A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know Mario Party: Island Tour is a family-friendly party game loaded with dozens of brief mini-games. Some of these games involve combat, like shooting glowing balls from tanks at competitors, but it's all very mild and cartoonish. It's never implied that characters are seriously hurt. When played in groups -- 3-D download play is supported, so there's no need for each player to purchase his or her own copy of the game -- it creates a fun social experience a bit like playing a traditional board game. In addition to male characters, there are a pair of female characters (Princess Peach and Daisy), so girls can choose to play as their own gender.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
MARIO PARTY ISLAND TOUR is the third hand-held edition of Nintendo's popular party game series and the 12th overall since the franchise launched 15 years ago on Nintendo 64. Nintendo sticks to its proven formula one more time, offering up multiple game boards, each with their own themes and objectives and all populated with some 80 new mini-games. Some of these mini-games will be pretty familiar, such as those that involve pushing or punching friends off moving platforms in an effort to be the last one left standing, while others are entirely new and make good use of the 3DS's unique capabilities, such as drawing constellations among stars to match those shown on the top screen.
There are seven themed boards, most with the goal of simply reaching the finish line first. Kids also can choose to play specific mini-games they like or to embark on a 90-minute quest to win 30 mini-games in a row on the way to the top of Bowser's tower. StreetPass mini-games let players engage in simple asynchronous activities against people they pass on the street (no personal information is exchanged). Players also earn points as they progress that can be spent on dozens of memorabilia bubbles.
Is it any good?
There's not an awful lot of innovation in Mario Party Island Tour, but it can still be a lot of fun, especially in download play mode among a group of friends each with their own 3DS. Each board is rated based on how heavily luck factors into play, how much skill has to do with winning, and whether the board features more or fewer mini-games. Need something short and sweet for a group of younger players? Pick Banzai Bill's Mad Mountain, which is all about the luck of choosing whether to recklessly rush to the finish or play it safe and hide from giant bullets in caves. Want a real test of skill and strategy? Choose Kamek's Carpet Ride, which requires players to outfox their opponents by playing cards that determine how far they move each turn -- and whether they land on just the right spaces. It's a nice way to help groups of players select a game that suits their abilities and interests.
Mario Party Island Tour isn't boldly going where no game has gone before, but kids with a hankering for party games that feature lots of mini-games ought to have a good time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about playing games with friends. Do you enjoy competing against people rather than the computer? When you play with friends, do you talk about things other than the game or are you completely focused on what's happening on the screen?
Families also can discuss the enduring popularity of board games. Party video games like this one prove that, even in our digital age, the formula of moving a playing piece around a board holds strong appeal. How does Mario Party: Island Tour differ from more traditional board games?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
- Subjects: Hobbies: collecting
- Skills: Communication: friendship building
Collaboration: meeting challenges together
Thinking & Reasoning: solving puzzles, strategy
- Price: $39.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: November 22, 2013
- Genre: Party
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More
- ESRB rating: E for Mild Cartoon Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.