And with that, I think it’s time we move on to the upper-half of this list, and at #5 we have…Mario Party 7. Now, when it comes to Mario Party 6 and Mario Party 7, it’s pretty much a toss-up for me. Mainly because I feel like the two games are very, very similar. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the day & night system of Mario Party 6, I’d probably be mistaking these two games A LOT. Heck, there are times when I get a Mario Party 5 minigame confused with these two games as well. However, these games had very short development cycles, and let’s be real, Hudsonsoft & Nintendo both knew that these games were going to sell because Mario was on the cover. With that being said though, despite having these short cycles, they are still pretty solid games in my opinion. But as far as what sets 7 apart from 5 & 6, let’s take a look.
As I’ve said before, Mario Party 6 made a lot of improvements to issues I had with Mario Party 5’s item system. And Mario Party 7 pretty much continues incorporating the same improvements. The only real new addition is the inclusion of character specific items, where when playing as a certain character, you have a chance to get an item that others will not be able to get. Most of these items are movement based with some secondary effect that will definitely benefit you in some way. Most of these items are pretty broken though, aside from maybe Wario and Waluigi’s item, which can be pretty crap if the luck gods are not in your favor. However, because they are very good and everyone has one, I wouldn’t say it improves or makes the game worse. I just feel kind of neutral about them.
As for the actual boards, this is probably where Mario Party 6 clenches victory over Mario Party 7 in the overall standings, because while I do like the idea for the boards in this game, due to very specific board events which eat up time and in general makes gameplay so much longer, some boards can absolutely drag on for really long periods of time. One of the main causes of this is Bowser Time, where every 5 turns, Bowser turns the spotlight on him and does a ridiculously long event that eats up precious minutes of your time. And even though I should be saving this for the minigames section of the analysis, this is also especially true of Bowser Spaces, which will more than likely take you to a Bowser Minigame, which are actually pretty fun games, but because of how long they take and due to the possibility of another character landing on one not long after, mixed in with ridiculously long board events, and Mic spaces, which take about a minute or two to wrap up as it is…some turns could end up taking you at least ten minutes to get through, and that’s such a huge pace breaker. Again, a lot of these events are actually fun, and I don’t mean to sound so negative about them, but they can just be time consuming sometimes, and that’s really my only issue with the board game aspect of Mario Party 7. The boards actually look really cool, even Pyramid Park which features the chain-chomp stealing mechanic I hated from 6. Plus, just the idea that each board is a representation of a real-world locale was kind of a neat idea. Again, I just wish the games didn’t take as long as they do in this particular game.
As far as minigames go, there’s not really a lot I have to say here, because overall, the list is pretty solid. There wasn’t anything I was particularly bothered by, but I’m not exactly praising the game for anything too spectacular either. It does have Camp Ukiki, which is probably the best duel minigame in the entire series (at least in my opinion) and it’s got some pretty unique ideas for minigames as well. And hey, that for a seventh installment is pretty impressive, you have to admit.
For side content, once again, this is going to be pretty brief. Don’t think it’s as good as Mario Party 5’s, but still pretty high up there. Again, these games had a lot of the same production values and are often confused for another one of the 3 games (5, 6 and 7). I did enjoy the somewhat recreation of Mini-Game Island in the form of King of the River, and the I did like the direction they went in with the Story Mode; giving you a somewhat unique objective based on each board’s individual mechanic. The one out of place thing in this game for me though was the 8-player mode. That’s right, this game did have an 8-player mode, but don’t get too excited if you were unaware of this existence. Even though 8-players are technically accounted for, it’s more like 2 players playing on the same controller as a team, where one player takes the buttons on the left side of the controller, and the other one takes the buttons on the right. There are some mini-game modes you can play, and you can also play on one of the 6 boards as a team as well, but I was not a fan of this mechanic. Sharing a controller in this fashion just felt very awkward and I did not see the appeal. Might be an interesting idea for a recording between me and the folks over at PuddlePlainsHD, but I dunno…this just felt way too gimmicky and unnecessary. I don’t think it’s something that will dock points away from this game compared to others, but it’s not doing the game any favors either. I just feel incredibly indifferent towards it.
So yeah, that pretty much does it for Mario Party 7. With all the similarities between the last two games on the list, can we expect to see Mario Party 6 next? Or did the game manage to score some other points over the other remaining 3 titles? Let’s find out…