Super Mario Party: Introduction
As a kid, and an adult, the most fun thing about playing video games with friends is screaming at each other and the television.
[Good] Mario Party puts people in situations that promote screaming at your friends– and that’s what makes it so fun. The strategy, the chance, the bullshit, the stress, the variety, the skill, the luck, and the back-stabbing– all mixes together to create a close-to-perfect concoction of good, loud fun. That being said, Mario Party isn’t perfect. I think it’s widely agreed upon that Mario Party 1, 2, and 3 are the best ones. I believe Mario Party 9 & 10 are not too bad, either. But none of them are perfect.
Here’s what I think Super Mario Party would contain:
MASSIVE variety and game library
There are over 10 Mario Party games out there. This sounds crazy, but imagine if they took the top 20% of the mini-games from every single game and put them in one SUPER game. They could call it SUPER MARIO PARTY. (Edit: I’ve found out that they are doing something similar! It’s called Mario Party: The Top 100. If there’s interest I can do a review/update on that game when it comes out)
4v, 2v2, 1v3. Nothing else.
Don’t limit the game pool by having different game sets for “Battle Royale for Coins” or a “Bowser Mini-game”, when you do that you force loyal players to play the same 3 games multiple times a night– it gets old quick. Just have your standard 4 vs eachother, 2v2, and 1v3.
Never “Pure Luck” Games
Never, ever, ever make a game that solely relies on pure absolute luck. If an outcome can be decided by a dice-roll, it’s not worth playing. Leave that for the board-game, such as chance-time. Luck is welcome, of course, but let players at least work to push the odds in their favor in some way.
Prioritize un-played games
If a mini-game hasn’t been played in this session, give it a higher chance to be played.
Not too short
Mini-games shouldn’t have a short timer. Mini-games should only be less than 10 seconds long in the event of a freak Bumper-balls game where everyone falls off in the beginning.
See below, the oddly promiscuous Shake It Up from Mario Party 8.
The average experience with this entire mini-game is 48 seconds long, as you can see from the video. But only 5 of those seconds are gameplay.
That is way, way, way too short. Let us jerk off our controllers for at least 15 seconds. 5 seconds is absolutely nothing.
Simple is still fun
Crazy Cutters was fun as hell. And all it really is is a tracing game. What makes it fun is that you’re going up against your friends in a tight battle for points in which every millimeter matters. Put us up against each other in more odd feats of strength. Who can tap the A-button the most times in 30 seconds? I’ll never forget the entire room of kids falling over after tapping A as fast as we could for an entire 30 seconds. It was tiring, we were panting, then we hear Yoshi cheering from the television– he won by 3 points! Everyone screams!
No more boss battles
The boss battles were often long, boring games. And since they were boss battles, we played them more often, and got repetitive much quicker.
Ratio of Board Game to Mini Games
Mario Party seems to get this wrong once in a while, where they have way too much board game time and not enough time dedicated to playing games. The board game gives the mini-games meaning, so we definitely need that. But it should probably fall somewhere around 60% Mini-games, 40% Board game.
That leaves us with limited board game time, especially when split amongst 4 players… How can we trim down the experience?
No more lengthy board events
Everyone groans when someone hits a green question mark spot, or a special block is hit and takes us off to do some extremely repetitive and annoying task/event/whatever. Especially in Mario Party 10, on the water level. If you land near the eel spot, you’ll have to watch the animation happen for 10 seconds, and you get 3 choices for which block to hit. You get zero hints, so it is really just a random item. WHY are you wasting our time with this? The result is the same no matter what– so why are we being forced to sit through this over and over and over? If you want to give us a random item, roll a die in the backend and just give us the item.
Long board events are okay only if it’s rare. If it’s common, make it quick.
Less complicated board routes
Everyone also groans when someone hits the back button to view the map. “Hmmm, what’s the best way to get to the star?” says that one friend who takes 5 minutes to make a sub-par decision.
I do think that the all-in-one cart idea from the newer Mario Parties is actually a good idea– it simplifies things and shortens the time people need to spend thinking on the board game.
Get rid of items
Items on the board are a bit contrived and gives a huge advantage to someone who’s already played the game. It’s pretty annoying to have to explain to your friends “when is the most optimal time to use that item that you just called useless”. Just take them out, or simplify them. That damn genie item that took you directly to the star for only 50 coins ruined one of the Mario Parties.
Entire Game Length
15 minutes is too short, and 2 hours is too long. I would say 40 minutes to an hour is the perfect Mario Party length. Of course, let players decide on a length, but design for 40-60 minutes. Perhaps let them decide to choose from 20 minutes to 90 minutes. The shorter the game is, the less players care about the outcome. The longer a game is, the less enticing starting a game is. How many LONG games have your friends saved because it got too late at night? The next day you never resumed the game– you just started a new one.
Board Game Spots
Bring it back. It’s iconic, and gets everyone scared. Keep the drastic outcomes rare, though. It shouldn’t be a common occurrence that two players swap Star Totals. I don’t want to feel like nothing I do in the game matters because of Chance Time.
Keep this board event short if it doesn’t lead to a mini-game. Mini-games should not select from a special pool of mini-games.
Ideas: Have it select from the 1v3 playlist and pit everyone against a person selected at random.
Bowser Mini-game Modifiers:
Select a 4v4 playlist game and put a new & weird win condition on it. Randomize what place the players should strive to be in. Imagine this:
Mario lands on a Bowser spot. Everyone laughs at him. Bowser decided to start a Bowser Mini-game, everyone gets a little nervous. Bowser decided to play a 4v4 game, and rolls a 1-4 dice. It lands on a 3. “Whoever is in 3rd place won’t lose a star.” He says. Everyone will strive to become in 3rd place. Suddenly, you’ve multiplied the total number of mini-games in your pool. With this new win condition, everyone will be playing differently, in effect, creating a fresh take on the game.
Pushing it even further, imagine if he rolled a 3, and said “Everyone should try to get in 3rd place. Except you, Peach. Peach needs to be in 2nd place.” Suddenly you have chaos, 3 players trying to become 3rd place, and Peach is stressing out about maintaining her spot in 2nd place.
I think that simple game modifiers like this would keep the game fresh for an extremely long time.
Let friends ruin their friends plans. Get creative with the sabotage. Maybe different type of “sabotage your friends” spots.
Boo Spots can steal coins & stars.
Koopa Spots can send a blue shell to the player in first place.
Flame Spots can make a player on fire for the next (eligible) mini-game.
Slow-Boy Spots can make a player go in slightly slower motion their next mini-game.
Etc. Variety of game modifiers an add a lot of replay value. But don’t overwhelm the game with these. Make them rare. 0-3 per game.
Other Ideas & Mechanics
Point a “gun” at Yoshi’s head, and give someone the trigger
Of course, not an actual gun, I’m talking about sic’ing King Boo on your best friend. Give players a chance to truly screw over their friends. This was true with the Boo spots in the older Mario Parties. So many thrown controllers.
Evolving Boardgame Soundtracks
The music often grows stale quickly– an annoying and repetitive song can create severe audio fatigue quickly, especially since we spend a lot of our time playing on the board. The music should evolve as players move through the board. Get creative with that– Mario games usually have some pretty great soundtracks.
The Perfect Mario Party Game
- 45 minutes total
- 6-8 4vs mini-games
- 1-3 2v2 mini-games
- 1-3 1v3 mini-games
- 0-2 chance times
- 1-4 bowser spots
- 0-2 bowser mini-games
- 0-3 player sabotages
- 0-1 drastic chance time outcomes
- 0-1 epic board events
This is an example of a balanced Mario Party game. In the newer games such as 9 & 10, I only played 2 mini-games and 2 boss mini-games. That’s 4 total– that’s nothing. Of course, my numbers should be tweaked with testing, but I think my guesstimations should make for a fun formula.
Also, games should not be limited to this– if somehow there are 3 drastic chance time outcomes– let it happen! This is what makes Mario Party fun, the unexpected surprises and comeback stories. But it can’t be fun if extreme things happen every game, then it just gets boring.
I hope, in my lifetime, we see something like Super Mario Party get released. I think it’d be extremely fun for a long, long time. I sure do miss screaming on my couch with friends over a mini-game.