Mario Party 3
  • Genre:
    • Party
  • Platform:
    • Nintendo 64
  • Developer:
    • Hudson
  • Publisher:
    • Nintendo
  • Released:
    • JP 12/07/2000
    • US 05/06/2001
    • UK 11/16/2001
Score: 75%

This review was published on 11/18/2015.

Mario Party 3 is a party video game developed by Hudson Soft and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64. This is the third and final Mario Party game released for the N64, though it's far from the last game in the series. It was originally released in Japan on December 7, 2000, North America on May 6, 2001, Europe on November 16, 2001, and Australia on September 3, 2001. Nintendo and Hudson teamed up to make the previous games, as well. In case you haven't heard, Hudson is the creator of Bomberman, a series renowned for its multiplayer prowess back in the Super Nintendo days. Hudson's multiplayer expertise meshes quite well with the Mario Party series, which is all about the four player party experience. Fun fact: this is the first Mario Party in which Waluigi and Daisy are playable characters. In any case, the first two Mario Party games were great, but this one's not as good. Mario Party 3 is a totally unnecessary sequel, as it simply provides more of the same, except it's worse than before.

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The highly unnecessary story of Mario Party 3 revolves around a star. This star was born in the center of the vast universe, and it was quite bright. The star in question is known as the Millennium Star, because it only comes into existence every one thousand years. According to some legend somewhere, the owner of this mystical star is destined to become the Superstar of the whole freaking universe. However, because the star was merely a newborn, it soon fell out of the sky like a confused infant. During this time, Mario and his pals were relaxing near Princess Peach's castle. Suddenly, the star came crashing down, ruining the relaxation. Shortly thereafter, Mario and his cohorts began arguing over who gets to keep the Millennium Star. Breaking the fourth wall, Mario then pulls out a Mario Party board game from a toy box and proposes that he and his friends play it to determine who gets first dibs on the star. In a twist of fate, the Millennium Star comes to life and transports everyone into the toy box, declaring that they must pass his test to prove themselves worthy of possessing him. Basically, it's just an overly convoluted excuse to play Mario Party.

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The standard multiplayer mode in Mario Party 3 is called Battle Royal. In this mode, four players, either controlled by the AI or actual human beings, take turns smashing dice blocks to determine their movement radius on a gigantic virtual board filled with familiar Mario themed elements. Players are restricted to traversing a linear path unless there's a split, in which case, they'll be able to choose where to go. Boards are laden with various spaces that produce different sorts of effects when a player stops on one, like blue spaces awarding coins, red spaces revoking coins, question mark spaces setting off unique board events, Bowser spaces dooming all to misery, and so on. All boards also have unique gimmicks that alter the dynamic of the game. The goal is to collect as many stars as possible in a certain amount of turns; stars can be bought from a star space in exchange for coins. Everything is as it was in the previous two games, so there are no surprises here. They did remove the themed costumes from Mario Party 2, though, which is an unfortunate omission.

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As usual, mini-games are the meat and potatoes of Mario Party 3. When all players have finished their turns, they'll be roped into playing a random competitive mini-game together for a chance to win a few coins. The primary point to mini-games, besides fun, is usually to earn coins so you can buy stars and other cool stuff. There are several types of mini-games, such as four player games, two versus two, one versus three, and so forth. Some mini-games are also triggered by landing on certain spaces, like luck based gambling games. Each mini-game has unique rules and controls, and brief tutorial screens appear before they begin to explain their intricacies. Mini-games involve all kinds of crazy activities, like players competing to eat a giant pizza, a dogfight between fighter planes, and hosing down flames like firemen. Unfortunately, many of the mini-games in Mario Party 3 rely a little too heavily on luck, resulting in unsatisfying game play. Considering mini-games are supposed to be the one part of Mario Party that actually involves skill, this is a turn for the disappointing. Many of them also simply aren't good, coming off as uninspired. The well of inspiration must have been running dry by this point.

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Items are back from Mario Party 2, but this time, players can carry up to three instead of only one. I suppose that's a clever reference to the game's title, but it's hardly anything to get excited over. The items function pretty much exactly the same as they did before, except there are a couple of new ones added into the mix. Players get items either by passing over a shop space and buying some with their coins, or stopping on an item space and winning a special item acquisition mini-game. Examples of available items include mushrooms that allow players to hit two dice blocks at the same time, a bell to summon Boo so he can steal stuff from other players, a lamp with a genie that takes you straight to the star space, and more. Items were a good addition to Mario Party 2 because they added a degree of strategy to the game; upping the item carrying capacity to three slots only further enhances that strategic element, which is a good thing, as it makes the game slightly less reliant on luck.

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Action Time is a new feature introduced in Mario Party 3. Generally, all of the action in Mario Party happens inside the mini-games, but Mario Part 3's Action Time aims to change that by bringing some action to the boards themselves. When players stop moving on a question mark space, it will sometimes trigger an action sequence unique to the board it's on. These action sequences consist of things like jumping over giant snowballs, swimming away from giant vacuum-like fish, etc. All these sequences only last a few seconds and typically reward you with nothing more than maintaining your spot on the board; failure often sends you back to an earlier space. In other words, these are quick time events. Quick time events are a lazy substitute for real game play, so the existence of such sequences are a blemish to the Mario Party formula. While Action Time does add a little more interactivity to the board sections of the game, it's annoying for the players and lazy on the part of the developers.

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Duel Maps are another new thing introduced in Mario Party 3. These unique boards are restricted to two players and operate under different rules. Instead of trying to collect stars, the objective here is to exterminate the other player. To do this, each player is given a lackey that they use to attack their opponent with, like Koopa Troopas, Goombas, etc. Players begin with a lackey and can get more as the game progress, and each lackey has its own statistical attributes, like attack power and stamina. Additionally, lackeys must be paid a certain amount of coins every turn, and they depart if left unpaid. When a player passes another one on the board, his or her lackey will attack the opponent or the opponent's lackey, depending on the positioning. Once the opponent's health has been reduced to zero, the remaining player wins. Mini-games are played sparingly during this mode, as they only occur when someone lands on a mini-game space, and they're all one-on-one duels. On top of that, players claim any blank spaces they land on, and if the opponent lands on them, they'll pay the owner a coin fee. The convoluted rules make this mode a confusing mess, and the scarcity of mini-games doesn't help matters. It also takes forever for players to actually get close enough to attack each other, which further adds to the boredom.

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Story Mode is a single player game that will take you through the events of the game's superfluous plot. The objective of this mode is to collect seven Star Stamps, which are labeled after things like wit, kindness, strength, love, courage, beauty, and mischief. Star Stamps are obtained by winning a Battle Royal board and then beating a computer controlled opponent in a Duel Map. Really, Story Mode is just a mixture of Battle Royal and Duel Maps, minus the multiplayer, and the boards must be played in a specific order. It doesn't change anything about either of those modes, and merely serves to pad the game out with needless busywork. Further adding to the tediousness is that you're required to play Story Mode to unlock certain things, like extra boards. The single player modes in Mario Party 1 and 2 were way better, because they got rid of the middleman and exclusively focused on the mini-game mayhem. Still, playing Mario Party alone is no fun, so that makes Story Mode the least enjoyable part of Mario Party 3. If you're looking for a single player experience, then steer clear.

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So what's the skinny on this game? Well, I think for that we should look at what this game does different from the previous iterations of Mario Party. Action Time and Dual Maps are the two biggest additions this game brings to the Mario Party table, but both of them are rather underwhelming. Duel Maps should be ignored on the account of them being too awkward and monotonous to enjoy, and Action Time is just another name for quick time events, which are more of a con than a pro. The only good thing this game has over the previous two is the ability for players to carry three items apiece, but that's not enough of an improvement to counteract all the other negatives. If you want a good Mario Party on the N64, then you'd do well to consider playing one of the previous ones. Only play Mario Party 3 as a last resort.

Word Count: 1,701

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