By Jenni . March 25, 2012 . 2:15pm
Some of my best friends and I have a ritual. You know, a little thing to keep us together and enjoy the little things. Every Sunday is “game night.” Sometimes it’s board games. More often than not, we bring out the video games. There are even times when we have a little field trip and go to a flea market, stop by comic book or game stores or even just fly kites. The important thing is, every week we know we’re going to get together and a good time will be had by all.
From here on in, I’ll be changing the names to provide some anonymity for the people involved in this week’s adventures. Exact quotes are provided, which resulted in some exasperated sighs from certain individuals as I would stop play to get everything down. The cast of characters, as shown above from left to right, are Not-Caitlin, Not-Jessi, Not-Pat and myself.
This past Sunday was fairly typical for us. We headed down to People Play Games in Lakeview, stopping by Chicago Comics and The Exchange since we were in the neighborhood. Video games were acquired by all, as well as some comic books and Tokidoki x Marvel Captain America and Red Skull charms. Not-Jessi convinced Not-Caitlin to purchase a used copy of Tecmo’s Deception. Momentary fretting occurred on the drive back when Not-Patrick’s car started overheating. Panera food was enjoyed.
Then, we arrived back at Not-Jessi’s home. It was Mario Party 9 time.
We’re usually a pretty happy and affectionate bunch. While we certainly aren’t above openly mocking each other, it’s all in good fun and there are never hurt feelings. So while our Mario Party and Mario Kart match-ups can result in some sniping and general back-stabbery, we’re never openly mean. Which fits well with this iteration since Mario Party 9 has all four players sharing the same car as they go around the board. We picked our characters, with Not-Jessi as Birdo, Not-Caitlin as Wario, Not-Pat as Toad and myself as Daisy, and headed off to Blooper Beach. “Nobody likes Mario. He’s an overrated show-off.” Not-Caitlin decided.
That’s when we realized we’d all be in the same car. “We all gotta move together? What’s that crap?” Not-Jessi exclaimed. Not-Caitlin chimed in with, “That captain’s a bunch of bull!” As you can see, we are clearly set in our ways at the ages of 27-29. Meanwhile, poor Not-Pat as the newcomer to the series seemed flummoxed. “I keep thinking I need to do something when I see Yellow Toad, because I don’t realize he’s not me.” He pondered. Not-Jessi then informed him that she’d tell him when he needed to do something and just push the button.
Now, given all that, you had to expect that the lack of Stars and Coins to focus on Mini-Stars came as quite a shock to us all as well. “No coins? Madness!” Not-Caitlin exclaimed. “But what if I want to buy something?” Not-Jessi asked me. I explained to her that there is nothing to buy in this version – that dice blocks come from certain squares and there are no power ups. The idea didn’t seem to click. “But I want to buy something!” Not-Jessi protested. “You sound like an old grandma!” Not-Caitlin said bluntly, and began playing.
Despite her protesting, Not-Jessi started accepting her new surroundings rather quickly. Things started out bright for her as she took an early lead with 8 mini-stars, 5 acquired by catching a dolphin. It wouldn’t last. As we each finished our first turn, Not-Caitlin was perturbed by a new realization. We didn’t play a mini-game yet. When I told her they randomly come up in present boxes or on the occasional Bowser Jr., VS circle or Boss Battle, she was quite indignant. “Way to ruin it for everybody Nintendo!” She proclaimed.
Moments later, our first mini-game was triggered. I landed on a Bowser Jr. space and it was Mecha March time. Unfortunately, you get paired with the person in last place as a partner for this match and I was stuck with Not-Pat. The task was to catch up to Bowser Jr. by swinging remotes one after another, repeatedly to make our mech move its feet. As we practiced, trying to find a rhythm, Not-Jessi and Not-Caitlin bickered over whether or not Toad had the best voice ever. It seemed a lost cause and the official match proved it. Poor, mild mannered Not-Pat was assault by my cries of “Swing! Swing it Pat!” While Not-Caitlin and Not-Jessi cheered us on. It seemed close, but after a jump Not-Pat couldn’t seem to keep moving. “My arm is tired!” He cried as I told him I didn’t care and that he needed to keep swinging.
After a much more successful VS mini-game called Launch Break, we faced our first boss battle. It was against Dry Bones and was called Deck Dry Bones. An assortment of cards with colored shapes were in the center of the screen. Players had to memorize them. They’d turn over, then Dry Bones would land on a platform that matched one of the cards. People had to quickly pick the right ones to damage him. Dry Bones didn’t stand a chance, as we all raced to click cards. At this point, we all began discussing how easy Mario Party 9 really is. It was unanimously declared the Super Easy Baby Mode entry of the series as we moved on to the next part of the beach.
It was then that we discovered the best mini-game ever—Goomba Bowling. As Not-Pat put it, it’s like Wii Bowling, only with a line of constantly moving Goombas. I’ve got to say that when I told them there was a full version of Goomba Bowling on the disc as an extra mini-game, Not-Pat, Not-Jessi and Not-Caitlin’s will to continue the Blooper Beach adventure started to fade.
From there, we experienced some other major adventures. I once again got stuck with Not-Pat facing Bowser Jr. in Bumper Sparks. (“Am I supposed to be going near the sparks? Cause I’m going in the sparks.” Not-Pat lamented.). Not-Caitlin triggered a sunken treasure captain event which turned the tables and put Not-Pat in first, myself in second, Not-Caitlin in third and Not-Jessi in fourth. (“This game is stupid now!” Not-Jessi proclaimed in a huff.) Not-Caitlin visited a Lucky Toad House and picked a card to get items, while we all chanted the “No items!” curse. Not-Jessi and Not-Pat faced Bowser Jr. in another mini-game and failed (“You’re dopes! Dopes!” Not-Caitlin chuckled.) while I accumulated 40 mini stars and showed them what happens when they mess with royalty.
Finally, we were nearing the end. I was in first, Not-Caitlin in second, Not-Pat in third and Not-Jessi was in fourth. (What an upset!) Bowser had arrived with a whole bunch of presents, four Bowser squares. Not that it mattered. We avoided them all. However, we didn’t avoid Star Island. Not-Pat landed on a Lucky space, followed some dolphins and our crew ended up on the god-forsaken Star Island area for 10 minutes as we attempted to land the Lucky space so one of us would get the 10 mini-star prize and get back to the main track.
It was time to face King Boo in King Boo’s Puzzle Attack. It’s a basic match-3 game, only everyone’s trying to match three Mario items at once to damage King Boo. I decided it was time to be conniving. Whenever I saw lightning bolt symbols, I hoarded them away towards my corner of the board. Sure, Not-Jessi matched three of them once, but I matched more and won the game. Now at this point I feel I was just tactfully pointing it that this strategy obviously cinched the win for me, but Not-Jessi insists I was being a sore winner. Whatever.
After that stunning tactical display in King Boo’s Puzzle Attack, it was time for judging. I was dubbed the game’s Superstar and took first place. Surprisingly, first time Mario Party player Not-Pat pulled through to take second place. Not-Caitlin was securely in third and as for Not-Jessi, well, I think you know what happened.
As the game went on to show various graphs and figures of our progress, Not-Pat, Not-Caitlin and Not-Jessi began to argue their cases for deserving extra mini-stars for “Being most similar to Yellow Toad,” “Most capable of finding grotesque, gigantic, purple overalls” and “Most able to shoot eggs out of their mouth.” Silly peons—that’s what they get for messing with a princess. (Sore winner indeed!)