• 7, July, 2016

Mario Party: Island Tour Review

With every new Nintendo system you can be sure a few familiar faces are going to make an appearance. Donkey Kong, Mario Kart, Zelda, a Mario platformer – it’s clear Nintendo has a nice pool of franchises it likes to pull from for every console cycle and the 3DS has certainly been no different. The handheld has already made its way through a good chunk of Nintendo’s catalogue all with pleasing results and it was just a matter of time before the company finally arrived at the Mario Party series (Amazingly Island Tour will be the third handheld entry and twelfth overall for the franchise). Coming off the back of a stellar 2013 for the 3DS, can Mario Party: Island Tour continue the momentum in this new year?

It’s hard to believe that this year will mark Mario Party’s fifteenth since the original mini game marathon debuted on the Nintendo 64 back in 1999. Over its lengthy run, the series has seen changes both small and large in an effort to help “mix things up”. Sure altering the rules slightly or introducing the odd new mechanic here and there brings with them an element of something that feels new, but when all is said and done the general formula remains exactly the same. Win mini games, move around a board, collect stars and hope for a little luck in the process. Island Tour is no different in that regard and therefore extremely unlikely to change the opinions of those grown tired of the genre in general. Fans however will probably find enough to keep them satisfied.

It’s business as usual with up to four players taking each other on over a series of uniquely themed boards. There are seven on offer this time each with their own unique winning requirements. Star-Crossed Skyway for example focuses on the collecting of mini stars while Kamek’s Carpet Ride sees you racing to be first across the finish line and Bowser’s Peculiar Peak flips things entirely this time rewarding the person who reaches the finale last. Each board is ranked based on its reliance on luck, skill and mini-game frequency (although these feel rarely accurate at times) and also vary in play time – handy if you’ve a preference between a short fifteen minute game and a lengthier hour long one. Chance still plays a hefty role in the standings a majority of the time with many of our games ending with the player in last making a late comeback thanks to a series of fortunate events – a result that can prove exciting at times knowing anything can happen or frustrating as you constantly worry you could be screwed over at any time. The variation in board types is a nice enough idea even if it doesn’t exactly shake the formula up too much.

So what’s the selection of mini games like then? Overall the quality is pretty good with a nice variety on offer that use a mixture of traditional and gyroscopic controls. Like previous entries in the series you have your usual selection of platforming mini games, button bashing mini games, luck based mini games and so on. Some stand outs we’ve come across include Tragic Carpet Ride which sees you trying to survive longest whilst avoiding chomping Mattermouths; Buzz a Fuzzy where you use the system’s gyroscope to aim and shoot an arrow at a group of Fuzzy’s hitting as many in a row as possible; and Starring Artist a game that calls on your ability to draw star constellations using the touch screen.

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