Mario Party 2
  • Genre:
    • Party
  • Platform:
    • Nintendo 64
  • Developer:
    • Hudson
  • Publisher:
    • Nintendo
  • Released:
    • JP 12/17/1999
    • US 01/24/2000
    • UK 11/06/2000
Score: 80%

This review was published on 11/15/2015.

Mario Party 2 is a party video game developed by Hudson Soft and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64. Obviously, this is the second game in the prolific Mario Party series, which went on to have many more games on many more platforms. It was originally released in Japan on December 17, 1999, North America on January 24, 2000, Australia on October 12, 2000, and Europe on November 6, 2000. After the roaring success of the first game, Nintendo decided to again enlist Hudson, creators of Bomberman, to make another Mario Party game for the N64. This renewed partnership continued on for quite a while, as Hudson also made many of the future Mario Party games. For the most part, Mario Party 2 is exactly the same as the first game, just with a few additional features and minor improvements. Basically, this is the second verse, same as the first.

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What kind of story do we have this time? Well, don't you worry, because I'm about to tell you a tale that isn't the least bit stale. The game begins with Toad recapping the events of the previous Mario Party, which also strangely had a story. In that game, Mario and his rambunctious gang created a new world called Mario Land, and they held a competition to see who would be declared the Super Star of that fictitious land. According to the Mario Party canon, and yes, it has a canon, Wario won said competition. As a result of that, Wario now wishes to rub in his victory by changing the name of Mario Land to Wario Land. Wario's wish caused a heated debate to erupt among Mario and his friends. Princess Peach then suggested they rename the place to Peach Land, but that didn't help matters. During this raucous argument, Bowser launched an assault on Mario Land. Nobody seemed to care, though, as Mario and his pals continued to bicker. Toad then ends the silly discussion by suggesting that whoever beats Bowser can name the land whatever they want. Everyone agreed with this proposition and set out to bash Bowser. In other words, Mario and his buddies have huge egos.

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It's party time in the Mushroom Kingdom as Mario and his pals gather once again for another bodacious bash. Just like before, four players take turns smashing dice blocks with their heads to move across a giant digital board as if they were playing a real board game, except with the whimsical nature of Mario's fictional world. Paths are mostly linear, but sometimes split off into multiple directions, prompting the player with where to go. Landing on different spaces will cause various things to occur, like how blue spaces give the recipient coins, red spaces remove coins, question mark spaces trigger special events that differ depending on the board, and Bowser spaces result in nefarious shenanigans. Every board has its own particular characteristics that alter the rules slightly, so the different boards aren't just for looks. Aside from there being new boards with new gimmicks, nothing has really changed on this front.

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As before, the general objective of every board is to amass as many coins and stars as possible within a preset number of turns. You set the number of turns prior to playing, and once all the turns are over, the player with the highest amount of stars and coins wins. Stars take priority over coins, as coins are mostly used as a tiebreaker if two or more players have an equal amount of stars by the end. The general gist of the game is that players must reach Toad on the board and pay him some coins to buy a star. Whenever a player purchases a star from Toad, the little guy will then randomly relocate to another space on the board, forcing other players to travel elsewhere for their potential prize. Sometimes these rules will change slightly depending on the board, and there are some other ways to get stars, like enlisting Boo to steal them from your peers. Again, as far as stars and coins are concerned, everything's the same as it was in the previous game.

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Of course, mini-games are the main focus of Mario Party, and Mario Party 2 brings them back in full force. Once all four players have ended their turns, they will be required to play a random mini-game against each other. Mini-games are still broken up into multiple classifications, like four player games, two versus two, and one versus three. There are also some new, special mini-games, like one-on-one duels. The main point to mini-games is that doing well in them wins you coins, and as mentioned, coins are needed to buy stars. All the mini-games have different rules and controls, which are explained to players beforehand, and they consist of things like cutting logs as lumberjacks, jumping rope with a rope made of fire, and even playing music in an orchestra. Many of the mini-games from Mario Party 1 have been recycled here with nothing but cosmetic changes; a bit lazy, if you ask me. On the bright side, none of the mini-games require you to quickly rotate the control stick. No more blisters!

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The biggest, most advertised feature of Mario Party 2 is the costume gimmick, where characters will wear different costumes depending on which board they're on. Even non-playable characters like Bowser and Toad get in on the costume fun. Costumes are specifically tailored to each board's central theme, so characters dress like pirates in Pirate Land, don cowboy outfits in Western Land, and wear astronaut suits in Space Land. Additionally, each board ends with a short cutscene revealing the conclusion to a miniaturized plot that relates to the theme. For example, the Western Land board has Bowser adopt the role of a wanted criminal, and whoever wins the game will be the deputy to stop him from robbing a bank. The costumes are cute and the story sequences charming, but they don't alter the game play at all. All of these thematic elements do give the game more personality, though.

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Something new to this game is the item system. There are two main ways to obtain items: you can step on item spaces, or buy them if you pass by a shop. If someone steps on an item space, they'll play a special single player mini-game for a chance to win a free item. These mini-games aren't terribly good when compared to the regular ones, so they merely exist to dole out items. Each player can only carry one item at a time, which prevents players from stockpiling a huge cache of goods. Items consist of mushrooms that let players hit two or three dice blocks at once, skeleton keys that open locked doors on the board, chests that steal other player's items, warp blocks that make its user switch places with a random player on the map, a bell to call Boo, a magical lamp that summons a genie that takes you directly to Toad, and more. Strategic use of items can turn the tides of any game, making them a literal game changer. That added strategy slightly counteracts the game's overreliance on luck, so the items are a nice addition.

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The Mini-Game Island from the first Mario Party returns in Mario Party 2, but this time it's been rebranded as the Mini-Game Coaster. Unlike the Mini-Game Island, the Mini-Game Coaster isn't available right from the start, as you need to play all the mini-games at least once in order to unlock it. As for what it actually is, it's a single player mode where you ride a cart into a mine shaft and play mini-games along the way, with each space you pass over representing a single mini-game. You must complete each mini-game before being allowed to move onto the next one, giving this mode a level-to-level progression system not unlike a traditional Mario game. A new feature of the Mini-Game Coaster that the Mini-Game Island lacked is multiple difficulty modes; easy, normal, and hard. Not only do the mini-games get harder or easier between modes, but there are more mini-games available on the harder modes. If you do hard mode, then you'll go through all nine worlds. The thing is, being stuck inside a mine shaft for nine whole worlds is boring, so the Mini-Game Coaster isn't as fun as the Mini-Game Island. Also, having to replay the whole thing several times to unlock the harder modes is tedious.

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If you liked Mario Party and want more, then Mario Party 2 is ready for you. There aren't a whole lot of changes between this and the previous one, so Mario Party 2 mostly provides the same four player experience people know and love. A couple of improvements were made here and there, the most notable of which is the addition of items, which add a good bit of strategy to the game. However, most of the other changes have to do with things that don't really affect the game play, like the costumes. As such, there's no particular reason to play this game over the first one, other than personal preference. Mario Party 1 and 2 are both pretty good at what they do, so you can't go wrong with either one.

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