An island in celebration

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Aina Martin
@ainamartin
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With nearly a dozen episodes behind it, the Mario Party series has always carved out its niche in Nintendo's extensive intellectual property catalog, ever since its debut in 1998 with the first, unforgettable Mario Party on Nintendo 64.

Beyond the tears of nostalgia, time passes for everyone and despite Hudson Soft no longer taking care of the franchise she created, the newborn NdCUBE (Wii Party, Mario Party 9) has firmly taken the reins in hand. Eleven official titles featuring a large amount of minigames, especially the first few episodes; the challenge facing the team at each new iteration is constant and relates to the ability to make a concept of party game in company still attractive, after so many years, now buried by the sands of online. The brand's "Gioco dell'Oca" style structure is now well known; it therefore remains to be discovered how the additions in purely playful and inventive terms manage to breathe life into this spin-off for Nintendo 3DS. Is the party here?



D'in up the tower

Mario Party Island Tour, let's face it clearly, offers a single mode definitely below expectations. A sketch of the story of Nintendian cliché leads Bowser to place his island-tower a few steps from the carefree and playful island of our heroes. It is under a simple pretext that the game invites you to climb the floors, guaranteeing a challenge against the CPU at every step and inserting bosses every five steps up. The offer, frankly, guarantees very little bite on the purely playful factor; the level of difficulty remains at the minimum that can be questioned until the last floors, where the degree of challenge grows too weakly to guarantee satisfaction.



With a design studied to make the road without hitches for the less skilled and the newbies of the saga, Bowser's Tower is certainly the least interesting of the game boards as, not too absurdly, it appears as the real filler of the package. Perhaps an accomplice is the desire to wink at newcomers, but one cannot let such a partial commitment to provide any reason to return to the Tower after the first completion. To make everything even less defensible, a focus on luck intervenes (unfortunately this factor is present in all the scoreboards) which sometimes brings with it obvious frustration; the choice of crossroads of the minigame is the only action that will separate one floor from the other: which, frankly, is very little. Adding up the team's decision not to grant her exclusive minigames, the quest ends quickly without leaving emotions or giving particular fun. The focus of the title definitely lies elsewhere. Mario Party is historically a pet title, and it is almost tender to note that Nintendo firmly pursues the path of offline multiplayer. The Kyoto-based company is perhaps the last to stand as a bulwark of general entertainment in the same room and from this point of view Island Tour worthily continues the tradition for laptops.

As was the case with the Nintendo DS chapter, even on the new laptop, a single cartridge is enough to let three other friends download the software and share the game. Always found winning, as it fits perfectly with the philosophy of portable sharing, also thanks to a truly negligible download time, accessible in a few seconds. Thanks to seven game boards, the offer is multiplied, guaranteeing an ideal fusion with the prerogatives of portability, first of all the battery; each display board provides its own unique completion time, so as to facilitate its management for those who find themselves far from power sources. To be honest, there would also be indications regarding skills, luck and quantity of minigames, but it is a pity that they are very subjective, especially the factor linked to the randomness of the roll of the dice. But you know, under the guise of Mario Party there is a nice way to laugh and mock each other, and it must be said that the result is convincing; specific levels are characterized by good environmental ideas, which add dynamism and bite to a competition that in the long run risks becoming bland.



Mario Party Island Tour is a decent portable party game, but we are far from the glories of the franchise

The 3D effect

On Island Tour, NdCUBE opted for a rather forgettable use of the 3D effect. Perhaps thanks to the recently released Nintendo 2DS, the use of the title does not absolutely make you feel the lack of parallax; the games to which the element of depth adds thickness can be counted with one hand. Considering the motion-based nature of the console of some games, the 3D element, due to structural limitations of the technology, sometimes becomes more of an obstacle than a nice playful addition.

Mini-mini

It is not easy for a franchise with 15 years on its shoulders to still offer freshness and stubborn gameplay today. Mario Party Island Tour defends itself in half: quantity and quality are of a good standard, with a consistent number of skill-based games, others that are inspired by the developer's "wii partyano" curriculum, others that unfortunately remain anchored to luck-based challenges .

It is a balance that now seems stable for the saga; Gone are the days when people dared to propose deep, innovative mini-games designed for the specific occasion (see splitting the pad and using the microphone on Gamecube) but this is not necessarily a bad thing. The lack of courage translates into many mini-games that remain fun when faced in competition with opponents of the same level and ideal for raising the bar, even on those apparently simple games but with a purely arcade flavor. Alternating are games based on physical keys, on touch controls and also on the accelerometer and gyroscope. And if the hunt for the stars is a thing of the past, NdCUBE has well thought of filling the title with many collectibles and unlockables, made so thanks to the coins that will accumulate session after session. The absence of those types of minigames so dear to nostalgics, such as 2 against 2 or 3 against 1, weighs heavily; perhaps the choice to lighten the multiplayer load has decreed its absence, but it is regrettable to note how the focus of game design has been based on providing continuous all-against-all matches and not on creating improvised unions of circumstances between players. Maybe on the next chapter.



Comment

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Readers (21)

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Your vote

Mario Party Island Tour is certainly not the turning point, but Nintendo chooses to keep a low profile and provide fans and anyone looking for a good party game on Nintendo 3DS with a title with good qualities. There are many minigames that can give multiplayer fun, but it is a pity for a truly forgettable single-player mode without depth. The ability to buy a single cartridge and share it with friends is always a great added value, especially these days, and it is surprising how the speed of downloading and subsequent sharing does not create any lag. A good spin-off but without sparks, waiting for the big N to avoid new tasks and return to invest intelligently in one of its most profitable franchises.

PRO

  • Some very fun games
  • Seven scoreboards
  • Good use of hardware
  • Just one cartridge is enough
AGAINST
  • Single mode insufficient
  • CPU for novices
  • Minigames with factions disappeared
  • Online non-existent
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