While hardly a revolutionary entry in the series, Mario Party 6 still manages to be a fun experience.

User Rating: 7.7 | Mario Party 6 GC
Since the release of the original Mario Party, Nintendo has released a new entry in the series every year. After six entries in the series, it would seem as though developer Hudson Soft would finally be running out of steam. However, Mario Party 6 manages to come through with another batch of fun and inventive mini-games that make it worth a look. It's not a huge change from the rest of the series, but anyone who's stuck with it this long should check this game out. Anyone who hasn't played one of these games yet should definitely consider trying this entry. For those unfamiliar with the series, the main mode of play essentially runs like a board game. Four players take turns rolling a dice block and moving around a game board. Each player controls a character from the Mario series that they select themselves. Once all four have taken their turns, a mini-game begins. Winning a mini-game will net a player ten coins or more, depending on the situation. Coins are used to buy stars, which are necessary to win the game; whoever has the most stars at the end wins, while ties are determined by whoever has more coins. There are also orbs that can be either purchased or found on the game boards which allow you to alter your situation to your liking. Some will give you an opportunity to roll higher numbers with the dice, while others can set traps for your opponents. Still, the true stars of this title are the mini-games. Dozens of them have been created solely for this game. Some of them are four-player free-for-alls. Others are two-on-two team games, while still others are one-versus-three matches. There are also duel games where two players compete to win prizes from each other, and games where all four players have to fight off Bowser's evil schemes. They're all very inventive and fun to play, and there's no question that they're the best part of this package. However, there are a few contests that are pure games of chance, which is a lot less fun to play than a test of skill. These few games can be frustrating to lose, and can interrupt what would otherwise be a fun match. Despite that, the vast majority of the mini-games are a lot of fun to play, and are far and away the best thing to be found in this title. Aside from the normal games which are controlled by the GameCube controller, Mario Party 6 features the debut of mini-games that are controlled by a microphone. The GCN microphone comes packaged with the game and connects to the system through the second memory card slot. These games can be accessed from the main menu, or will show up during the course of regular gameplay. The games themselves will usually force you to do such things as give commands to an army, or pilot a tank. There's also an obstacle course for you to challenge if you feel up to it. You do have the option of controlling these games with the regular controller if you feel like it, but that takes away a bit of the fun of playing a voice-controlled game. The mic is usually quite responsive, though there's a almost always a short time-delay between when a command is given and when the game responds. The mic games are all quite enjoyable, though you may or may not care for them due to the rather unusual controls and the fact that they don't seem perfectly fine-tuned. In addition to the normal four-player Party Mode, there is a single-player Solo mode which allows one player to set out across a selection of one-way game boards in which they can play mini-games to collect coins. These boards are all relatively short, and you always have the ability to quit and save everything that you've earned. Coins that you earn in Solo Mode, as well as coins and stars that you earn in Party Mode, can be turned into stars which you can spend unlocking things in the Star Bank. By spending stars there, you can open new game boards in Party Mode and learn several different secrets about the game. There is also a Mini-Game Mode where you can play any mini-game that you've already played once in another mode, or take part in one of several different mini-game competitions. Probably the game's biggest flaw is that it turns into a game of chance far too often. It's very possible to utterly dominate the mini-games in Party Mode and still end up in last place. There are times when it's possible to do a complete and utter reversal of everyone's score and put the person who was in first place in dead last. It's also quite easy to steal an opponent's coins and stars by placing traps on the board. And the random placement of star spaces around the board can make the game seem especially frustrating for someone who can't seem to catch up with one. These problems might not be as much of a pain when playing with friends, but playing alone these can seem unusually aggravating as they appear to be completely random yet can come around absurdly often. Still, skill does usually win over luck, so outside of some occasional frustration you shouldn't end up completely losing faith in the game when something like that happens. The game's presentation is a colorful, cheerful setting which goes along well with the entire party theme. All of the boards are bright and lively and feature a number of different decorations that make them fun to look at. Mini-games all have their own environments that are given the same fun treatment as the game boards. Many of them have funny moving backgrounds that add a bit of levity to the proceedings. It's fun to watch the computer play the games sometimes just to take in all the different sights, but you might grow tired of that fairly quickly. The game's characters resemble the game's computer-rendered box art quite closely, making them look like moving action figures. It is a bit disappointing that they only seem to have a few movement cycles, and it can be annoying to watch them go through the exact same victory/defeat poses during every single game. This doesn't go beyond the realm of a minor annoyance however, so it doesn't drag the game's visuals that much. The sound is an upbeat selection of party tunes that make the game sound exciting and engaging. All of the music sounds like it is intended to lighten the mood, so it should be easy to enjoy all of the different songs. There are also a number of different voice samples which are added for each of the characters. Different players will express joy or disdain every time that they gain or lose something in the game. The samples feel like they repeat a bit too often, but that isn't too much of a problem. It's just that it would have been nice if they either made more of them or just didn't play them so often. There are also a number of comical sound effects which are played quite often during every part of the game which add to the feel of it. Sound is very strong in this game, and appropriate for this sort of title. Overall, Mario Party 6 isn't a complete reinvention of the Mario Party series, but it's still fun. There actually isn't a story mode this time around, which means that the bare-bones plot about the Sun and Moon characters doesn't get much attention. But that's hardly a problem, as unlocking things through the star bank is enough reason to keep playing for most people. If you're tired of the series by now you won't be brought back by this game, but it still seems like the best title that it's seen in a while. If you're still into Mario Party, or if you want to try the series out for the first time, it would be a good idea to give this a look. It's not perfect by any means, but it's still a lot of fun.

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