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Mario Party 9 (Wii) artwork

Mario Party 9 (Wii) review


"Mario Party 9 operates differently. Rather than four players wandering around a board to buy a star from Toad, all the players travel together in a single vehicle, taking turns at being behind the wheel. The boards aren’t circuits; they have a start and a finish, and they feel like the right length – not too short that the game is over too quickly, not too long that the game drags on. If you only have two or three human players, you don’t have to have an AI controlled character if you don’t want to."



Between 1998 and 2007 there were 8 Mario Party games released, not counting a couple of spinoffs on Nintendo’s handheld devices. The first Mario Party was a unique experience, allowing up to four players to compete on various Nintendo-themed boards, full of random occurrences that ranged from hilarious to downright unfair (often both at once, depending on where you were sitting). The mini-games were short, usually lasting a minute, and they let players compete in a variety of ways. The second Mario Party game was arguably an improvement on the first game, but from the third title onwards, it was a downward spiral of stagnation – all the good mini-game ideas had been done, and most of the new ones seemed completely dumb.

In 2007, Mario Party 8 was released on the Wii to fairly mixed reviews. Most players, like myself, had given up on the series and decided to hold out for the next one, since it was probably only a year away. But it seemed that Hudson Soft had decided to quit making Mario Party games, and it was probably for the best.

5 years later, Nintendo owned company Nd Cube released a brand new Mario Party game. It was difficult to tell if this was good news or bad news. On the one hand, the Mario Party series was overdone, even after such a long gap. On the other hand, it was being made by a different company that might bring some new ideas to the series. My only trepidation was if the new ideas were good ideas.

After many multiplayer sessions with Mario Party 9, I can put your fears to rest. This game does differ from the old formula in many ways, but it also stays true to the series in some important areas – and it works. I haven’t had this much fun with the series since the Nintendo 64 entries.

Mario Party 9 operates differently. Rather than four players wandering around a board to buy a star from Toad, all the players travel together in a single vehicle, taking turns at being behind the wheel. The boards aren’t circuits; they have a start and a finish, and they feel like the right length – not too short that the game is over too quickly, not too long that the game drags on. If you only have two or three human players, you don’t have to have an AI controlled character if you don’t want to.

You roll the dice and you move the cart, collecting mini-stars (or negative mini-stars) and you’ll land on various spaces. Some will give you a reward such as a custom dice block which you can use strategically, some spaces will initiate a free for all mini-game or a battle mini-game, some spaces will start an event – each map has different events to keep things fresh. Some spaces will cause the order of turns to shuffle, or give you another roll of the dice.

Mario Party 9 asset


Because all the players stay together, and the game moves at a much faster pace, there is more incentive to pay attention when it’s not your turn, as the actions of the captain can affect all the players. Some maps have some elements of suspense – in Boo’s haunted castle, a ghost will follow the path behind or in front of you, moving a fixed three spaces per turn. If it catches you when you’re the captain, or if you run into it, you’ll lose half your mini-stars. There are alternate paths through the castle so you can try and avoid the ghosts, and you’ll be hoping your rivals get hit – especially if they’ve got an impressive lead over you. In the mines, you’ll have to outrun the rising lava, which can be triggered to move even faster if you land on the wrong spaces. In the factory, a bob-omb will sit on the front of your cart and explode in a certain amount of dice rolls, so you’ll have to make use of your special dice blocks to find a way to avoid getting blasted. There are five maps available at the start, with an additional two that can be unlocked.

As there is no turn structure – the game goes for as many turns as it takes to get to the end – there is no set time for mini-games. They happen frequently enough, but they happen at random times so you don’t know when you’ll be expected to play. The mini-games make use of the Wii-mote only, so there is no need to have a multitude of nunchucks or classic controllers. This makes setting up a multiplayer game incredibly easy, not to mention cheap. The Wii-mote can be used in a variety of ways – some games are played like platformers, with the d-pad controlling movement and the 1 and 2 buttons for jumping and/or attacking. Other mini-games are played with motion controls, such as well-timed swings (one memorable mini-game has you riding a dolphin and you wave the remote to make it jump through rings) or pointing a cursor at the screen.

Mario Party 9 asset


There are around 80 mini-games and after having had the game for a while, I still haven’t played them all. Each one I have played has been creative, entertaining and easy to pick up. Each mini-game’s intro will tell you your objectives and how to hold the remote, so anyone can play – no matter what your skill or experience level is. When a mini-game is started, most of the time it will let the captain pick one of three available mini-games, removing the random selection in older games that would often deny you the chance to play the game you really liked. By giving control to the player, the game feels that much friendlier. If there’s a mini-game you don’t like, or one that you know your opponent is way too good at, you can choose another one.

A new style of mini-game introduced in Mario Party 9 are the Boss Battles. Each map has two bosses to fight, one at the mid-point and the other at the end. These mini-games feature a variety of classic Nintendo enemies, such as a Chain Chomp, Thwomp, King Boo or Bowser himself. The styles of these games differ wildly, but the goal is the same – perform attacks to inflict damage on the boss until it is dead. Even though all four players must work together, there is an element of competition involved. The player who deals the most damage gets the most reward, and there is a bonus for delivering the final blow.

Mario Party 9 asset


If you wish to play alone, there is a single player adventure that takes you through all the maps in order. On each map, one or two of your rivals will be working for Bowser, and if they win at the end, you’ll have to play the map again. This provides a unique challenge when you are alone against minions Shy Guy and Kamek (who are unlocked for play in the other modes once you complete this single player mode).

There are a few other modes of play if you and your friends are bored with partying. All mini-games are available in a free-play mode, and there are some challenge modes to try. A Boss Rush mode is available if you want a really intense game. There is also a museum where you can unlock various features with party coins that you earn as you play, such as the aforementioned Boss Rush, two new boards, and some new vehicles to be used on each of the maps.

Mario Party 9 is a great party game if you’ve got some spare Wii-motes and a few friends around. If you’ve been hesitant about trying this because you grew bored by the numerous uninspired entries in this series, then you’ll be glad to know that this title changes enough to make an old series fresh once more, but with enough of the familiar formula intact that’ll make you fondly recall what the series was like when it was new.

Rating: 8/10

jerec's avatar
Community review by jerec (March 30, 2012)

On very rare occasions, Jerec finds a game that inspires him to write stuff about. The rest of the time he just hangs around being sarcastic.

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zippdementia posted March 31, 2012:

I really was interested in this title. For some reason, it just looked better than the last three I played (7, 6, 5). Sadly, my Wii is not at my apartment and my sister, who is my irreplaceable Mario Party friend, is moving East. To clarify, can you grab people from online to play?
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jerec posted March 31, 2012:

No, there's no online mode unfortunately. But having played Brawl online, which lagged like crazy, there's no way I can see a connection lasting for about half an hour. Hopefully the Wii U has a better online set up so multiplayer Mario Party can become a reality.

I've played 1, 2, 3, 6, and tried 8 once. Only really liked the first 2, so it has been a long time for me since I've enjoyed a Mario Party game.
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zippdementia posted March 31, 2012:

1 and 2 were both great and I actually enjoyed 3 most as a single player game... it was incredibly challenging! That was the one that had two board games rolled into it, if I remember.

I can't recall four-six at all, except one of them used a microphone.
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nickyv917 posted April 01, 2012:

1 was good, 2 was awesome, 3 was great, 4 was pretty good, then nothing. Just got 9, and I'm liking it.

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