A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the fun here has little to do with plot. But the storyline briefly introduces a good vs. evil theme, and players are encouraged to help townspeople along the way. The game has multiplayer options that allow kids to compete, as well as trade Mini games and gadgets. Parents should note that the massive number of Mini games won't do much to strengthen short attention spans.
What's it about?
MARIO PARTY ADVANCE is the latest addition to one of the longest-running series in the entire Mario family, and marks the first time it's been available for the Game Boy Advance. In the main Party World mode, players select one of four familiar Mario characters. They strive to recover the games that nasty Bowser has scattered around Shroom City and bring them back to Party World. They must eventually face off against Bowser, who has the remaining few games.
Players move around a large game board playing Mini games, such as properly operating an elevator or catching bunnies. They earn mushrooms (which in turn earn Mini games), and gadgets, such as a magic lamp. Once players have earned enough Mini games and gadgets they can go to Play Land to play with the gadgets they've earned, to Party Land to play Mini games against other players (GBA Game Paks are required for some of these), or to Challenge Land to play casino-type or other Mini games.
Is it any good?
While this version's focus is on the single-player mission, players can join with friends and play against each other in a variety of ways (one duel allows up to 100 people to play at once on a single GBA). Players can also transfer Mini games and gadgets to others. On the downside, once players have completed all the tasks in Party World, playability is limited to the Mini games, which won't keep their attention for more than a month or two.
The strength of the Mario Party series isn't in its cleverness (like the Wario Ware games), but in its multiplayer competitions. Unfortunately, Mario Party Advance, especially when using multiplayer modes, is a lot more fun and immediate on the big screen; Mario Party 4, for example, makes for a great party game. Mario Party Advance is a decent miniature addition to the family, but not as fun as its big-screen counterparts.
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