For #4 we have Mario Party 6, pretty much as expected from my last two analyses. To be honest, I’m actually kind of surprised this one made it so high up because I am very back and forth on this one. When I first got Mario Party 6, I was very impressed with all the improvements it made over Mario Party 5, pretty much taking everything I disliked about the capsule system, refining it into the much simpler orb and character space system, while also introducing some other unique mechanics as well. Over the years though, I find that I really don’t go back to this game very much, and I really don’t understand why. Like I said, it’s probably one of the more refined games of the series and I can’t really find a lot of faults with it. At the end of the day, I think it’s just because while the game is solid, there are just 3 games I enjoy playing a little more. And after all, remember, this list is not a reflection of what the best Mario Party game is, it’s my personal list of how I feel about them.
Getting back to that item system, as I said before, Mario Party 6 fixed all the issues I had with the capsule system of Mario Party 5. While essentially keeping many of the same events, they programmed them in a way where when you used an orb on a space, that space would become a character space with your image on it. That way, if you landed on it, the space wouldn’t activate and you would get a nice 5 coins for landing on it. If someone else landed on it, the event would happen, they would get screwed over, and you would get benefit of what they had to lose. I like this because it gives kind of an aura of Monopoly, where if you are smart and know how to use orbs effectively, you can completely cover the board with your spaces and reap a lot of the benefits. Some may argue that it doesn’t mean much, because if you see a character space coming up, you can just choose to go a different direction, but that’s why I said “being smart” about using the orbs. Try putting them in the path of upcoming stars, or make it so no matter what way they go, they land on a space of yours. Honestly, I like that aspect of this game and it’s a reason why I praise it so much. It’s different from what we are used to in a Mario Party game, but not too different.
As far as the actual boards are concerned, with exception to Snowflake Lake and maybe Clockwork Castle (I’m always kind of mixed on that one), honestly I like them a lot. Faire Square is awesome, E. Gadd’s Garage is pretty cool, Towering Treetop is a nice beginner board and Castaway Bay is pretty much Mario’s Rainbow Castle in an island beach setting. This is when Mario Party really started trying new things, mostly in terms in how stars are distributed and obtained. This is when fears of Mario Party starting to drift away from the classic formula started developing, but unlike 9 and 10 which completely changed things, at least the core objective didn’t change here. Get as many stars as possible and get as many coins as possible; and I think that’s absolutely fine if they try something new as long as that doesn’t change too much. I should also mention that the game has a day & night system, where every 3 turns, the time of day will switch on the board and different things will happen based on what setting it currently is. Night usually has a bit higher risk/reward scenarios while daylight is generally safer. But at the end of the day, I don’t really feel like the system impacts the game too much, and I mean that in a good way. Honestly I’d say it’s most annoying in Clockwork Castle where it literally switches direction of which way you are moving. But even then, there are ways to counteract that if you try to play smart.
When it comes to minigames, thankfully Mario Party 6 eased up on the luck minigames that Mario Party 5 incorporated, but there are still some very ugly offenders. Yeah, I’m talking about you Pitifall, aka: Get a Rope – Version 2.0. However, there are still some really cool ideas here. Another feature I’m actually quite enamored with is the fact that the day/night system of the game also impacts certain minigames as well. Some changes are as simple as just changing the species of Mario enemy you are collecting or fighting against, but others can change the entire dynamic of the minigame. In a 1 vs. 3 minigame, during the day, a team of 3 players may be trying to eliminate the single player, while at night, the single player may be trying to eliminate the team of 3. In another minigame, you may be climbing to the the top of a stage during the day, but trying to reach the bottom of the stage during the night. I like this because it makes one minigame feel like two different minigames, and I think that’s getting slightly more bang for your buck.
As far as side content is concerned, I can’t really go any further without mentioning the Nintendo Gamecube Mic accessory; a microphone peripheral that came with Mario Party 6 and 7 and allowed you to play a few microphone minigames and side games. The mic is not at all required for the game, you can play Mario Party 6 and 7 without it for the most part, but you can’t play the Mic content without it. Most of the games put the player with the microphone in a position where they speak vocal commands into the mic that will try to inconvenience the other players. It’s an interesting concept for sure, and it works, but I wouldn’t say it’s anything ground-breaking either.
The game also has a lot of the same type of side content as Mario Party 5 and 7 as well. It’s got some good modes, and that’s really all I need to say about it. Instead of a Story Mode, it has Solo Mode, a mode where you play three different linear boards and try to rack up coins and other goodies for a high score. This was an interesting take on a Solo Mode this time around, and honestly, I don’t hate it at all, but it is a bit one-dimensional in terms of execution. You basically stall, win as many minigames as possible, grab a slow shroom, and end the game one space before the final square.
When it’s all said and done, I can’t really be too negative about Mario Party 6. I don’t like Snowflake Lake, and there are a few features that seem a bit unnecessary, but I can’t really say I’ve ever had a bad time with this game. Overall, it’s just a really solid game and that’s why it’s in the Top 4.