Does Mario Party: The Top 100 live up to the expectations and really bring the party back, or is should the invitation to this party simply be ignored? Tris finds out in his review! Script is posted below the video.
A mere two months ago, Nintendo surprised many with the announcement of a brand new Mario Party game for the Nintendo 3DS. What caught the eyes of many almost immediately, was that all the minigames were picked from older games in the series, specifically all of the console entries. Now, the game has released in North America, and is in the hands of many Mario Party fans. Does Mario Party: The Top 100 live up to the expectations and really bring the party back, or is should the invitation to this party simply be ignored?
The handheld entries in the Mario Party series have frequently received both good and bad criticism for their gameplay. Island Tour was too focused on quick gameplay but had fun minigames and board gimmicks, Star Rush was too focused on its Toad Scramble mode, but had the hectic and fun Coinathlon, etc. The same goes for Mario Party: The Top 100, having both very good aspects of its gameplay, while also containing some questionable decisions.
First, let’s talk about the minigames as a whole. Across the various Mario Party games, many minigames relied heavily on the physics in that game. This time around, the physics engine is unified, so movement in every minigame feels about the same. This was confusing at first, playing many of the older minigames and expecting them to play and control exactly as they originally did. After some quick adjustment, I found myself really enjoying this unification. The use of touch controls and the 3DS mic are also fun additions that don’t take away from the experience. A couple of minigames make use of the 3DS gyro to do tilt controls, such as the minigame Speeding Bullets. This is…fine, and after some time I didn’t have a problem with it, but I personally feel the responsiveness is a tad too sensitive. Some minigames actually benefit greatly from being on a 3DS, such as Snow Whirled, as it’s now very easy to rack up a huge score. Button mashing minigames are a bit harder on a smaller console, and I definitely think people on the original 3DS model may have a harder time with it, but none of them feel broken. Overall, the minigames are lots of fun, and as many of my own personal favorites made it into this title, I’ve had a blast playing through so many of them in one game.
Moving on, there are five modes and a collection room in The Top 100, and four of these modes can be played with friends, regardless of how many people own the game thanks to Download Play. The most basic of these modes is 100 Minigames, where players can choose any of the 100 minigames in the game to play. These can be sorted by:
- Battle Type, which are Free-For-All, 1-on-3, 2-on-2, Duel, and Special,
- Mario Party Series, which sorts the games by their original appearances,
- Genre, which sorts the games into Action, Skill, Racing, Sports, Brainy, Lucky, and Puzzler,
- And Favorites, which display any minigames marked as a favorite, which can be done by pressing X when prompted, usually on the result screen or selection screen.
Additionally, in the 100 Minigames mode, players can modify their three Favorites Packs, which let them place five minigames in a set that can be chosen to play in other modes. I’ve found myself playing 100 Minigames with my friends fairly often, usually using the “Auto” button to randomly give us one of the minigames rather than choosing one ourselves.
The next mode is the main single-player mode of the game, Minigame Island. A throwback to the single-player mode from the original Mario Party, this mode has players make their way to the end by playing many different Minigames. Each space on the board is another minigame or a coin challenge. The whole mode is divided into four Worlds, each World divided into sections. Players start in World 1-1, then do 2-1 and 2-2, then continue on from there. Minigame Island must be played to unlock all of the minigames in all other modes. Upon completing Minigame Island for the first time, Hard Mode is unlocked, which required players get first place in a Minigame to advance, instead of simply placing third or higher. While I have fun playing through Minigame Island, I wish that there was a remix to the order they’re challenged when playing in Hard Mode.
The next mode, which is best played with friends, is Minigame Match. This is The Top 100’s answer to your typical Mario Party board game mode. Much like the Balloon Bash from Mario Party: Star Rush, Players mode around a board at the same time, attempting to collect the most stars from the Star Balloons. Star Balloons appear alone, or in a bundle of two, three, or even five stars. Stars cost 10 coins, instead of the typical 20 seen from the main Mario Party series. Players can choose the turn order, ranging from as few as 10 turns to as many as 50. The pacing is still far much faster than the main Mario Party games, however, as not only does everyone move at the same time, but minigames don’t happen every turn. Instead, minigames happen whenever coin balloons are obtained by a player. Once its minigame time, the roulette appears. At the start of Minigame Match, each player picks a Minigame Pack, which, like the Favorites Packs mentioned earlier, are bundles of 5 minigames. There are many different packs in the game, many of which are unlocked after completing Minigame Island for the first time. When the minigame roulette appears, each player chooses a minigame from their selected Minigame Pack, and then one is randomly selected. The player or players that got the coin balloons are given a slightly higher chance of having their minigame chosen. Throughout Minigame Match, Players can use items to mess with each other, such as stealing stars or coins, or affect each other’s’ movement. At the end, bonus stars are awarded, and the winner is determined by who has the most stars, as well as coins if stars are tied. Minigame Match is actually a lot of fun and plays a lot like classic Mario Party. The real, glaring problem with this mode, however, is that the board is not only incredibly simplistic, it’s also…the only one. There’s only one board. As fun as this mode can be, the fact that there is only this one, arguably small board, means that it becomes very stale very quickly. Had there been a selection of boards, even with just a little bit of variety like Mario Party Star Rush’s Balloon Bash mode, this problem would be less glaring.
The next two modes are relatively smaller, being Championship Battles, which pitches players against each other in a best of three or best of five set-up, and Decathlon, giving players five or ten minigames to aim to get the best record in. Championship Battles is a very quick mode, but is the best way to play around with the various Minigame Packs in short bursts. Decathlon is also relatively quick mode, and also has a different selection of minigames depending on if Half Decathlon or full Decathlon is picked, and can get decently competitive for the best record as well. That being said, I found myself only playing these modes a few times, as I, and the others I was playing with, preferred to play the longer, more fleshed out Minigame Match. If we wanted to quickfire some minigames, we’d instantly jump into 100 Minigames instead.
All in all, the gameplay of Mario Party: The Top 100 is fairly solid and enjoyable. While not all modes are equally as replayable, the core aspect of the game, which is clearly its minigames, is incredibly solid. If Minigame Match offered more boards to play on, then the game, arguably, would immediately have more replay value to more than just its minigames.
Mario Party: The Top 100 does a great job updating all of the minigames. Visually, every minigame fits within the same, updated art and visual style, which is far more prominent on the older minigames from the N64 era. Everything looks concise, and while the game isn’t visually amazing for the 3DS, the 3D, when used, looks nice too. The game doesn’t look bad at all, so overall, it’s pretty standard for a 3DS game, especially compared to the previous Mario Party releases on it. One thing that actually surprised me, however, is the game’s soundtrack. Not only were 100 minigames brought back, but a ton of songs from each of these Mario Party games were brought back and updated, much like the visuals to the minigames themselves. While not every song for each minigame returns, a handful come from each game. For example, the original song for Mario Party 5’s Leaf Leap isn’t present, and instead, the minigame shares themes with Mario Party 7’s Pokey Pummel. There are many instances of this throughout the game, but this doesn’t take away from the minigames at all. Nearly all of the updated songs sound very nice, as well. Additionally, much to my own surprise, every victory theme was also updated. Each victory theme of the ten main entries to the Mario Party series plays to its corresponding minigame on its results screen, which makes for a fun callback to the original games.
Anyone who watched the analysis I did on this game before its release knows that I held out hope that Mario Party: The Top 100 would still deliver and be a good entry in the series, one that would be a fun celebration of the series as a whole. In terms of its minigames, I have to say that a good job was done there! The minigames are honestly fun, many being my own personal favorites from each game. They all play fairly well too, so in terms of the minigames, there isn’t much problem. Overall, however? Aside from its minigames, Mario Party: The Top 100 is, unfortunately, lacking in content. Minigame Island is an alright single-player mode. The other modes, being Minigame Match, Championship Battles, and Decathlon, are all better enjoyed when playing with other people…yet despite this, the latter two are too quick, and Minigame Match lacks enough variety to have much replay value with the same group of friends. I enjoyed my time with Mario Party: The Top 100, but I can’t help but feel some major opportunities were missed beyond the focus on Minigames, which unfortunately left every other aspect of the game lacking any real impact.
I give this game ⅗ stars.
Mains: Link (64), Peach & Young Link (Melee), Toon Link & Peach (Brawl), Toon Link, Peach & Lucas (Smash for 3DS/Wii U)