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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Party Game

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

Hudson

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q4 2002

 

 

- Fun group game

- Lots of mini-games

- Sharp graphics, control and sound

- Good for all ages

- Easy control schemes

 

 

- Wouldn’t even rank as a single-player game

- Not enough character selection

 

 

Review: Fuzion Frenzy (XBox)

 

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Mario Party 4

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

The main problem with so-called party games is that they’re most enjoyable when played with a bunch of friends.  This requirement can be hard to meet unless you actually have friends.  And further, friends that want to play.  That’s the crux of Mario Party 4 (MP4).

 

mario-party-4-1.jpg (152749 bytes)          mario-party-4-2.jpg (115482 bytes)

 

As a single-player experience MP4 lacks in excitement and any kind of addictive fun factor.  Everything else is done well, but what’s the point if I’m not having fun?  The exact opposite occurs when playing with a few other players, which, admittedly, stems from the chance to shout, “In your face!” at your hapless friends.  Or even chuckle evilly as usually reserved for games like Monopoly or Risk.  The social interaction is what makes MP4.

 

As usual though, I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

In case you missed them, there have been three previous Mario Party games, all following the same principles and gameplay dynamics.  You move around a game board collecting various items, trying to screw over opponents while earning more stars and coins than them.  At the end of each round (or turns) a mini-game commences.  The mini-games come in three flavors: 1 on 3, 2 on 2, and everyone for themselves.  What happens during the mini-game ranges wildly in MP4; from “Tree Stomp” – three players in tree-stump robots attempt to crush the 4th player – to “Right Oar Left” – paddling a boat in a coordinated manner through a short winding course, you’re never left for wanting variety.

 

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And in terms of variety, MP4 scores high.  There are games based on timing, luck, reflexes, button mashing, coordination, cooperation, path finding, and aim.  No complaints about the mini-games besides the fact you have to unlock them through the competition or story mode before being able to practice them.  There are more than 50 mini-games (including some hosted by Bowser) with an assortment of boards to conquer, including two run by a couple of Thwomps.

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My biggest gripe is the character selection.  First, I wanted more.  There are 8 to choose from but it still didn’t feel like enough.  I’d peg the next installment at 10 to 12 characters.  Secondly, I’d throw attributes into the mix (as done in Mario Kart).  Then at least there would have to be some tactical consideration in the mini games and even during the character selection.  It just makes sense and I’m left scratching my head as to why it wasn’t done this time out.

 

mario-party-4-3.jpg (146224 bytes)          mario-party-4-4.jpg (117526 bytes)

 

Control, graphics, sound – everything that’s part of the more definable aspects of a game are find and dandy.  Big, bright colors, constantly moving backgrounds, easy to grasp control, sound that’s crisp and avoids monotony, etc. – elements expected from a Nintendo game.

 

But the fun factor it very small when played alone – some things are just better when done as a group.  Trying the Adventure mode by myself it took every effort not to start playing Godzilla Destroy All Monsters Melee instead.  It’s entirely boring to watch three AI opponents take their turns – you need a crowd of real live people to play MP4.

 

mario-party-4-5.jpg (165856 bytes)          mario-party-4-6.jpg (147694 bytes)

 

If your house is party central, you can’t go wrong with Mario Party 4.  It’s got everything the previous games had (plus more) to keep groups of two or more happily playing.  If you’re all by yourself, go elsewhere for your gaming kicks unless you can appreciate a slower pace.

 

- Omni

(November 4, 2002)

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