Mario Party: The Top 100 Review

Marty Party: The Top 100 is the latest entry in the long running Mario Party franchise. The series has spanned over six different consoles now and this game is supposed to be a means of celebration. Unfortunately, it isn't one I will personally be celebrating. Mario Party: The Top 100 is a pretty bare-bones experience, a departure from the Mario Party formula, and one that has little to offer for those who aren't interested in local multiplayer, let alone those able to find people still playing on this hardware now that the Switch has been released.

Marty Party: The Top 100 is a collection of the top 100 minigames across the franchise. Each minigame lasts between 30 seconds to a minute and are quite varied. In one, you might be dodging cannonballs for thirty seconds and in another you might be trying to jump onto the one platform that will not sink into the briny depth below. The variety between games is fun and a long running staple of the Mario Party genre.  However, other than the minigames, there is little else other than minor mode variations to string them all together.

Unfortunately, and I know this is very subjective, I'm not sure who chose the included minigames as the best 100 across more than 10 titles and 769 different minigames. I would consider most of these to be average, although there are some stand outs. But right off the top of my head I can think of many minigames that would be more worthy of inclusion. I suppose one man's recycling is another man's art project, but I am disappointed in those chosen. Your mileage may vary of course.

Since there is a lack of substance to this title, I'll go over each of the game play modes since there really isn't much outside of them.

100 Minigame Mode: In this mode you play any one specific mini game of your choice (you must have unlocked them or played them before in other modes before they appear). You play the minigame and then select a new one. It's a one-and-done type of mode. I suppose if you really need your minigame fix and only have a couple of minutes this might satiate.

Minigame Island: A single player mode where you play one mini game after another in a set and determined order. It's primary function is to unlock new minigames. This mode uses an overworld map similar to the New Super Mario Bros. series, but do not be fooled. This is just a straight line playing one minigame after another in a sequential order. I mean, it's fun, but that's all it is. It's also over very quickly.

Minigame Match: This is the closest it gets to a traditional Mario Party experience. You roll dice and move around a very small board (and I do mean small) to collect stars. This is my favorite mode since it is the closest to a regular Mario Party game, but it is still lacking in substance. You cannot interact with the board, you only play mini games when you land on specific spaces, and overall there is just a lack of fun factor. An interesting twist is that all the players on the board move at the same time, making the race to the star a bit more exciting, but there really is not much here. Because you don't play mini games after each round the mode is over in five to ten minutes.

Championship Battles: This is sort of a battle royale mode where you just keep playing minigames until one player has three victories. The games have to be chosen from specific "pack", such as a pack of action themed games, puzzle themed games, N64 games only, etc. and you can make your own pack with games you have unlocked. This is the tightest and most competitive mode in the game, but again, it is shallow and lacking.

Decathalon: This is a gauntlet style mode where you compete in a series of minigames for points. After you finish, the player with the highest score wins. It's very similar to Championship Battles, but it is played for overall points rather than just three victories. In other words, even if you lose the game you get some points so you do not have to be first in all the games to win. That's a nice feature, but the selection of games doesn't change so it grows stale extremely quickly.

Overall the graphics and controls are just fine. They will not be winning any awards, but they are clean and functional. For a title like this that is all you really need. Before each minigame begins you are given a chance to practice, which has been a staple since the later N64 titles. This is, of course, a godsend for multiplayer matches. The controls for each game are clearly presented to you and easy to use. I never ran into a single control problem. For a game like this that is quite important.

Mario Party: The Top 100 is a disappointment both in the selection of mini games and the depth and breadth offered in terms of gameplay options. For a full-priced game, The Top 100 feels very light with its content. I was able to finish the entire game, playing every mini-game, finishing single player mode, and checking out the other modes, in around four hours. Unfortunately, I just don’t see how Mario Party is supposed to be enjoyable playing solo on a handheld when there isn’t even a fully fleshed out board games to play on. If you can play this in local multiplayer it might be worth it. But a game should never be judged on its multiplayer alone. And while the joy of Mario Party is typically in playing the boards and games over and over, there’s really no incentive to do that here since the only available board is quite underwhelming, and playing the games in rapid succession is tiresome. Also, in the near future it is going to be harder and harder to find other players with a 3DS as most make the migration to the Switch. So any multiplayer to be had is going to be one of diminishing returns over the next few months, lets alone years.

Ultimately, Mario Party: The Top 100 is not an awful game. The multiplayer is fun if you can find people to play with, but even then it overstays its welcome rather quickly. The modes are shallow, the only Mario Party style board is tiny and non-interactive, and the minigame selection leaves something to be desired.