Reviewed by: Brady Ruiters
The Mario Party series has been an ongoing weapon in the Nintendo arsenal when it came to multiplayer party games. There have been a few highs and lows throughout but there has always been an attempt at mixing up the gameplay. Mario Party: Island Tour has been released for the 3DS and looks to take over the handheld market with its frenetic party gameplay. Does it succeed? Let’s find out.
Mario Party: Island Tour is essentially a board game on which players compete with each other by rolling a dice to advance and take part in minigames every few turns. Placing in one of the first three positions in a minigame will allow a player to jump a few spaces. These are usually quite a frantic affair with each character attempting to take the lead.
The game has three modes: Bowser’s Tower, Party and Minigames. Bowser’s Tower is the single-player mode of the game, which requires the player to beat 3 CPU controlled characters in one of two randomly chosen minigames on each of the 30 floors of the tower. The only problem with this is that the CPU characters offer little to no challenge, making this mode feel tedious in a rather short time. However, this changes as you edge closer to the last few floors; the challenge gets ramped up ever so slightly, making it somewhat bearable. It’s pretty unlikely that a player would struggle with Bowser’s Tower. There are a few interesting boss fights that pop up every five floors, but these are over all too soon as the game sets the player back on the journey up the tower. The boss fights break up the grind a little but unfortunately doesn’t warrant attempting the tower again.
Party Mode is an improvement and makes a welcome change to the Mario Party series. This time around, players will not have to collect stars in order to win the game. Players will need to avoid hazards on game boards while attempting to keep the lead by winning minigames. Each game board has its own unique objective such as successfully avoiding a Bullet Bill or trying to stay as far away from Bowser as possible. It’s a nice change that mixes up the gameplay. Minigames is pretty much just a list of all the little games that are played on game boards. These can be played at any time and gives the player the opportunity to practice if they’d like to improve their performance.
A great feature of Mario Party: Island Tour is the ability to play the game with up to three friends while only using one game cartridge. This is made possible by using the Download Play feature of the 3DS. This enables them to access any game board and make use of any of the available characters. The amount of content available does mean that there will be some long download times but it runs rather smoothly when a game is in progress.
The gameplay seems appealing at first since the touch screen features of the 3DS come into play quite nicely. These work well and add some variety to the gameplay. Unfortunately, the appeal of the game wears off rather quickly due to the fact that the minigames are somewhat bland. They can also be frustrating when making use of the 3DS’ accelerometer, which requires sudden movements in various directions in order to control moving objects. It can be truly uncomfortable, especially when playing the 3D all the way up as it makes it a lot harder to see.
Visually, Mario Party: Island Tour indulges in a typically Mario style with its bright colours. Additionally, the various game boards show some clever level design. The audio of the game features a rather bubbly soundtrack. The voiceovers however, actually become quite monotonous after a few games.
Mario Party: Island Tour takes a crack at the 3DS but unfortunately ends up being mediocre. Many of the game boards that are featured are creatively designed but the bland minigames become a bit of a bore. The Download Play feature works well and definitely makes it easier to play with a group of friends. Additionally, the minigames featuring touch screen mechanics are a welcome addition. The same cannot be said for the accelerometer portions however.
The game features some clever level design and has a style that has an explosion of bright colours throughout. The soundtrack for the game is quite bubbly and adds to the overall theme for the game. Voiceovers can become somewhat monotonous after a few games though. Mario Party: Island Tour certainly attempts to take a step forward with the 3DS platform but unfortunately takes two steps back in the process.
Lasting appeal: 5.5/10