GAMECUBE REVIEW: MARIO PARTY 7

The first thing that I noticed about Mario Party 7 is that the graphics make everything look as though they were designed by Fisher Price. After playing the game it feels as though the gameplay was also created by Fisher Price. Hey baby, let's shake, rattle and roll.

I don't know if I've outgrown this game or what. At my age I've pretty much outgrown everything - including my size-36 waist. I've played most of the Mario Party games and all I can think of is that they would be good for young kids' birthday parties and not much more. They are too cute for me and lack any real substance but I can see a niche for such a game. What I don't really get is that this series hasn't really progressed in the last few games. It's the same old thing with slight variations on the mini-games. I don't think there's an original element in this entire game and that's just not acceptable. Given the fact that this is Nintendo's flagship mascot you would expect a better presentation than this. But Nintendo knows that most kids won't complain since this isn't meant to be a single-player platform game. But I will take it upon myself to complain.

The storyline is so lame that the game would have been better off without it. Treat this like a board game where the winner is the person that collects the most stars. Using a blend of luck and skill, you roll the dice and land on various squares, some which will require you to play mini-games. There are more than 80 mini-games contained here and while it's interesting to see what the next one is, after you play each of them a few times the novelty will wear off faster than a sugar rush.

I won't ruin the surprises of the mini-games but they are varied and quite fun to play the first few go-rounds. The games are varied in that they require different configurations of players. There are single-player mini-games and multi-player mini-games that range from racing to mole whacking. A handful of games require the use of a microphone to activate the control commands. It's not entirely necessary but it allows the kids the chance to shout out loud and release some of their pent-up energy.

Sharing each of the four controllers with another player, the game accommodates eight players altogether making it perfect for birthday parties or other social gathering where the medium age is six.

Players choose from a variety of characters including the famous Mario brothers. The premise has you and your gang vacationing on a cruise ship. Old Bowser is feeling left out since he wasn't invited and he's out to wreak havoc on your outing. At various times, while on the board, he will create tornadoes and other anomalies that can knock you back several squares. It's a wild card feature that keeps the game from being dominated from gamers with better-than-average skills.

It looks colorful, if not a little Playskool-ish. The controls are easy enough to access with most games requiring only a couple of buttons to operate. Just about any kid that can pick his nose can pick up this game and play it almost immediately. The single-player mode is really dull. Mario Party games are always meant to be played at parties. The overshadowing joy of the social experience keeps kids from noticing just how shallow this game really is.

The characters have very little interaction and the cutscenes are low quality with very little voiceover work. The comments that you do hear are repeated endlessly. The music is happy and full of variation. It's got the requisite upbeat arcade melodies that kids love with some happening party beats in the background.

Despite what I say parents will continue to purchase a game in this series for their kids every Holiday season. Hey, if I could corral eight screaming, rapscallions into one room for a couple of hours of peacefulness, it just might be worth the price.

Preview By Vaughn

This Mario dude sure throws a lot of parties. I'm glad I don't live next door to him. That's all I need is to see a drunken Wario taking a leak on my lawn at 4:00 am. Oh, it's not those kind of parties? Well, good. I think....

What can be said of Mario Party 7? This will be the fourth GameCube installment of the popular series and it doesn't look like much has changed. We're unsure if the Microphone peripheral packaged with the last game will be included and/or supported this time around. By my account it was a gimmick, like all Nintendo peripherals, to throw you off the "been there, done that" scent and I doubt there is a game industry pundit in the vicinity of 20,000 miles that wouldn't agree with me.

More mini-games, more Mario, more eveything that makes Mario Party exactly what it is and has been for 8 years now. Don't expect any surprises.

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System: GC
Dev: Hudson
Pub: Nintendo
Release: Nov 2005
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.0
GRAPHICS
3.5
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
3.0