Nintendo's role in our lives is to bring us closer together through magical gaming experiences that we return to time and time again. Mario Kart keeps us racing through the day, and the classic Mario platformers have us team up for epic adventures.
But, while bringing us all into the living room for some family-friendly fun, there's one franchise that ends more friendships than any other. I'm talking about Mario Party, of course! Stepping into a game of Mario Party with your closest friends is to risk cutting the ties that bind you all together. Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating, but there's nothing more frustrating than being in last place with Wario while Mario or Yoshi dance across the stage in victory.
Anyways, if you haven't sworn off this franchise yet, there's a lot of fun to be had. We celebrate the entire series, from its best outings to its less than stellar ones. Here is our Mario Party ranking (try not to fight too much in the comments section):
Don’t let that picturesque sunny island getaway fool you: as far as vacations go, the 3DS debut of Mario Party: Island Tour is about as fun as visiting a mineshaft or a dark cave full of spiders. Not only are the game boards themselves short and uninspired, but they also change the Mario Party foundations so much that almost everything is dependent on luck, and that’s often including the mini-games. Even Bowser’s Tower, the long-awaited return to the single-player variant from the original Mario Party titles, isn’t enough to dig Island Tour out of the luck-based hole it so quickly dug itself into.
Mario Party 8 on the Wii should have been a great entry to the series on all accounts. After all, it was the very first Mario Party game to debut on Nintendo’s shiny new Wii console, and the series had enjoyed great success for a good number of years beforehand. Unfortunately, Mario Party 8 just wasn’t all that much fun: which many fans attribute to the fact that many of the new mini-games were extremely luck-based or made a forced use of the Wii Remote’s motion controls. Blooper was also made a playable character for some reason in this entry, as well. So yeah, there’s that.
2005’s Mario Party 7 was perhaps the first time the fun-loving series really began to show its fatigue after all the years. Not only was it the FOURTH entry to appear on the Nintendo GameCube, but it also didn’t really make any noticeable improvements to the overall game formula or add that many memorable mini-games. Even the storyline itself felt like a bit of a stretch, as Mario and friends battled on the deck of a fancy cruise ship. The microphone add-on from Mario Party 6 also made a return here, although by that time the novelty had almost wore off, and it began to feel more like a gimmick rather than a fresh and inventive new way to add a new twist to the gameplay.
Released a whopping FIVE YEARS after its predecessor, 2012’s Mario Party 9 was the second and final game of the series to be released on Nintendo’s Wii, and thankfully the developers took that extended break to learn from their past mistakes. In almost every way, Mario Party 9 was an improvement on the disastrous Mario Party 8: it had fun mini-games, some interesting game modes, and still wasn’t afraid to take chances, like having every player move together on the game board inside a giant connected vehicle. The difference here is that these changes actually WORKED, and they leave us excited to see what the inevitable Mario Party 10 on Wii U will have in store.
As if the old saying “Mario Party ruins friendships” wasn’t already true enough, Mario Party 6 came along and introduced a brand new way to get in fights withto your friends over stealing each other’s stars: microphone-based mini-games. The series' final installment on the Nintendo GameCube arrived with a microphone accessory that players could plug right into the game system for some unique new mini-games (and lots and lots of yelling). While some people started to feel that Mario Party 6 had strayed too far away from its N64 origins, there were still a lot of fresh ideas and fun new mini-games to be had here.
Following Mario Party 4’s reignited success on the Nintendo GameCube, 2003’s Mario Party 5 didn’t do much to change up the formula, but what it did do was add more of the fun and family-friendly gameplay that MP fans all know and love. Mario Party 5 also saw the series begin to branch off beyond the traditional setups of 4-player, 1-vs-3, and 2-vs-2 mini-games, with the introduction of “Super Duel Mode,” as well as a heavy emphasis on Bowser and DK bonus games. But above all else, the game boards and mini-games in this entry were just plain FUN, and the Dream Depot mechanic allowed the developers to experiment with some truly whimsical level and art designs.
Mario Party 4 burst onto the gaming scene in 2002 as the series’ first foray into the world of Nintendo’s GameCube, and it brought with it more of that stylized gameplay that fans of the board game and mini-game mashup just couldn’t resist. The game still stands as one of the best Mario Party experiences for one very simple, yet entirely important reason: it contained some of the best mini-games the series had ever seen. While everything else in the game was considerably top notch as well, from the colorful and varied game boards to the simple yet fulfilling manner in which you could play them, the mini-games themselves were just way too fun to handle.
The very one that started it all, the very first Mario Party on the Nintendo 64 is one game that many gamers still hold near and dear to their hearts (I can still remember seeing the original commercial as a kid!). Marking a brave new terrain for Mario and friends that would span several years and gaming systems, Mario Party still stands as a great introduction to the beloved mix of strategic board games and action-based mini-games. And of course, how could we forget about comparing war wounds on the palms of our hands at school after a night of vigorously trying to complete that damn rafting mini-game!
In case you haven’t guessed it by now, the N64-era of Mario Party games will always be the best of the series in my eyes, and Mario Party 3 is certainly no exception. Not only did the game feature 70 brand new and fun-filled mini-games, but it also had a whopping 12 different game boards, not to mention exhilarating duel maps that really put a unique spin on the traditional board game element of the beloved series. It also featured one of the most memorable Mario Party storylines to date, in which Mario and friends’ battle against the mustachioed Millennium Star. Mua-ha-ha!
There seems to always be an ongoing debate among die-hard Mario Party fans as to which game is the best in the series: Mario Party 2 or Mario Party 3. Of course, such an argument could go on forever, as both are unbelievably amazing products. In the end though, we had to give the top prize to Mario Party 2 for one very fantastic reason: the Mini-Game Coaster, a single-player mode which let players battle their way through several worlds of mini-games with increasing difficulty. The Mini-Game Coaster was exactly as great as it sounds, and it probably would have topped this list on its own even without all the other board game components.
Would you have ranked these a bit differently? Tell us in the comments section!