Mario Party 4

Mario Party 4

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 11/11/2002 for GC  
More On: Mario Party 4
Oh boy, how do I even begin to describe the latest iteration of Mario Party? It’s obvious that someone at Nintendo decided that the game could sell solely on the basis of name value because Mario Party 4 is perhaps one of the most disappointing games of 2002. Much was expected from this game, especially after the repeated success of the series. Mario Party would finally make an appearance on a next generation console but apparently someone forgot that the game succeeds on its simplicity and addictiveness as opposed to cutting edge technology and eye-popping graphics. So here we have it, the newest entry into the highly successful franchise is undoubtedly the worse in the series, proving once and for all that substance will always outweigh flash and style.

Mario Party is best described as Nintendo meets Parker Bros. The game is essentially a virtual board game where the tokens are represented by recognizable Nintendo properties. Players traveling around the board via a die that is rolled on the onset of each turn. The main aim of the game is to collect coins that can be used to purchase items and of course stars. Players can set the amount of turns that a game last, ranging from 10 to 50. The player who owns the most stars at the end of the game is deemed the winner. There are five unique boards that are laid out in a manner that is consistent with a Mario villain or character. Toad’s board for instance in a theme park, while Boo’s is a haunted house. Each of them feature different aesthetics and layouts, providing some replay value and a great change of scenery. There are a multitude of mini-games that populate the game and if you’ve ever played a Mario Party game, you’ll know that these are the meat and bones of the title.

There are tons of mini-games to partake in: fishing, block stomping, butterfly catching, maze running, drag racing, you name it. Chances are, if you can think of it it’ll more than likely be represented in this game. The variety is nice but the problem comes in their execution. Some of them are entertaining but the honest truth is that the majority of them are just plain boring. Throughout my time with the game I found my mind wandering and my attention wavering. I had a hard time concentrating on the majority of the games. Other Nintendo games such as Animal Crossing showed that even the most mundane of activities can prove to be fun and entertaining. Natsume has absolutely no excuse to unleash such a boring brand of gaming upon the public. I thought that playing them with my buddies would lend a better experience and while I admit that the funfactor skyrocketed, the game still failed to hold our attention for less than an hour. This is a rather stark contrast to the previous entries in the series where we’d lose ourselves in the game for 2-3 hours at a time.
The game tries to add some replay value for those who are socially challenged but it too fails in that aspect. Even when I played the game with three other friends we found ourselves losing more and more respect for the game as we moved along. The games were just too boring and unentertaining. Mario Party is often seen as the party game to have but to be honest, there’s just not much to celebrate in this disappointing title. The game is entirely too repetitive and becomes tiresome far too quickly. There are different boards to play on but the core game is essentially the same, thus making every single game feel just like the last one.

Visually the game is just a notch above the last Mario Party. The characters have been cleaned up quite a bit and there are plenty of new special effects in the game. Sometimes the game will impress you visually, the fishing game features some of the nicest water in a game, much akin to that of Super Mario Sunshine’s. At other times it’ll turn around and completely under whelm you with some of the blandest graphics that the system has to offer. Don’t buy this game as a showpiece for your new 60-inch plasma because you’ll definitely be disappointed.

In terms of audio there isn’t much to talk about. All of the game’s lines are produced through on-screen text as opposed to recorded dialogue. This leads to far more reading than there should have been. I mean, how hard is it to just have an announcer say “Luigi Go!” as opposed to displaying it on the screen? You’ll get the occasional noise from the player’s but that’s about it, nothing special at all. Music is exceptional as always though so if you’re into that kiddie Nintendo/Disney Land-esque music you’ll be in for a nice treat.

Let’s be honest here, this game is a huge letdown. I’d love to write more about the game but quite frankly, there’s just not enough to write about. It’s like trying to review Disney Monopoly right after you’ve finished reviewing Simpsons Monopoly, they’re from the same mold and in that retrospect, they’re nearly identical. Mario Party 4 does little to separate itself from its predecessors and competition. This game is marketed towards an extremely niche audience and if you’re one of those people who refuse to pull that game of Life out of the closet because you’re too lazy to count out the cash and set up the pieces, then this just might be your bag. However, if you do fall into that category, chances are that you already own a previous version of Mario Party.

The problem with Mario Party 4 is that the charm of the series has worn off over time. The mini-games just aren’t as fun as they used to be and without the minigames, this game is absolutely worthless. Though the game contains a multitude of redeeming facets, the good barely manages to outweigh the bad. It simply isn’t much fun anymore and to be honest, who wants to spend $50 on a game that will fail to hold their attention for just over an hour? A great rental if you’re throwing a party on the weekend but there really isn’t much of a reason to purchase it.

Partyin' lifestyle getting you down? Then why not pick up BradyGames' excellent Mario Party 4 Strategy Guide? It has tips and tricks on all of the mini-games as well as everything you need to know to win all of the birthday presents.
Mario and pals return to the party but the series’ aim has really gotten old. The game becomes boring far too soon and becomes a victim of its own repetitiveness.

Rating: 6.7 Mediocre

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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