|Nintendo Reviews Rating:
|Posted: November 1st, 2003
|Mario Party 4 is the first party game for Nintendo Gamecube. The fourth in the series marks a turning point because the
switch from Nintendo 64 to Gamecube occurred. Did the developers really push for a fun time on GCN? Check out the
I expected a lot on the sound side of this game because of the leap from N64 to GCN. I have to say I didn't get exactly what
I expected, but it is still not that bad. First off, there's Dolby Surround sound. This makes the music and sound effects
audibly better. Secondly, the sound effects are on par. We've heard many of them before, but there are some nice new
ones, and they usually don't get redundant.
The music side isn't so great. Some tunes are catchy, but some are downright annoying. Imagine playing a board with tons
of Whomps or Thwomps and have silly music that doesn't even go along with the level. Some of the music doesn't exactly
fit the mini-game it goes to, either. But when it does, the music can really set the stage for an exciting, or wild game.
The voice samples are redundant, no question. They really get annoying after a while; especially when players press L on
the board a million times! The characters' voices are the same each time! Although they get annoying, at least there are
good differences between each one and they sound realistic. There are also plenty to hear. When it's all mixed together,
this isn't a great sounding game, but at least there's Dolby to spruce it up a bit.
For the most part, the control is average; nothing great, but nothing terribly wrong either. The mini-games are mostly
simple and self-explanatory. However that's on the control side. Some of the mini-game choices aren't so great, but that
will be discussed in Design. You can go through menus somewhat with ease, but you'll notice that some of the ways they
set them up are weird. Like if you want to just play one mini-game, you can't skip the instructions in Mini-Game Room.
That really stinks because you have to load the instructions, then load the game. Then if you want to play it again, you
have to do the same thing. Boy, that gets old fast! Also, you can accidentily press B and in most cases, that erases all
previous options and makes you go through all of them again. You really wish they'd come up with a more useful menu
design at times.
The major flaw in this game, despite all of the above, is the loading. It is extremely slow in just about everything. It loads
slow to start up, to enter a room, to start a mini-game, etc. If you pick an option from the main menu and you didn't really
want to go there, you have to wait 20 seconds (on average) for it to load. Then you have to press B and reload the main
menu. This really slows down the action and makes this game slowly paced.
Not too shabby in the graphics department. The resolution is set much
higher than previous games, and the characters designs are more
high-polygon. The lighting effects are spruced up a bit, and the game seems
to look so much better graphically.
The different camera angles can somewhat make the graphics lose their
quality, but not by much, and definitely not as much as in previous games.
Most games allow you to see exactly where you are, and even though you'd
think that DK would show up weird in some games, he looks just fine. The
same goes with characters who have very different shapes and sizes
compared to those of Mario. Everything seems to move flawlessly, and
framerate hardly ever takes a toll. This is a great looking game.
There's a lot of replay. Mario Party series has always been big on this. Although I say there's a lot, this game seems to get
older faster than previous games. Maybe that's because I am so used to this type of replay style, or maybe it's just the
game. Either way, here are the specifics: 40 mini-games that are actual mini-games, 2 mini-games on each board exclusive
to that board, Extra Room mini-games and 2 boards, 6 complete boards, etc.
Pretty much all of those numbers are less than what we expected. I mean Mario Party had 50 mini-games, Mario Party 2
and 64, and Mario Party 3 had 70 mini-games. I was expecting like 75 at least, even if some were old ones brought back
from previous games.
Speaking of low amount of mini-games, they all aren't that great of choices. It feels like the development team just kind
of quit on the job of making more better ones just so the game would be released sooner. However, the extra little games
like on the board and in the extra room are a plus because some of them on the board are hard to get to, forcing you to
play carefully, strategically and with some luck to even reach them. And most of them involve getting items and are pretty
The number of boards (only 6) isn't so bad because they are bigger and more detailed than previous games. You'll spend a
lot of time figuring out the best route to go on your adventure. You can't meet with players for duel games, but the extras
like Mini and Mega Mushrooms make up for that loss. Overall, this game will keep you playing for a long time, but
possibly not as long as some other Mario Party games.
After the originality of the first three games, I must say I am disappointed with Mario Party 4. There were a lot of chances
to come up with something new, and there really isn't much new. The Story mode allows you to collect presents, but who
wants to play by themselves anyway? The boards haven't changed much, except for the Bank spaces gone and the new
Mushroom system. That actually worked well; you have to use strategy to figure out when it's best to use your items, and
you can hold up to three.
Another plus to the design is the variety of new options such as team play. You can now play the board game as a 2 on 2
adventure, where two players play against two players for the most accumulative stars. The only difference is that there
are no 1 vs. 3 games and 2 vs. 2 games are always with your team partner, so you either win or lose together. This idea is
quite a lot of fun when you have four players who are willing to do this.
The disappointment comes to the mini-games. Not only is there fewer than ever before, some are very similar making it
seem like there are less. Like, three mini-games involve the same idea: Pressing buttons as fast as you can. This is
annoying because it basically just tests who can do it faster, and we've seen these games before; it really gets old. I'm not
going to say all the other ones, but this is something they could have improved on with more development time.
One positive thing is that there are some creative ideas that work. The mini-game "Dungeon Duos" is a blast! It requires
perfect precision in completing many tasks. Another fun game is "Blame it on the Crane". One player sits there trying to
grab three moving players with a crane. The three players try to use sneaky moves to get by you, making it fun. Many
simple ideas like "Hide and Go Boom" and "Bowser's Bigger Blast" are simple, yet exciting! These ideas collide with an
average board system and great multiplayer fun to make this, maybe not the best Mario Party, but certainly a lot of fun on
a rainy day!
Mario Party 4 can get boring as a one-player game, but it is total fun with four people. Just be warned of the slow pace
either way. If you're a fast-paced gamer, this may not be for you. There's still a lot to appreciate, including the above
average graphics and some really fun mini-games. The game doesn't pull through as a great multiplayer game, but it is
still a solid game in its own right.