Mario Party Advance

A party in your pocket? Not really...


The Lowdown

Pros: The single player mode separates this game from other mini game titles.

Cons: Without multiplayer support this game just isn't that entertaining.

Purchase at Play-Asia

Purchase at Lik-Sang

Ever since it was introduced on the Nintendo 64 the Mario Party series has been an annual event on a Nintendo home console. It was only a matter of time until Nintendo and Hudson introduced it on a portable platform. Instead of utilizing the new DS, Nintendo's first take anywhere Mario Party game is for the GBA. The concept of Mario Party is simple you play as a mascot character and move around a game board to see who can collect the most stars. What really makes the Mario Party series fun is the blend of mini games. Some clever design and simple controls makes the mini games for everyone. The whole package makes Mario Party one of the hallmark titles in the small party game genre.

Now Mario Party Advance goes a totally different route. It's mostly a single player game. You can play with a friend, but you will need a extra Game Boy Advance lying around. The main story mode begins by selecting one of four characters: Mario, Luigi, Peach and Yoshi. Each character has a different board to play on. Once you pick a board you play it like any other board game, only without other players. You start by rolling a set of dice and then you move around the board at your leisure. After you move you'll roll again. In many ways rolling dice when you're they only player just seems pointless. Why not just move around freely? Because it's going to be your turn over and over again. The goal of the game is to move into specific areas to collect coins. These coins unlock inventions from Dr. Gadd, which are really in game features.

The actual mini games are simple like those old school game and watch handhelds. In one game you control a moving sled around a race track. The controls in this game are really sensitive, which means you have to slowly move around turns. Another really simple game has you dodge thwomps (those giant moving walls) from hitting you while moving bricks to build a path to the finish line. The arcade style mini games like these are sort of fun to play. Obviously, they would be a lot more fun with another player, even a computer to battle against. Some of the other mini games, like the ones to get stars just aren't fun. One of the first games on Yoshi's board has you watch four ghosts to see which one dances differently. To play the game you have to sit through pages of text, just to play a game that lasts for five seconds. Another ridiculous game has you do math problems for a mechanical koopa. Most of them are elementary, but in any case you either know how to solve the problems or not. If you're older than 13 they'll be way too easy and if you're younger than eight you'll be perplexed.

After playing the a mini game once you'll be able to select it anytime in the mini game mode. This is a good thing because actually getting to the mini games in one player mode takes a long time. You either have to roam around the board for several rolls or sit through way too much story to get to a game. This sets the game up for peaks of boredom and small hills of entertainment.

Mario Party Advance doesn't sport the best graphics the GBA has to offer. The game does have plenty of different sprites and cameos from other Mario games. King Koopa's son makes an appearance and if you're really into the Mario series you'll recognize plenty of faces. Mario Party Advance's style of a colorful game with simple graphics gives it an old school Mario feel to it. The in game sound isn't the best either. There are a bunch of old Mario themes, some remixed in the game. Fans of the series will love this, other gamers may wish for new songs. Otherwise the new music is really repetitive and doesn't add much to the game.

For the few players that do really get into the game they'll find a lot content that progressively unlocking content. The more you play the more mini games you'll discover and with over fifty mini games you have a fair number to play with. Another cool feature is unlocking Dr. Gadd's inventions. These things give the game some extra value, mainly when playing with friends. As an entire package Mario Party Advance doesn't work. It's not a party game and more like Mario: the Board game than an actual party title.

Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 5

Some of the games are simple enough to figure out without reading Japanese, but plenty of games do require literacy. Also, there is a lot and I mean a lot of text to go through to actually play the games.

US Bound?

Nintendo is bringing Mario Party Advance state side in March.

Overall

A single player Mario Party isn't really a party and there aren't enough mini games to even put this title in competition with games like Wario Ware Twisted.