Sign on Options
Theme:

Mario Party 9 Review

Though an enjoyable addition to the series, Mario Party 9 is much too familiar and predictable.

The Good

  • Fun multiplayer action  
  • Wide variety of minigames  
  • Cheerful, colorful visuals.

The Bad

  • Little lasting appeal  
  • Far too much emphasis on chance  
  • Solo mode is tedious and required for unlocks  
  • It's all too familiar.

If Mario Party 9 were an actual party, it'd be a high school reunion. You turn up, look around, see all your old friends, and think "Hey, you guys have changed!" But within five minutes, you realize that beneath the flashy clothes or new facial hair, they're much the same people. That is what playing Mario Party 9 feels like. There are changes, sure, and frequently, they're for the better. But the improvements are largely superficial. There's no getting around the fact this is the ninth console iteration of a bunch of minigames in a board-game wrapping, and after this many entries in the series, the formula feels tired.

The goal is to collect the ministars that can be picked up while moving around the board or won during minigames. Up to four players travel around the boards together on a vehicle. The player whose turn it is (the captain) controls the vehicle by way of dice rolls and can reap the rewards (or punishments) for being in charge. Each of the boards has a theme that comes complete with unique benefits (such as dolphins that lead you to bonus areas) and hazards (such as a hot potato bomb that drains the unlucky captain's stars).

Boards are littered with ministars that award either positive or negative points, depending on their color. Because the captain reaps all the rewards (or suffers the punishment) there is strategy involved in setting yourself up for a windfall. However, as is customary in the series, chance is the ultimate decider of who wins and loses. The luck factor is even more apparent when you land on a square with Bowser's picture emblazoned on it. These squares shuffle up the standings, potentially destroying any progress you've made. Random chance having such a huge impact on who wins is a serious detriment, and your tolerance for this unpredictability goes a long way toward determining how much fun Mario Party 9 is.

The minigames are where Mario Party 9 shines, and in the heat of competition you'll bump your opponents out the way to catch thrown hula hoops, chase each other down in a variety of vehicles, or leap across moving platforms. There are some more thoughtful, slower-paced challenges, too: memory games, jigsaw puzzles, and pattern-recognition tests. The majority of the minigames are a free-for-all, with every player for himself or herself, but sometimes the current captain has to face off against the other players working together as a team. These can be particularly rewarding, especially if you're the captain and manage to evade three friends all gunning for you.

For the most part, the minigames rely on traditional directional pad and button controls, with the remote held sideways, though there are some exceptions. Those minigames that feature gesture or pointer controls are usually easy to get the hang of, so there's little to prevent inexperienced players from joining the fold. The single problematic minigame is one where you have to turn the dial of a safe--here, fussy controls needlessly complicate things.

Such problems thankfully don't exist in boss confrontations. Frequently, they have you competing against each other as much as the boss character, such as bouncing each other out of the way as you try to stomp Wiggler or rigging a rotating platform so a rival is in the path of an angry whomp. Each board features two boss fights and, much like the majority of the minigames, they are genuinely good fun.

The minigames make Mario Party 9 entertaining for a few hours, and there's enough content to make it worth coming back for more. But be warned: because luck is such an important factor, it's highly preferable to play with friends. It's easier to overlook the problems when you have a real-life companion to moan, shout, or throw picked onions at when you lose half of your stars in a way you couldn't avoid. In contrast, playing against the AI is a tedious and tiresome affair. Unfortunately, if you want to access all the content, you don't have much choice.

Mario Party 9 contains a single-player story mode, in which the nefarious Bowser and the equally nefarious Bowser Jr. have stolen the world's ministars. This serves as an hour-long introduction and isn't very engaging. Ringing up a victory is easy because you only have to stop one AI character from winning (rather than winning yourself), and each game lasts too long. Unfortunately, to unlock the sixth board and two of the 12 characters, you have to complete this mode, which is a frustrating requirement.

Beyond the Party mode and the tedious Story mode, there are a host of unlockables that can be purchased with party points (earned simply by playing the game). These include a Donkey Kong-themed board, new vehicles to traverse the boards in, and constellations to marvel at through a telescope (read: a waste of points until you've unlocked everything meaningful). The minigames are also playable by themselves, should you fancy diving right in with friends, and there are four extended remix games, including a rather good Hexic HD-like shape-swapping puzzle game.

Overall, Mario Party 9 is a decent package with a lot of content, even if the Story mode is something you'll wish you could avoid. It's colorful, good looking, and fun with others, but after so many games, the appeal just isn't going to last for many people. There's no denying that what Mario Party 9 does, it largely does well; it's just that it's largely been doing it well for nine console games and two handheld games. Once you've spent a few hours with mates, seen all the different boards, and played all the minigames, there's very little incentive to return. Much like that high school reunion, it is fun for a night, but you won't have any hesitation about moving on.

26 Comments

  • Gohansephiroth

    Posted Mar 13, 2012 6:57 pm GMT

    @Superzone

    Agreed, just yesterday 3 of my buddies and I had a blast playing this game for a good number of hours. I havent laughed that hard in a long time, so i can say this one is easily better than mario party 8.

  • Redley911

    Posted Mar 13, 2012 6:03 pm GMT

    I played the game and it's far better than MP8. Yes the game is very familiar from the others but saying that there is nothing new and good from this game is just ridiculous. Iwould not give this game mor than 7.5 maybe but this game doesn't deserve a hard review like this one. An again from all the other games site it seems that once again Gamespot is the only site that doesn't give anything good to this game.

  • slayer1090

    Posted Mar 13, 2012 5:41 pm GMT

    @Starfox15

    I would like one as well, but then I thought about it a while back and realized it wouldn't work out. Because it one person lags, or loses connection, your whole game ends. It's a good thought, but for a game that requires everyone on the same level (speed wise) and committed, online for Mario Party would never work out.

  • Pickleking23

    Posted Mar 13, 2012 5:17 pm GMT

    They should remake the first 3 for the Wii U. Good memories with those games.

  • townsforever

    Posted Mar 13, 2012 4:22 pm GMT

    @ Superzone
    Well I was going to comment but you said it all already.

  • Ultra_Taco

    Posted Mar 13, 2012 3:56 pm GMT

    I would be cool to see a Mario Party game with every single minigame ever made for these games on one disc (plus new ones too). That would be a lot of fun

  • Superzone

    Posted Mar 13, 2012 3:39 pm GMT

    Most of "The Bad" criticisms don't make much sense to me:

    Little lasting appeal - It's a party/virtual board game, what were you expecting? You get some friends together, get some snacks and drinks, and have a good time. Mario Party isn't intended to be played for hours and hours every day like an RPG or something.

    Far too much emphasis on chance - You mean dice rolls are all luck? Gee, you don't say. Part of the fun of Mario Party is that everyone has a chance at winning and the tides can change quickly, just like with items in Mario Kart. It makes for a fun and frantic game.

    It's all too familiar - You mean like every single Call of Duty game that gets an 8.5 or a 9.0 on this site?

  • Raziel_0

    Posted Mar 13, 2012 3:33 pm GMT

    " Its all too familiar"....lol

  • FlamingFury

    Posted Mar 13, 2012 3:27 pm GMT

    If they got rid of those bowser squares, the game might be allright.

    The game actually swaps around each others points? That's one of the most retarted game decisions I've ever head of.

    And fanboys, stop raging. Mario Party isn't better than CoD, and the series has been in decline since the first one. I stopped caring after Mario Party 3, it was all way too luck based. The minigames require skill, they should of thought of a way to determine how far you move depending on how you do in minigames, not pure chance. And freaking Chance Time ruined the entire game, even back then.

    Mario Party is just a decent kids game, but the pure randomness means it's pretty insignificant as far as games go.

  • thetravman

    Posted Mar 13, 2012 3:19 pm GMT

    Sequels are usually familiar (even though lots has been changed in the formula in this game) and chance is what makes this a great party game. It's not supposed to be a hardcore competitive game. This is one of the few game series where I have fun playing with even the least experienced gamers.

  • calvinsora

    Posted Mar 13, 2012 3:16 pm GMT

    Familiarity is not set in stone when it comes to how it affects a game. One game can have very little in terms of core change but still work wonders. Others can not change the formula and suffer as a response. I'm not going to defend CoD, I'm not a fan of the series, but for crying out loud, stop continuously commenting about "why don't they review CoD like this?". It's not only a fantastically unoriginal comment, but it doesn't apply since Ashton did NOT review the CoD games. The Mario Party formula is not one that works with each subsequent installment, it's one that achieves its ambitions with a formative installment and then doesn't improve except in margins. I loved MP5, still do, though. That was always my favorite.

  • -Fromage-

    Posted Mar 13, 2012 2:55 pm GMT

    What else can be done really other than change the board and alter mini-games? That's what Mario Party is.

  • iPostMaReviews

    Posted Mar 13, 2012 2:47 pm GMT

    They've waited until the ninth to say ''HURR DURR IT'S ALL THE SAME''

    -_- says the guys who keep rating Call of Duty so highly... go f*ck yourself GS sellouts, Mario Party is 10 times more innovating than C*ck of Doody will ever be

  • juiceair

    Posted Mar 13, 2012 2:30 pm GMT

    "It's all too familiar"
    "and after this many entries in the series, the formula feels tired." Reading these statements in the review I have to wonder if the same ones will be used when reviewing the upcoming COD and Madden games?

  • Junior_AIN

    Posted Mar 13, 2012 2:30 pm GMT

    Mario Party 9? I wasn't even aware this game was being made, so weird. Good Mario Party are the first two games, after that none are worth playing.

  • starfox15

    Posted Mar 13, 2012 2:19 pm GMT

    Lacking an online mode was excusable with Mario Party 8. Not with 9. I was kind of excited about this offering and I was hoping it would do well, but I guess not. Back to Wii Party.

  • Esxi

    Posted Mar 13, 2012 1:56 pm GMT

    I had to have a good laugh when I read the first paragraph to this review after they gave Call of Duty MW3 a 9.0 and only had "Multiplayer sticks closely to familiar formula" to say about it. What a load of BS. Nintendo not paying you enough for good reviews???

  • pH347m3

    Posted Mar 13, 2012 1:41 pm GMT

    What were they thinking when they designed the box art?

  • snxx

    Posted Mar 13, 2012 1:33 pm GMT

    "If Mario Party 9 were an actual party, it'd be a high school reunion. You turn up, look around, see all your old friends, and think "Hey, you guys have changed!" But within five minutes, you realize that beneath the flashy clothes or new facial hair, they're much the same people. That is what playing Mario Party 9 feels like. There are changes, sure, and frequently, they're for the better. But the improvements are largely superficial". I wonder, how and/or why Gamespot don't start every PES, Fifa or Call of Duty review exactly like that?

  • jedinortd_basic

    Posted Mar 13, 2012 1:29 pm GMT

    I don't get why reviewers complain about the randomness. That's one of the things I've always loved about the series

Game Emblems

The Good

The Bad

GameSpot on YouTube

User Reviews

  1. This was well worth the 5 years we had to wait for it. This is a great game to play with up to three of your friends!!!!

  2. Mario Party 9 is a great party game to play with friends, even if there was a five year hiatus gap.

Mario Party 9

Mario Party 9 BoxshotEnlarge the boxshot
Not Following

Follow for the latest news, videos, & tips from experts & insiders

GameSpot Fuse

    Game Stats