15+ games in the series and somehow they’ve never produced something with anywhere near as much quality or enjoyment as the second game.
For the record, I have played all of the console Mario Party games between 1 and 8 multiple times. I never really had interest playing 9, I never had a Wii U to play 10, and Super Mario Party didn’t look fun enough to warrant me purchasing it. I’ve played a couple of the handheld games, but to be honest they don’t deserve to get much attention.
What’s so good about Mario Party 2?
Mario Party 2 clears the checklist on a Good Mario Party Rubric:
✓ Good gimmicky boards
✓ Easy to play minigames
✓ Very few differences in characters
✓ Consistent bonus stars
✓ Fun to play with others
I’ll go into detail on each of these points in the following paragraphs:
Good gimmicky boards
There are six different boards you can play on in MP2 and they’re all good. Not too big and not too small either. All of them feature different gimmicks as every Mario Party board does and it does them in a way that’s simple. Some might find gimmicks like the cannonballs in Pirate Land really dumb because they send you back to the start of the level. They can be annoying, yes, but they don’t put too many happening spaces to make that happen often. Sometimes you actually want the cannonball to hit you and/or your opponents as part of your strategy to get closer to a star or get someone else further away from a star. All of the other maps have similar gimmicks that can be of an annoyance, but they have a lot of pros with them as well. A good board has a gimmick that can be used to make interesting plays without overstaying its welcome; and MP2 is the only one that has that for every board.
I like playing a bunch of the other Mario Parties, but man there’s always at least 1 board in every game that sucks that I actively avoid. Is there anyone who likes the teleporter maze in Eternal Star in Mario Party 1? Does the thwomp railway make things interesting in Mario Party 3’s Creepy Cavern or does it make it a pain crossing the two different halves of the board? Koopa’s Seaside Soiree in Mario Party 4 has you constantly giving money to a koopa into forcing you to flipping a coin on the path you take from a ukiki banana peel; which is not fun nor interesting. I could keep going on, but it doesn’t take long to think of a crappy board in a lot of Mario Party games.
Easy to play minigames
Even though the majority of Mario Party 2’s minigames are taken from the first game, they’ve made some minor improvements to a few of them to make them more playable and interesting. For the most part, a lot of the minigames are on average 30 seconds long and take at least some skill to win. Almost every single one of these games are also very easy to learn and win the first time you play them, which is a huge positive. Every Mario Party after 2 has more creative and complex minigames, which are sometimes really cool. But sometimes they’re a pain to play until you do them a couple times or they’re always going to be annoying or too random. Good minigames are those that are beginner friendly because it’s easy for new friends you play with to learn quickly and experienced players have no big advantages over others.
I think the only two MP2 minigames that are actually hot garbage are Abandon Ship and Honeycomb Havoc. For the former, it’s basically luck who wins since mashing doesn’t really help at all, and for the latter the game goes on way too long with way too much waiting if you’re already out of the game.
Very few differences in characters
Almost everyone in this game is mechanically the same outside of DK and Wario who are a bit wider so they also have a bigger hitbox, which can make a difference in some minigames. Otherwise, everyone else is essentially the same. In later games when they introduce character specific items there are clear advantages to certain characters, which makes you want to pick someone who will help you win as opposed to picking a character you like. For example, picking Toad/Toadette in Mario Party 7 is one of the favorite options because they’re the only character who can get Triple ‘Shroom Orbs, which lets you roll two dice blocks for 3 turns in a row. That’s huge for making your way quickly across a board to collect multiple stars in a row. Meanwhile, Mario/Luigi in the same game has the Fireball Orb, which lets them take 10 coins from each person they hit with their fire from a single dice block worth of movement. Yeah, I don’t think you can argue this is balanced at all.
Consistent bonus stars
In Mario Party 2 the bonus stars you have are Minigame Star, Coin Star, and Happening Star. That’s it.
Other games introduce new options such as Shopping Stars, Red Stars, Orb Stars, and more that are randomly mixed in with the 3 bonus stars at the end. It’s really not fun or interesting having random bonus stars at the end. Just because a game is full of random elements, it does not mean you need to have everything randomized. It’s always good to have some elements remain consistent so you can have small goals to work toward as you play through a game.
Fun to play with others
Playing with CPUs can be fun sometimes, but the reason pretty much anyone plays a Mario Party game is to play with other people. I’ve played with friends, family members, and total strangers before and it’s always way more with other people. MP2 is easy to learn if you’ve never played before and it’s still very engaging and full of surprises depending on who you play with and what kind of knowledge and strategies they have.
I’ve played a bunch of GameCube Mario Parties with people who hadn’t played them before and they found it really hard to get into. I mentioned at the start of this blog I hadn’t touched the last 3 released Mario Party games. The group car mechanic was definitely a big turn off for 9, but I think I was losing interest in the series years before that game was released. I’ve watched livestreams of people play 9, 10, and Super Mario Party and I could tell those people were not enjoying it when they just kept mentioning how they wish they were playing a different game. I’m not going to play the games myself just to say I played everything to come to the conclusion I made about the Mario Party series. Sometimes watching other people play a game a few times is enough to see if it’s worth playing or not.
This post ended up being longer than I initially wanted, but that’s okay. I try to keep these straight to the point.
I’m hoping at least someone will stumble across this article and decide to dust off their Nintendo 64 to play Mario Party 2 either by themselves or with others.
Thanks for reading!
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