During the Nintendo 64 era Nintendo’s Mario Party franchise was a crowning achievement of the system, a definitive multiplayer experience that “ruined” friendships but was fun while it happened. However as the years went on the Mario Party train simply just stopped, the fans who once laughed with joy over the silly minigames, and boardgame antics now frowned at the franchise. They made the claim that the franchise had grown stale or simply gone stupid with later inclusions introduced in Mario Party’s 9 and 10, but what if I said that the franchise is not as bad as you think.
Surely I should be burned at the stake for such insinuations but there is a clear reason for why Mario Party has failed to offer the same level of enjoyment as its early installments, and that reason is nostalgia. Everybody holds their memories quite highly above everything else, over the years we look back over the things we loved and are unable to see the same level of quality in future activities of a similar nature, which is exactly the problem with Mario Party.
Much of the franchises original fan base came from the Nintendo 64 era, they enjoyed the often painful original game that ruined their controllers, and then chose the second game as the pinnacle of their memory. In its defense Mario Party 2 was a pretty good game, it evolved upon the original and fixed its shortcomings so it was understandable that this game became a cult favorite and the one that fans would become nostalgic for, but this also is why the franchise has fallen on hard times in recent years.
As we have established Mario Party 2 was a great game but that lies as the key word, was a great game, if you were to go back and play it now you would see a game that no longer offers the same exact quality. Dated graphics, some tired almost unfair minigames, and some really stupid systems, this never detracts from the games quality or level of fun but it draw a question in regards to how we truly view the rest of the franchise, is peoples nostalgia that bad for the game that they fail to see where the rest of the franchise shines?
This is precisely the case, where our childhood stands we build a monument to the games we loved and in our eyes what comes after so rarely can surpass or even come close to that game we hold dear. So the point that I am trying to get to is that the franchise is not as bad as many of you think, and your own personal thoughts are not wrong either, whether you cherish Mario Party 2, 6, or even 10 you have a right to your personal thoughts but you need to not be so close minded.
All too often we criticize before we even play a game for the first time, just the mention of a name or change in style is enough to make people shudder and complain without any real reason. Look at the recent Paper Mario Color Splash ordeal, this game was panned upon release because it was not going to follow the trend of classic releases such as the original or Thousand Year Door, but if you actually played the game there was certainly a good time to be had in this quality installment.
The same argument can be addressed within the Mario Party franchise, the nostalgia that people have for the past blinded people to the potential and promise of the modern series. Before even giving a chance to Mario Party 9 or 10 people simply complained and never gave them a chance, or if they did they hated the game because it tried something different, and it was not the way they perceived the series.
While just about all the main entries in the Mario Party franchise have stuck to a strict formula with a simple evolution brought about by the enhanced capabilities of their systems, people still managed to draw problems with the series going on. Was it the simple nature of the games becoming a staple of repetition? This I would argue is true but this is also where people happen to not realize their own complaints, how can you continue to love Mario Party 2 or 3 but not like 6 or 7, they are basically the same game and each offers the same amount of value to their players, you just need to stop trying to dislike them.
The argument can be directed at the black sheep of the franchise, 8, 9, and 10 also, it is around this time where the developers started to change things, motion controls and vehicles. The problem is that these games are still the exact same ones that we played before, despite the motion controls Mario Party 8 was quite an enjoyable experience and arguably one of the most enjoyable games in the series history with its gimmick driven systems. Then Mario Party’s 9 and 10 directly changed the franchise with the use of vehicles which tethered players together, this is where people really started to change their perception, what they liked was replaced but yet despite these changes these are still quality games.
Our perception from the franchise’s history causes people to hate how it changes and further builds upon our unwillingness to try things anew. This is one of the major problems, people just don’t want to try things, and they hear a name or see a trailer and are immediately displeased. How often do you actually try something that you think will be bad and are shocked by just how great it is, Mario Party 10 is that kind of game, on the surface the vehicle gimmick is a concern but yet in action it offers an all new playstyle which in turn offers all new forms of strategic moments. Then there was the Bowser Party mode which acts as one of the most thrilling components of Mario Party in years, but people fail to see beyond the simple boundaries of their own mind and don’t want to try and prove that perhaps the life in Mario Party is not as drained as they have been led to think.
Perception is a powerful thing, whether through our own personal view, or through someone else’s who encourages your future perspective. But sometimes we need to go against this, people have begun to see the Mario Party franchise as a stain in gaming, with repeated sequels and similar formulaic twists, yet if you put aside the look of things you can be surprised especially if you choose to quiet your own nostalgia and see how future games expand upon something that we essentially love. Besides there is nothing better to do on a Saturday night then to gather friends or family and play a round of Mario Party whether it be old gems, or the modern games that are greater quality then many are actually willing to admit.