Mario Party 9 boasts the introduction of boss battles. These fights pit you and your friends, or AI opponents if you don’t have any friends, against the likes of a Whomp, Blooper, King Bob-Omb, and of course Bowser. Each battle requires minor cooperation amongst it’s competitors who will gain points for dealing damage to their over-sized adversaries. The usual dirty tactics that come with a round of Mario Party are still very much alive. The other noteworthy difference is how you’ll be navigating every board. Players each roll their own dice blocks but now everyone moves at the same time, giving you more opportunities to hinder your opponents or even yourself. The player who’s turn it currently is, is considered to be the captain. Captains will receive bonuses during boss battles depending on their performance as well as the teams. While captaining your vehicle you’ll also be able too snag any mini-stars lying around the map. Captains also have the added bonus of picking the mini-game, adding a bit of strategy into the mix. It’s not always beneficial too be captain though. Like the mini-stars, the mini-ztars, which subtract from your total, also litter the board.
For the most part however, Mario Party 9 holds true too chaotic board game that has been bringing both core and casual gamers together since the N64. Mini-games consist of button smashing, racing, puzzles, brawls, and all the other mainstays of the series. Skill has made it’s way back thankfully but luck is still too much of a major factor. Fortunately it’s not over-bearing like it was in Mario Party 8. Still it’s very possible that whoever is leading for the majority of the game will drop a few places by the end of it. Trust me I know. I’ve often lost what I thought was a safe lead in the latter turns of the game. I even managed to lose a 20 mini-star lead on the very last turn that landed my friend on a Bowser space, which so happened to be the very last space. So yes be ready to scream obscenities and punch your couch cushions as your lead rapidly vanishes much to your friends pleasure’s. The luck factor being as big as it is, diminishes from the value of the mini-games as a whole. I’m not saying whoever wins the most winning games should win the entire game but it should be a larger influence.
Character selection is lacking unfortunately. A mere twelve characters are available. Now you may be saying that’s how it’s always been but I was hoping there would have a bigger variety this time around. Fans of Boo, Dry Bones, or Toadette will be disappointed about their removal. Instead we have Koopa, Shy Guy, and Kamek added to the usual group of Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Wario, Walugi, Yoshi, Birdo, and Toad. Maybe I’m just feeling lost without my mischievous buddy Boo but why not have some more additions or even some cross universe characters such as Link, Fox, or Samus.
The selection of stages consist of seven unique places. All the maps are enjoyable besides DK’s Jungle Ruins, which changes the currency from stars to bananas. These bananas are much more common in this short circular stage with no boss fights. It’s a change of pace but an unsatisfactory one. All the other maps were very well crafted however. Each vary in length, bonuses, and dangers. Stages like Magma Mine, Boo’s Horror Castle, or Blooper Beach, has players attempting to outrun the hazards that they present. If the player vehicle gets caught the captain will pay the price of half of their mini-stars. Every map has it’s hook ,or hooks, that aid in the unpredictable nature of the game. Something that comes as a disappointment about these maps is the set amount of time it takes to finish them. Unlike previous games you don’t have the option to choose the amount of turns each player gets. So no more pulling all-nighters by playing a couple of fifty round games.
Mario Party 9 is a much-needed and refreshing entry to the series. What was becoming stagnant has now been saved, for the time-being. If you’ve been enjoying the series since day one then you’ll certainly continue to do so. If your new too Mario Party or hoping that Nd Cube will give you a reason to come back then this also the time to jump in. Although the developers seem too have sacrificed some enjoyable features of the older games the benefits of the new ones outweigh the lose of old. Luck still plays a little bit to much of a deciding role in the winner but this is balanced out by the degree of skill that it takes for most mini-games. This doesn’t stop Mario Party 9 from being a great game to get together with some friends and stab each other in the back, all while enjoying the classic Mario world.