A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a party game in which cartoonish Nintendo characters engage in a diverse selection of competitive and cooperative minigames. While there is a little cartoon violence that is silly and amuzing, all of the games are completely free of bad language, sexuality, or negative behavioral messages. Up to four players with their own DS units can play together using a single game card, giving it terrific handheld gaming value in families with several children or as a game to play with friends.
What's it about?
Spanning five platforms and nearly a dozen games, Nintendo's Mario Party is one of the company's most prolific and enduring franchises, and MARIO PARTY DS, the first in the series to be developed for the dual-screened handheld, is perhaps the best of the bunch. Characters run around large, interactive board game-style playing areas, stopping after each round of turns to take part in minigames that either pit all four players against one another or split competitors into two teams. Mario Party DS features a single-player story mode (in which you face off against computer-controlled opponents), a party mode that allows groups of players to set their own rules for single games, and several complementary modes that let you practice individual minigames, play a few fun puzzle games that don't appear anywhere else, and review unlocked rewards including character figurines and boss trophies.
Is it any good?
Mario Party feels as though it belongs on the DS. The second screen gives players a bird's eye view of the game board at all times so that they can keep track of the locations of other characters and important board features, including pitfalls, shops, and, of course, the coveted stars needed to win the game. And nothing has been lost in translation from console to handheld. The game still has the same engaging 3-D view of the action on the bottom screen, not to mention just as many game boards, play modes, and minigames as any of other Mario Party titles.
Plus, the touch screen allows for some interesting new minigame activities. Favorites include drawing circles with the stylus to twist a music box crank in an attempt to play the classic Super Mario Bros. theme at the proper tempo; blowing into the mic to control the speed at which a bomb fuse burns; tracing the mugs of famous Nintendo characters; and swiping the stylus back and forth across the screen as quickly as possible to shear slices off a cucumber. Simply put, Mario Party hasn't felt so satisfying or fresh since the original debuted on the Nintendo64 nearly a decade ago.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the game's plethora of minigames and game modes, discussing which might be each player's favorite. Do you prefer playing by yourself in the story mode, or with friends in party competition? Do you find collecting virtual items like character figures and boss trophies to be a satisfying reward for playing? If you've played other versions of the game (for Nintendo64, GameCube, Game Boy Advance, or the Wii), how do you think it compares?
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