Mario Party DS Hands-On
The DS has been out far too long with no Mario Party game, but Nintendo will soon fix that little oversight.
No Nintendo platform worth its salt is without a Mario Party game for long, and indeed the Japanese powerhouse has siphoned off a tiny fraction of its mammoth cash flow to fund development on Mario Party DS for, uh, the DS. The game is due out in the middle of next month, and we got to try it out briefly at a recent Nintendo press event to see what's new and what's old. The brief introductory sequences show Bowser and that no-good son of his luring Mario and the whole gang (even Wario!) to his castle with the promise of tasty snacks. Instead of snacks, they get shrunk. Tiny Mario, tiny game system. Get it?
You'll therefore play through a bunch of minigames that have you interacting with real-life objects inflated to huge proportions. The first traditional Mario Party-style board game we played had us hopping squares and rolling dice in an oversized garden setting, and there will naturally be others of this nature. In addition to the standard board-game interface this series is known for, you can also access the minigames directly once you've unlocked them, whether it's to play them for fun or for a high score. In any mode involving minigames, you'll be able to filter the games you'll encounter. For example, you can choose not to play any minigames involving the microphone, or only stick to the simplest games, presumably for younger players. Finally, a puzzle mode will also offer you the chance to play a variety of classic puzzle minigames from past Mario Party games.
As you'd expect, the minigames themselves will largely depend on the DS's unique input features. We played one game that had us racing little wind-up cars across a cluttered table. However, each car would only go a few inches before needing a rewind, so we'd have to steer a little bit, then wind with the stylus, then steer a little bit more. Other minigames relied on more classic controls, including one where we had to hop across a series of logs by pressing the button indicated on each log, and we had to do it faster than our artificial-intelligence opponent could. Based on the minigame-selection screen, it looks as if there will be several dozen minigames in the final package, once you've unlocked everything.
From what we could tell, Mario Party DS is standard Mario Party through and through. Considering that this is such a multiplayer-focused game, the most impressive thing we noticed about the DS version is that you'll be able to play a full four-player board game with only one cartridge via download play. We'll let you know how that feature works (along with everything else) when Mario Party DS ships next month.
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