Now that the dust has settled from E3, I find myself being more agreeable to Nintendo’s presentation than I first was. With the hopes of seeing so many more games announced (and more coverage of the games announced at last year’s conference), I felt let down. Now, I am at peace with it, because we have some solid games coming down the pipeline, including Pokémon: Let’s Go!, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and the surprise announcement of Super Mario Party, the newest entry into the 20-year old series.
Some of the most recent games in the friendship-ruining franchise left me with a sour taste in my mouth (*cough* the car mechanic *cough*), and I can’t help but hope for a return to form with this October’s release. With details scarce and no word on when we’ll learn more in the future, let’s take a retrospective look at the mainline, home-console games ranked from worst to best.
10. Mario Party 9
Mario Party 9, released in 2012 on the Wii, saw the addition of one of the most divisive gameplay features in the history of the series; the car mechanic. In my mind, traveling as a group across the boards took out almost all of the fun and strategy behind screwing over your opponents with items and trickery that make the other games so fun.
Standout Minigame: Launch Break
9. Mario Party 10
The Wii U’s Mario Party 10 featured the same stupid car mechanic that made its predecessor so infuriating. A saving grace, player could use select Amiibo to unlock a smaller game board that played like the original games with every playing walking around the board independently. The only interesting mechanic in this game was the inclusion of Bowser Party Mode, which allowed one player to play against everyone else (and also allowed 5 people to play at once).
Standout Minigame: Foo Me Once
8. Mario Party 3
Mario Party 3 switched out Toad as the host, rehashed a lot of old content and didn’t provide much in the way of anything truly different. It was the first to feature a single-player storyline, and didn’t have the terrible, let’s-all-move-at-the-same-time car mechanic (can you tell how much of a bummer that whole idea was?), but it still felt like a dud.
Standout Minigame: Picture Imperfect
7. Mario Party
The first in the series, released in 1998 for the Nintendo 64, Mario Party was a nice jumping off point for some of the best in the series. Some of the gameplay mechanics were clunky and the graphics needed some major improvements, but it was a solid foundation for what was to come.
Standout Minigame: Bumper Balls
6. Mario Party 5
Mario Party 5, the second in the series to be released on the GameCube, was a decent game with some compelling minigames. The single-player mode was just ok, and the game made a shift from items to capsules, which allowed for a slew of vending/gum ball machine-related mechanics.
Standout Minigame: Defuse or Lose
5. Mario Party 7
The last game to be released on the GameCube, introduced 8-player mini games and kept the microphone play intact. Criticized for its lack of originality, it was an ok swan song for The Wii’s predecessor, and switched up the formula just enough to make it a worthy entry into the series.
Standout Minigame: Tile and Error
4. Mario Party 6
Mario Party 6 introduced the GameCube’s microphone peripheral into the gameplay, which was an innovative feature at the time. The game also provided a day and night system of time, which created dynamic boards and minigames, which was praised among fans and industry critics.
Standout Minigame: Daft Rafts
3. Mario Party 8
Say what you will about the Wii’s gimmicky motion controls, I love ‘em! Mario Party 8 brought an entirely different dimension of gameplay with the inclusion of the Wii’s greatest selling point. To me, it felt like the stakes of many of the minigames were raised; making each victory all that much more worthy.
Standout Minigame: Speedy Graffiti
2. Mario Party 2
Mario Party 2, released one year after the first game, build upon the foundation of the first, while bringing better and more challenging minigames and adorable attention to detail with all player dressing for the theme of the board. This was also the first game in the series to introduce items and minigame types.
Standout Minigame: Hot Rope Jump
1. Mario Party 4
The jump to GameCube with Mario Party 4 brought the graphical advancements needed to give the series a fresh boost. The new team battle mode allowed for a different type of competitive play from the original formula, while the custom minigame packs allowed fans of the game to play their way. With improved gameplay mechanics, some of the most inventive minigames to date, Mario Party 4 truly takes the crown as the best in the series.
Standout Minigame: Booksquirm
Super Mario Party releases October 5, 2018 on the Nintendo Switch. As we wait for more information on gameplay mechanics, new features and a complete character roster, would you rank the series in a different order? Sound off in the comments!