Monday, March 12, 2012

The Ten Best Mario Party Mini-Games

So hey, Mario Party 9 for the Wii was released yesterday and I find that crazy. There are nine Mario Party games! No, there are 11 because of DS and Advance. ELEVEN! That is some insane stuff right there. Too bad the quality seemed to be on a constant downhill slide ever since 4. Regardless of how the quality in later games have been, there are very few multiplayer experiences out there quite like Mario Party. I remember plenty of great memories spent playing with friends and family, even some of the lesser ones like Mario Party 6. Mario Party is a lot of fun when you have a group to play with.

Go die, Domination.
But what makes Mario Party Mario Party? Well, the mini-games of course! Each game packs what seems like 60+ and they always make for a good time. That is unless they’re luck based or require you to tap A furiously for 10 seconds like Domination, those games are awful. But hey, we’re not here to talk about the bad, we’re talking about the good. The ten best, in fact. Yes, in honor of Mario Party 9’s release I’m looking at what I consider to be the ten best Mario Party mini-games. But before I begin, keep in mind that I don’t own Mario Party 7 or Advace, so none of those will be on here. Technically I don’t own 1 or 5 either but I’ve played those plenty with friends so I know of them. Anyway, let’s get started.

10. Book It! From Mario Party DS

"Come on, Peach! Move your ass!"
Mario Party DS was the last great Mario Party. No seriously, that game is a lot of fun. If you haven’t picked it up yet, do it. You won’t be disappointed. The best feature, of course was the fact that it had single cartridge multiplayer. Getting some friends together and playing some handheld Mario Party was a lot of fun. While a lot of the mini-games were gimmicky and made use of the touchscreen or the microphone, my personal favorite just made use of the buttons. Book It! Involved you and your teammate carrying a ruler up a flight of books (because you’re tiny in this game, you see.) In order to do this, you had to press A, B, Y, X in that order as fast you can twice in a row. This sounds simple but in the heat of the moment, it’s not all that simple and especially not when you have your friend screaming at you, which admittedly is the best part. What sets this game apart from the button mashing games is that you actually have to tap four different buttons at four different times. I like that. Plus the teamwork element is high. I don’t know. Something about this one has just really stuck out to me amongst all the other Mario Party DS games. I like it a lot.

9. Blame It On the Crane from Mario Party 4

Lip sync not included.
This one’s mostly about nostalgia. Mario Party 4 was one of the first games I got for the Gamecube and I played it a lot and anytime this game came up, I got excited. It’s a 1-vs-3 mini-game where the single player is inside a giant crane trying to grab the other 3 characters who are trapped inside Super Monkey Balls and running around on a conveyer belt. The thing is, there’s also a bunch of Shy Guys on the belt you have to avoid running into. What I like about this game is that it’s very easy to dodge the single player when you’re one of the three players but there’s also always that risk that you’ll hit a wall of Shy Guys and just be trapped. Helpless against the mighty crane. Also, sometimes you might get stuck with really dumb computers who walk backwards against you and try to sabotage the whole game. I’m on to you, Waluigi!

8. Eatsa Pizza from Mario Party 3

No party is complete without pizza!
Yes, this is a mini-game where you have to tap a button fiercely to win. No, I don’t care. Why? Because you’re crawling on a plate eating a giant pizza! That’s it. That’s all I got. Moving on.

7. Shock, Drop or Roll from Mario Party 2
Luigi would probably win by doing nothing.
I’m sure most people would put this higher but hey, I wouldn’t but I’d still put it in the top 10. Shock, Drop or Roll is just pure, sadistic fun. It’s a 1-vs-3 mini-game where the single player moves a switch back and forth and tries to get the other three to fall off this weird cylinder thing into a bunch of electricity. It’s kind of brutal for a Mario Party game. Anyway, the single player is always fun because you just get switch back and forth as fast as you can and be a jerk to anybody playing. The other three have to constantly switch their controls, running and back and forth and occasionally jumping when necessary. It’s definitely harder as one of the three players but it is still a lot of fun. My friend I used to play this game with a lot was really good at staying on the cylinder. Pretty sure I still to this day have not be able to knock him off. Need to step my game up.

6. Frigid Bridges from Mario Party 3

Curse you, not-Cheep Cheep!
I’ve always enjoyed Mario Party mini-games that require more skill than luck or how much longer it takes for your thumb to get tired, that’s where Frigid Bridges falls on the list. The idea behind this game is you have to walk on a very slim path made of ice from one end to the other, carrying a brick with you to make a bridge. You then have to go back and grab another piece. Repeat three times. The path twists and turns and has fish jumping out of the water trying to get you, it can be rather frustrating but it’s all about patience and control. Too bad you can’t be patient when you’re friends on their third block already! You have to slowly ease your way down the slippery path and try to not fall in the water, it can get pretty intense but it’s always fun. And when you win, you actually feel like you accomplished something difficult and didn’t just pick the right lever that didn’t make Bowser’s face explode.

5. Trace Race from Mario Party 4

Above: Skill.
Trace Race is another game where I actually feel accomplished when I win. It’s a battle mini-game and the idea is that you’re carrying this giant crayon and have to trace the line on the floor from begin to the end to the best of your ability. Since you’re not actually tracing, instead using a controller it can be a little tricky but it’s still a lot of fun and requires quite a bit of concentration, especially when you get one of the paths with a ton of loops. This game is fun with multiple people because chances are, everybody will be talking and the last thing you want to be doing is yelling at somebody because they stole your star when you need to delicately trace lines on the floor with a giant ape holding a crayon. I also like this one a lot because I’m really good at it and I can’t say that about many things.

4. Lift Leapers from Mario Party 6

Or you could fall with style like Wario here.
Mario Party 6 isn’t a bad game by any means but the boards were too gimmicky to me and most of the mini-games just felt stale. Of course, with this exception. Life Leapers is a great mini-game. It’s essentially a sidescrolling platformer but in mini-game form. The objective of the game is to go through four different rooms, each of which are sidescrolling and have a bunch of different platforms to jump on. Once you reach the pipe at the end, you’re warped to the next section. Each section has a different gimmick from moving platforms, spike pits and even clouds that disappear. This is another one of those games that actually requires skill. Sure, it doesn’t control quite like your typical sidescroller but it still is a lot more fun than mashing A and I got to hand it to them for delivering such an excellent mini-game in a less than excellent entry.

3. Tipsy Tourney from Mario Party 2

Everything is upsy-daisy!
I love Tipsy Tourney. This game is so much fun. You’re on this platform in the middle of space (or cloud land if you’re playing Mario Party 1) and it’s covered in these little tiles that have to be removed. The objective is to move your character around the platform and tilt it so that a Koopa shell runs over the tiles and makes them disappear. You always have to plan ahead and hope the shell actually listens, especially when it comes down to the wire and you’ve only got like, three pieces in the middle left to remove. I love this game when there’s a group because it’s always real intense. It isn’t a very hard game but everybody plays it differently. Everybody has a different way they want to move the shell and a different pattern, it’s always fun to see what pays out for who in the end. Plus, this is another one I’m good at so that makes it even better. This might not seem like one of the best to you and maybe it isn’t, I don’t know. Maybe I’m just real nostalgic for it. Whatever the case, I love Tipsy Tourney and I get excited anytime it shows up.

2. Locked Out from Mario Party 3

Not pictured: me with a black eye.
Oh the dreaded Battle Mini-Game. Why must you show up and take my twenty coins right before the star? Why must you always be so random and potentially entirely luck based?! Oh wait, what’s this? A battle game that actually requires skill? And it’s fun as hell? Yes folks, Locked Out from Mario Party 3 is one of the absolute best. The game starts you in a room with three doors and a bunch of different keys. On the doors is a shape, you have to grab the key of that shape and bring it to the door to make it to the next room. Since there’s only three doors, one person is going to be eliminated regardless. Same thing happens in the next room until there’s only one door left. This game is always a blast and always a mad dash to see who can grab the key and make it to the door first. Plus, they give you the ability to punch people in this game so even if you have the key, you’re not safe from your very angry friends. This game requires you to be quick on your toes and never gives you the chance to relax. I absolutely love playing it and always hope to see it when it’s time for a Battle. 

1. Bumper Balls from Mario Party 2

Oh come on, you knew it was coming! Bumper Balls is everybody’s favorite. Why else would it have been in 1 and 2? Let’s face it, folks, there’s nothing more fun than rolling around on a giant ball and knocking your opponents into boiling hot lava. Nothing. I love this game so much. It’s just beyond fun and it requires skill. See, in order to get your opponents to actually fall off the stage, you have to build momentum, the harder you ram an opponent, the further they get pushed back. However, because the stages are so small, sometimes you put yourself at risk by trying to build momentum. It can be tricky stuff but it will never not be fun. Mario Party 2 even added different terrain to fight on such as the slippy, slidey ice level and the level with a bunch of bumps in it. These make it even harder to gain momentum and knock your opponents off but hell if it isn’t fun. Which is all Mario Party should be about; fun. Not about mashing buttons or getting lucky. No, a video game should be about having a good time doing something you can’t in real life, preferably with some friends and trust me, there’s no way I could ever stand on top of a giant, rubber ball, roll it with my feet and knock a dinosaur off the side of snowy mountain. So thank you, Mario Party, for allowing me to live that fantasy.

So that’s my Top 10 favorite Mario Party mini-games. Now, there’s still plenty more I could have included. Those that come to mind include Grab Bag from Mario Party 2, Coney Island and Pushy Penguins from 5, Pokey Punch-Out and Snow Brawl from 6, and the ever popular, Hide and Sneak from Mario Party 3. Now what about you guys? What are your favorite Mario Party mini-games? Did I mention any of yours (besides Bumper Balls)? And are any of you actually thinking about purchasing Mario Party 9? (I’m not, the board game part looks awful but that’s neither here nor there.) Sound off below!

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