There’s a strange and bitter paradox in the world; whilst Super Smash Bros. helps you to build friendship Mario Party ruins it. After 50 turns of rolling dice, gaining and losing coins, buying stars, stealing coins and stars from other players, having your coins get flushed down the drain thanks to Bowser, having coins and stars randomly given to you thanks to Donkey Kong, having your hard earned coins and stars swapped with that bastard in last place thanks to Chance Time and having others pull into the lead at the last second as a result of bonus stars that can be given even for doing poorly (seriously, there’s a bonus star in some games for landing on the most red spaces) you’ll be throttling your so-called friends at the throats. To add variety to all of this anger and sorrow there are minigames, little interludes that give a break away from the board game and allow for some fun to occur. There’s been many excellent minigames over all the games (a list on that will be coming up) but there’s also been a lot of duffs, games that are boring, annoying, far too difficult, uninspired or a combination of the above. This list is here to count down the absolute worst of them, taking games from the core series and excluding the handheld games.
- DISHONOURABLE MENTION - Luck based minigames
Every single Mario Party games always has at least a couple of games that rely completely on chance, where you do nothing of skill and pray that the programming is feeling generous to you. Bowser’s Big Blast, Day at the Races, Merry-Go-Chomp, Stacked Deck, Get a Rope, Vicious Vending, Pitifall, Deck Hands, You’re the Bob-omb, Cut from the Team… the list goes on and on. I decided to exclude these from the list because their unfair nature of being entirely predicated on hoping to God that you picked the right button is indeed in the spirit of Mario Party – plus there’s so damn many that they would clog up the list and things would get repetitive. However, that doesn’t prevent these games from being utterly annoying because of how little you can do to influence the outcome and one player can get a tonne of coins just because they chose the right character/switch.
What’s more, why are so many of these games used as battle mini-games (those where a tonne of coins gathered from all the players are on the line)? There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing a good percentage of your coins that you needed to buy a star getting given away to somebody else because you happened to pick the one coloured switch that blew up Bowser’s head. Actually, wait, there is one thing worse – when they’re used in duel mini-games where your star could be on the line. You spent all that effort getting the star only to have it dissipate because your opponent pulled the correct rope. Games like these ultimately serve to frustrate players by not having the clairvoyance to pick the random option, but since it’s in the ethos of Mario Party to be frustrating they won’t go on the list proper.
On with the list itself…
- NUMBER 10 - Heat Stroke (5)
1 versus 3 minigames tend to be rather stacked in favour towards one side and one of the most blatant demonstrations of that is in this minigame from the otherwise solid Mario Party 5. In this game the three players stand on stacked platforms, which the one player knock away one by one with a mallet. The three have to stay on until all eight platforms are knocked away or the time runs out. Sounds fair, right? Not when the one player can pull of a fake swing with the mallet, attempting to catch you out before whacking you away. This leads to a point where the one player wins 99 percent of the time, which is only accentuated by falling fire to knock out any survivors. As such, this games is perhaps one of the most unbalanced of all the team minigames, since the one player can play either calmly or viciously and still be the victor.
- NUMBER 9 - Chump Rope (8)
That said this may be the ultimate example of unbalanced 1 vs 3 minigames. One player holds a jump rope and swings it around with the Wii remote for the other three to jump over. Whilst this game has a much lower time limit than Heat Stroke (15 seconds compared to 30) the three players will still only succeed once in a blue moon. Like in Heat Stroke the one player can be extremely cunning, swinging the rope slowly before speeding up and catching the three players unawares and knocking them out – they’re essentially guaranteed the victory in every single game. Add to the fact that the motion controls are not the greatest (more on that later) and you have a game that is so unfairly one sided.
- NUMBER 8 - Candlelight Flight (4)
It feels a real shame to put a game from the best Mario Party game on the list. Mario Party 4 has so many fantastic minigames (more on them next time) that this one does stick out like a sore thumb in how obnoxious it is. One player has a candle that must be extinguished by the team of three who all have little water guns to do the job. This one’s a tad more balanced than the previous two games but it’s still very annoying. The water guns are fairly weak, necessitating the players to be right up close if they want to achieve anything, and you stop in place when you squirt, leading to a good advantage for the one player. However, if you’re in a game with the AI things will be worsened as they’re absolutely Godlike. If they’re the one player they’ll be dodging you with ease. If you’re the one player the AI will be squirting you and leaving you in the dark in no time at all. As such you’ll have to be hopeful that you’re not with an AI when you’re playing this one, but it doesn’t stop it from being annoying.
One of the most potent game types of Mario Party, alongside the luck minigame, is the button mashing minigame. Little to explain, just wham whatever button you need to within a short time span and sit back and watch the effects of what you wrought, whether it be knocking down a Pokey in Pokey Pummel, building up Whomps to be knocked down in Domination or hitting up to six buttons at a time in the aptly named Button Mashers. This one is easily among the hardest and most annoying of a fairly annoying subsection of games. Here you mash both A and B in order to wind up your Fly Guys, with whoever’s Fly Guy getting further being the victor. The issue stems from the fact that you have to press both A and B at the same time, which can be incredibly difficult to do if you’re uncoordinated with your fingers. Even more annoyingly the AI is once again godly at this game – however fast you mash you’ll be straining whilst the AI rolls by records effortlessly. It’s a bit easier on the Wii’s Virtual Console as the Classic Controller is better at recognising button inputs but it’s still a pain to handle. Again, just hope you’re only playing with friends if this monster comes up. And woe betide you if you try to beat it on Minigame Coaster.
But Mecha Marathon isn’t the worst game in the otherwise brilliant Mario Party 2. That dubious honour goes to this utter snoozer of a minigame which becomes even more tedious if you’re with friends. If you can do Reception level counting then you’re going to find this game a piece of piss as you have to count the number of a certain object on the screen, whether it be Toads or Boos. Sometimes you’ll be faked out by similar looking objects or characters disappearing but it’s really not hard at all. If you can’t get it then you can simply peek at the score of your friends, which is displayed in plain sight. You can maybe try to trick your friends by changing your score at the last second but it’s still hard to do that in a counting game. Add on the fact that it takes too long and this is a clanger in an otherwise fantastic selection of minigames.
And Mecha Marathon isn’t even the worst of the “spam the button to win” games. Standing out as terrible in what is already one of the worst Mario Party games in terms of minigames is this monster, essentially a new version of the fairly fun Skateboard Scamper from the first two games. You’re mashing the ‘A’ button to swim and pressing the ‘B’ button to dive under bombs, making it to the end whilst avoiding being hit and getting eaten by a Cheep Cheep swimming behind you. However, things get obnoxious when you find out that if one person is mashing the ‘A’ button fast enough the other players will be pushed backwards, meaning that you can get screwed very easily. And once again the AI plays like an absolute saint in this game so you’ll be losing to them very quickly. Throw in the fact that diving is sometimes a little unresponsive and bombs can appear out of nowhere to mess you up and you get a game you’ll be furious at in no time.
Oh, motion controls. How we expected so much more of you. You came blazing onto the scene proclaiming your revolutionary factor with the Wii but soon the world discovered that you weren’t all you were cracked up to be (the less said about the Kinect the better). Whilst Wii Motion Plus did manage to help you a bit, you got saddled with being involved with weak games that used the controls as a gimmick and were often not the most responsive, leaving players wishing they could just use a standard controller instead.
This sign of weakness can be demonstrated early on in this obnoxious game from Mario Party 8, the first Mario Party released on the Wii. Your aim is to get up your Ukiki the top of a rope whilst switching sides on the rope to avoid falling coconuts, with the first person reaching the top winning. Sounds reasonable but the motion controls are greatly unresponsive – you have to move the Wii remote as soon as you see any semblance of a coconut or you’ll be crashing right into them since it takes at least half a second for the game to respond to your movements. And of course the AI must have taken a pilgrimage to the Promised Land or something because they aren’t affected in the slightest. This one will make you miss your GameCube controllers.
There have been a few very lazy minigames in Mario Party’s history (a few of the simple coin collecting minigames from Mario Party 1 spring to mind) but this might be the epitome. You simply press the button to hit the dice block above you and whatever number you hit you get that in coins. Rinse and repeat for 30 seconds. That’s it. No creativity, barely any skill involved and it doesn’t break away from the dice rolling of the board game itself. Coin minigames are usually great in order to sweeten your pot in order to pick up more stars (examples that spring to mind include Pair-a-Sailing from 4, Quicksand Cache from 2 and Money Belt from 6) but this one is so utterly devoid of creativity in all respects compared to those enjoyable ones. Be glad you’re getting coins though which is more than can be said for the next minigame…
This game has one of the most accurate titles in all of Mario Party, for the beat does indeed go on. And on. And on. And on and on. And on and on and on. And on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on until you fall asleep out of boredom or begin to question your sanity.
The game’s pretty simple. Shy Guy hits out a pattern on the drums and the players have to copy it, adding new notes to the end all the time. Sounds fine? The reality is that the game takes forever, having to be done at least twelve times and getting longer every single time. Worse, if you and another player manage to get to the end without getting the pattern wrong or slipping into a coma your reward… is for the game to be declared a draw and for you to receive no coins. You literally wasted a few minutes for nothing, making this the shaggy dog story of Mario Party minigames. It’s frankly much less of a chore if you agree to throw the game and give somebody the ten coins and move on.
The most infamous moment in Mario Party history came in the first game with a bunch of mini-games that required you to spin the control stick around. Tug of War, Paddle Battle, Cast Aways, Pedal Power – all of these required you to rotate the stick as quick as you could. This was difficult as all hell to do efficiently with just your thumb but there was a somewhat quicker way – putting the groove onto the palm of your hand and spin like mad. Still a pain in the arse but more manageable.
Unfortunately the Nintendo 64 perhaps had the worst control stick of any games console ever, being literally a large lump of hard solid plastic. And as a result of the hardness of the stick many players ended up getting blisters in the palm of their hands and even managed to damage the control sticks. The result – Nintendo were sued by many families of children who received injuries from the game and were forced to pay thousands of dollars in reparations and had to distribute a free glove for the players who were injured by the game. This shows how these are the worst minigames of the franchise – many may cause you severe anger and annoyance at your friends but only these cause you physical pain. And that’s not worth the five coins you might get from winning...
Do you agree with this list? Are there any games that you get supremely angry with that I left off the list? Comment down below and join back with me next Thursday where we’ll be counting down the top 20 best Mario Party minigames…