It’s time to get the party started with Mario and friends as he returns with a greatest hits compilation of the top 100 minigames ever. Get ready to roll for multiplayer mayhem in four separate modes on the 3DS, while resorting to underhanded tactics, a little skill and a lot of pot luck. Though most of the minigames are top-notch, the modes quickly become bland with lacklustre settings.
For every Mario Party fan, there’s a brief moment where you believe that everything will work out just fine. It usually happens before you hit the single player campaign, where the glass is still half full and there’s no spilt milk. And then it hits you. Over the sounds of “Wario’s the winner”, “Mamma-mia” and “Yahoo, I’m the best” character sayings, your head falls into your hands and you begin crying Baby Mario-esque tears. The flicker of hope within the Mario Party cartridge is snuffed out and you’re back to square one, praying the next Mario Party will show its best hand.
Superfluous descriptions aside, Mario Party: The Top 100 has the potential to become one of the best Mario Party titles with out-of-the-box minigames that fans know and love. But somewhere along the road to superstardom, the game’s developer Nd Cube took a wrong turn. While it doesn’t quite reach the lows of Mario Party: Island Tour and it does supersede the car’s inclusion in Mario Party 10, there’s something terribly amiss. Mario Party: The Top 100 only features one board.
While customisation has never been one of the series’ strengths, the game’s lack of content is troubling. With four in-game modes, including the Championship and Decathlon modes, along with the title’s single player campaign Minigame Island, the one-board-rules-all feature for Minigame Match crushes the atmosphere like an untimely, crude joke.
On starting Minigame Match in multiplayer, either with the CPU or with friends in download or local play, you’ll each get to choose your character and one minigame pack, consisting of five minigames. Fortunately, these are nicely categorised into 1-v-3, 2-on-2, free-for-all and themed packs such as snow and ice, woodland, skill and lucky packs, meaning there’s more chance you’ll play the minigames you prefer. The board, although small, is littered with item blocks, collectible stamps and one item shop where you can choose to spend any coins collected so far in exchange for move boosting mushrooms, poison mushrooms and even a Bowser suit. Depending on how many turns you’ve chosen, the game will randomly place minigame coin balloons and stars across the board for players to gravitate towards.
When a player lands on a minigame balloon space, all players must choose a game from their previously selected pack so the RNG wheel of fortune can randomly pick a player. Once the spinner has selected, that player immediately gets double the amount of coins no matter where they place in the minigame. Up to 20 coins can be awarded to one player should they win the game; a huge game changer providing they spend their coins wisely. With such an emphasis on minigames, it’s rather disappointing that only one or two balloons are placed on the board at any one time, leaving players to go a couple of turns or more without capturing a balloon.
Putting Minigame Match to one side, Mario Party: The Top 100 also features a solid 2 to 3-hour single player campaign mode. For the most part, Minigame Island is entirely enjoyable. Instead of a board, players can advance through up to four worlds, each consisting of their own subsections. With the ability to save your progress after each world and exit the game, players can easily come back to it without losing their place. It’s a handy feature for those who want to unlock some minigames for Freeplay, Championship and Decathlon modes, without having to play through the entire campaign first. Yet with that said, minigames are the only unlockables you’ll find in The Top 100, making its replay value next to nothing.
It’s in Minigame Island, however, where you’ll play some of the game’s best minigames. Spanning across 10 home consoles, there’s at least one minigame from every iteration of Mario Party included. Get your fingers in a twist over Revers-a-Bomb from Mario Party 4, fight for your balance in Later Skater from Mario Party 5 and memorise the pattern in The Beat Goes On from Mario Party 3. Perhaps the best moments in The Top 100 arrive with boss battles at the end of each world. There’s nothing better than taking on DK or Bowser in a fun showdown.
Unfortunately not every minigame is without flaw. Although each one has been remastered to suit the 3DS, games such as Rockin’ Raceway, Speeding Bullets and Button Mashers each have issues. While the former minigame feels slow and unwieldy, Speeding Bullets requires cumbersome tilt motion controls, leaving both equally frustrating to play. On the other hand, Button Mashers isn’t practical for hands or fingers that can’t tap the L, R, A, B, X and Y buttons at the same time. The Top 100 minigames is a fabulous concept, it’s just a shame that the greatest hits compilation doesn’t make the cut.
If you’d rather host a quick gathering, The Top 100’s Championship and Decathlon modes are fun ice-breakers for up to four players. In Championship, you’ll play between three to five minigame battles to decide the winner, while in Decathlon mode you can play a set of five or ten minigames and try to achieve the highest score. Though Championship mode feels shoehorned into the title, Decathlon mode holds itself in a higher regard, giving fans more meat than bone on their party platter.
Mario Party: The Top 100 often misses more targets than it hits, but it does so in good spirit with its upbeat music, the inclusion of download play and nostalgic artwork. Unfortunately, you can only mask a bad smell for so long before it turns foul. On handheld, the series is in desperate need of a spin cycle overhaul. While it’s got the minigame polish, it lacks the content to be squeaky clean. For now, we’re hanging this one out to dry.
Based on the PAL version.