torstai 4. elokuuta 2011

REVIEW - Mario Party 2 (1999)

GENRE(S): Party / Compilation
RELEASED: December 1999
AVAILABLE ON: N64, Wii Virtual Console
DEVELOPER(S): Hudson Soft
PUBLISHER(S): Nintendo

Mario Party was a commercial jackpot and it called for a quick sequel, which arrived just in time for the Christmas market of 1999. The developers fixed the most major mistakes they made with the first game, and added just enough exciting new features to the game to once again rake in the cash and moderate praise from critics. It's not that different from its predecessor, there's a disappointing amount of new minigames and it's even less of a fair game to a single player altogether than the first one, but there's no question about it: Mario Party 2 is fun.


Toad in the Box.
Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Donkey Kong and Peach discover a new world, which they baptize Mario Land. Wario interferes with their ceremony and demands the world to be named after him instead, since he believes he is the only true superstar out of the six. After this statement, each person begins to claim the world for their own. While they're arguing over the name, Bowser invades Mario Land. Toad, who never runs out of ideas, suggests that whoever is a superstar enough to defeat Bowser, will get the world named after them.

I don't really have anything deep to discuss about Mario Party 2, so I'll get right into the game. The graphics haven't been updated in the slightest. The game looks different due to the different surroundings, technically it's completely unchanged - in other words, it's one of the nicest- and smoothest-looking games on the Nintendo 64 just like its predecessor. The voice samples are exactly the same as before - in other words, horrible - but the music is slightly better. Yasunori Mitsuda is once again in the lead, but this time he's assisted by a group of three. I believe each and every minigame has a different theme song.

It's a tank battle to the death!
If you played Mario Party, I believe you're going to find Mario Party 2 instantly accessible. It is different, though. There's just one main mode, one mode you need to clash through to see everything there is to see - the mode previously known as Adventure. There are five different boards/maps for you to choose from, and once you've played at least one game on each map at any speed (Lite/Standard/Full), one final, ultra-hard map is unlocked. Unlocking new minigames is very slow. In the first game, you could constantly try out new minigames by making progress on the Mini-Game Island; here, the only way is to clash through the boards and hope for a new minigame each time a minigame is randomly selected. It can take forever for you to unlock each one of the 65 minigames. I played three games at standard speed, and ended up with a total of 26 unlocked minigames; they repeat themselves more than a little. Once unlocked, you can buy the minigames for free use in Mini-Game Land with all the coins and stars each player has collected, whether they're human opponents or CPU's. Every participant's success counts to the money at your disposal.

There's a lot more going on on the maps than in the first game - which means you're in for a potentially, and very likely, extremely unfair game. To prove my point, I was playing as Mario, and winning by four stars and a decent amount of coins. I lost at many minigames and Luigi had pretty good chances of getting the Mini-Game Star as a bonus reward in the end of the round (you can turn off the bonus stars this time to improve your chances). Well, Luigi didn't have one single star by the end of the game when there were only three turns left, and I was very sure he would be the ultimate loser. Well, he stole a star from me and he had a Magic Lamp, which allows the player to be transported straight to Toad. Check another star for him. Then, he got two bonus stars in the end of the game - Luigi was the winner. This game can, and probably will, turn on you at ANY point. Success is not to be taken for granted even if there are only a few turns left, and you're lightyears ahead of the opposition. It took four games for me to finally win, and it was out of pure luck.

The new item games are quite entertaining, not
to mention rewarding.
The minigames are not that luck-based anymore, the dynamics are a little better throughout the line and the importance of the analog stick has decreased notably due to the lawsuit Nintendo had on their hands because of the mayhem they put players through in the last game. Also, there are much less games which result in the loss of one or more players - there are no losers, there are only winners, which on my account is a good modification to the game. In addition to the standard minigames, each map has a different, unique item game, unique Bowser events, and a duel event, in which you can challenge an opponent for coins. Also, there's a battle, in which each player pays an entrance fee for a random last man standing-type of minigame. The winner collects most of the money in the pot and whoever comes second collects a small percentage. Sometimes, even whoever finished third wins a coin or two. There's also a bank on each map, and if just passing through, each player needs to pay up five coins. If a lucky person happens to stop at the bank, he/she wins all the coins deposited. In addition, there are much more Happening Spaces on the board than last time around, and Big Boo appears a bit more often. So yeah, this game was made to end friendships, but it causes even more sorrow for a single player - the A.I. was apparently designed to drive you insane. It pulls such stunts at such opportune moments, the most opportune moment being the very end of the game, that playing a Standard or Full game in single-player mode is mental murder.

The most important new feature in Mario Party 2 is without a doubt the inclusion of a sensical Item Shop, which is to be found on each map. From there, you can buy items that further improve your chances of winning, or simply screwing at least one of your opponents over and shoving a ten-foot pole up their ass. Perhaps the most essential item is the Golden Mushroom, which works the same way as the regular one, which was already present in the previous game, only this one allows you to hit the dice block three times in succession. You can carry only one item at a time, and as expected, players can steal items from each other by using a special item called the Plunder Chest, so they need to be used carefully, but urgently - the CPU just LOVES buying and using the Plunder Chest.

As I said before, the amount of new minigames is quite disappointing, and all of those that were carried over from the first game in a different form or merely in a different surrounding, were definitely not the best ones Mario Party had to offer. There are some cool and addictive new games, though, and I can't really name many minigames I would particularly hate. One thing that's deeply wrong with every single one of them, though, is that they never change. There's simply no variation to their difficulty level, or new stipulations to the gameplay. They're always the same - master them once, and you'll be pretty sure to win them every single time. The 11th or 12th game of Destruction Duet or Totem Pole Pound shows just how devastating repetition can be at its worst.

So, once again: you need to play through every map in the game at least once to have the best chance of unlocking everything in the game. After passing a certain point, you will unlock the Mini-Game Coaster within the Mini-Game Land, which is very similar to the Mini-Game Island in the first game, but more of an extra for you to conquer. In any case, Mario Party 2 was made to tide the franchise's followers over right up until the release of another sequel, so it has a lot in store for lovers of multiplayer mayhem, not much more or less for a single player than the first game, though.

Mario Party 2 is another good game in a unique franchise, and fit for everyone, from the cradle to the rocking chair. It's very accessible, diverse and features a basketful of highly entertaining minigames; I just wish unlocking those minigames would be little less time consuming and frankly, dull.

SOUND : 7.2


GameRankings: 75.94%

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