What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mario Party 9 is a classic party game suitable for the whole family. Players engage in quick and simple games that kids even as young as six years of age should be able to understand and sometimes win. The game has some mild violence in the form of player avatars hopping on opponents' heads or enemies briefly squishing characters flat, but it's quite cartoony and none of the characters are ever seriously hurt.
What's it about?
MARIO PARTY 9 is a bit different than previous entries in Nintendo's popular virtual board game franchise. For starters, it puts players together in a vehicle. Each takes the helm as captain during their turn, controlling the fate of all competitors. What's more, the board is no longer circular, but instead a long, linear path with several set events, like a cliff that players must jump together and haunted paintings that release car-chasing ghosts. Plus, players no longer collect both the stars once necessary to win the game and the coins used to purchase them. Instead, players now collect a new currency dubbed "mini-stars." The player with the most mini-stars at the end of the game wins.
Even the mini-games have a slightly different flavor. Boss battles have players working together even as they compete against each other. And there are fewer of the series' familiar last-man-standing-on-a-dangerous-platform games. These have been replaced with more original challenges, like tugging on vines to collect fruit and racing to find doors that lead to the bottom of a haunted mansion. The experience is still very Mario Party-ish in tone, but it's undeniably distinct from other Mario Party games.
Is it any good?
The upshot of all the changes in Mario Party 9 is that much of the chaos that marked previous Mario Party games is gone. There's no surprise switching of spots with other players just as they are about to collect a star, and less pilfering of game-winning stars already earned. Plus, the board's linearity means players can anticipate which spaces and events are coming up next and plan accordingly. For example, special dice of varying values can be used to make the vehicle hang back and avoid detrimental spaces or zoom ahead to get to beneficial spaces, such as a captain event, boss battle, or a cloud of mini-stars.
But even with its many modifications, Mario Party 9 is still very much a Mario Party game, all the way down to the way it cleverly levels the playing field for players of varying abilities. That's good for those comforted by familiarity, but it also means that folks still exhausted by previous entries (there have been more than 10 Mario Party games to date once you factor in portable editions) probably won’t find much of lasting interest here. It isn't essential in the way many games headlined by Nintendo's red-capped superstar tend to be, but it's still fine entertainment for families who want to play together.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about social gaming. Do you enjoy playing by yourself or with others? What is it about playing games in groups that you like or dislike?
Families can also discuss winning and losing. How important is it to you to win a game? Do you consider how others feel when you win? Have you ever purposely lost in order to make a friend or family member happy?