slightly different. Challenge Squares will challenge the player to a mini-game, where being first will earn them a bonus dice or a special item.
Versus spaces [VS.] sees all four players compete against each other in a 'best of three' type activity. Completing the activity the fastest three times will result in bonus rewards.
There are a total of seven different types of main game boards each with different spaces and challenges available, which adds lots of variety to the game. Mini-games become unlocked during certain rounds of the game. Once unlocked, they will be added to the Mini-games section on the start screen and can be played independently of the main game.
In conclusion, Mario Party: Island Tour makes a very good addition to the Mario Party franchise, with humorous twists and turns and quirky mini-games, it is likely to appeal to most mini-game fans out there.
One slight criticism of the game is that some of the main game boards felt a little too long sometimes, whilst others seemed to be over far too quickly. Nevertheless, this is still a fun title to play with friends and family, as its easy and familiar style, as well as its colourful graphics will appeal to even the youngest of gamers. Mario fans are sure to find lots to delight and entertain them in this game. Overall rating: 8/10.
Mario Party: Island Tour will be available to buy from Friday the 17th of January 2014.