REVIEW – Mario Party: Island Tour

Game – Mario Party: Island Tour

Version – 3DS

ESRB Rating – E – Everyone

Price - $39.99 (3DS)

Release Date - 22/11/2013

Publisher – Nintendo

Obtained – Review copy courtesy of Nintendo

Is this Mario Party worth crashing?

Story/Plot

Mario and friends are relaxing near Peach’s castle, when all of a sudden a mysterious note descends from the sky – an invitation for Mario and his friends to journey to the Party Islands in the sky. Unfortunately, a jealous Bowser didn’t get invited, so he decides to trap the Party Islands’ fun inside bubbles from atop Bowser’s Tower!

The game’s story is inconsistently merged with the gameplay. The menus are all laid out as parts of the Party Islands, but the actual game boards themselves are separate from this setting. The only time it plays any role whatsoever is in the single-player feature known as Bowser’s Tower, where the player climbs up the tower by playing minigames in order to defeat the King Koopa himself at the very top. The dialogue in this section is cute, unique for each character and sometimes even a bit funny. As a whole, the story is almost nonexistent and doesn’t play an important role in the game, nor does it need to.

Gameplay & Controls

Mario Party is a game that has always been focused on multiplayer, and Island Tour makes it very quick and easy to play with friends through Download Play. Only one player needs a copy of the game, and up to four players can join in on the fun. In Party mode, players can compete across seven different game boards, each with their own unique features. In Kamek’s Carpet Ride, players use numbered cards in their hand to move rather than dice rolls, adding a layer of strategy. Rocket Road lets players save up ‘boosters’ to multiply their dice rolls, with the suspense of potentially rolling a 0 and not moving at all. Most of them are races to the finish, unlike in previous Mario Party titles where the player with the most stars at the end of a set number of turns was declared the winner. This change means that matches will go by a lot quicker, making them infinitely more enjoyable. Being able to sit through a fifteen-minute match and lose is far less frustrating than in previous Mario Party titles, where one could invest an hour into a game, only to lose all their stars at the very end.

The boards are organized according to the approximate amount of time required to complete them, as well as how much skill, luck and minigame prowess factor into winning. I found that I had the most fun with the quicker boards that were weighted mostly in skill and minigames, as the longer luck-based ones felt like they dragged on for far too long, especially when you were constantly sent back to the same space. Players can also take out the boards altogether and simply compete in minigames through the Minigame mode.

The 80+ minigames in Island Tour are pretty fun in general. They all make great use of the various features of the 3DS: the touch screen, accelerometer, gyroscope, microphone and even Augmented Reality cards. Many of them are challenging and some of them are unique, but none of them were particularly memorable. I didn’t find any minigames that I wanted to go back and play again and again.

The game includes a few single-player only features, notably Bowser’s Tower and Streetpass Minigames. The former pits the player against Bowser’s cronies as they travel up to the 30th floor, fighting a boss every five-floors. It gives the player a chance to enjoy all the minigames, but the difficulty of your opponents cannot be chosen from the start, so it may be too easy to keep one’s interest for too long. Since the game was not released prior to this review the Streetpass Minigames feature went unplayed as it requires players you pass by to own it.

You’ll get the most enjoyment out of Mario Party: Island Tour when you play it with friends. Sitting through computer-controlled characters’ turns becomes very cumbersome, and it’s so much more fun to compete against your friends than the games’ artificial intelligence. The inclusion of online multiplayer might have solved this issue for players whose friends do not have 3DSes. Regardless, the game includes a decent amount of single and multi-player options, and both the minigames and boards are fun enough to encourage you to keep playing.

Visuals & Sound

The 3D effect in Mario Party: Island Tour is superb. The different layers of depth are very clearly defined, and the effect is consistent throughout the game with no slowdown whatsoever. It doesn’t add to the gameplay, but it’s a nice feature to have on because it’s so visually stimulating. The art style itself is similar to what players have experienced in previous Mario Party titles, but the characters seem to animate less stiffly than they have in previous iterations of the franchise and the level of detail in the different maps makes them very interesting to look at. I particularly liked the Super Mario Galaxy theme in the Rocket Road stage.

Island Tour includes remixes of old tunes as well as its own unique pieces, and both sound good. None of them will leave a lasting impression on the player, but they do a competent job of setting the mood and feel of each stage. The ability to unlock and play the tunes whenever you want is a nice feature that allows the tracks to be appreciated as entities separate from the boards and minigames.

Final Score: 7/10

There’s no denying that Mario Party: Island Tour can be fun, especially when you’re playing with friends. The minigames are all entertaining showcases for the 3DS’s various functions, and most of the boards are very fun with their own unique twists. Though you can speed up cutscenes in Bowser’s Tower, the same cannot be said for the NPCs turns in the main game, which makes them unnecessarily slow and tedious. If you’re looking for a good party game to play with friends and don’t own a Wii U for Wii Party U, then you’ll certainly get your money’s worth out of this game.

+ Multiplayer includes Download Play, so only one game is required

+ Short maps are lots of fun, don’t get too tiresome

+ StreetPass functionality

+ Entertaining dialogue in Bowser’s Tower

+ Great variety of minigames and game boards

+ 3D effect looks incredible

- Lack of online multiplayer means some gamers won’t be able to play with friends

- Lengthier maps remind us of Mario Party’s flaws

-Still have to wait through CPU’s turns

 

Our YouTube Channel is full of Mario Party videos!

Check out our video coverage of Bowser’s Tower right here:

 

And some of the game’s musical tracks:

___________________________________________________________________________

Alexandre Trottier’s parents always complain about the amount of partying he’s been doing lately. Between Mario Party: Island Tour and Wii Party U, there’s no denying that he’s been involved in a lot of them. Is it bad for his health? Maybe. Is it a lot of fun? Yes! You can tweet him @NF_Alexandre if you have questions about the game, or discuss them on the NintendoFuse forums. He’s also been putting a lot of time and effort into the NintendoFuse YouTube page, so check it out! Be sure to comment below, and use the various social media buttons to help NintendoFuse grow!

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About the author:

When Alex was young, he used to cry whenever his parents tried to hand him a game controller. Having complete control over the life of a red-clad Italian plumber was just too daunting to him. Nowadays, he only cries when the controller’s taken away.

Hailing from the frigid tundras of Canada, Alex plays video games not only to entertain himself, but also as a source of warmth to get him through the winter. He loves all genres of video games, the more difficult the better. Some of his current favourites include VVVVVV, Pikmin 3 and Rayman Legends.

Alex – who has written posts on NintendoFuse.


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