Mario Party: The Top 100

Game review by
David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media
Mario Party: The Top 100 Game Poster Image
Large mini-game collection doesn't quite party together.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Can spur friendly competition, healthy socializing, strategic cooperation.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Features heroes, villains from Nintendo universe but doesn't have motivation positively, negatively outside of game. 

Ease of Play

With a few exceptions, each mini-game is very approachable.

Violence & Scariness

Handful of mini-games show characters punching, kicking, pushing each other off ledges, platforms. In one mini-game, players shoot "cartoony" cannonballs from tanks at moving targets/enemies, causing them to comically yelp, fly out of arena.

Language
Consumerism

Features characters from various Nintendo properties, which could get players interested in picking up those games.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mario Party: The Top 100 is a party video game, meaning it's a collection of mini-games designed to be intuitive and easy to control, and to foster competition between a number of players. Mario Party is laid out on a board game board, and as the title implies, it's also a compilation of 100 of the most popular mini-games from the 20-year-old series. It's designed to be family-friendly, so there's no objectionable content whatsoever. There's no violence except a handful of mini-games that show characters pushing each other off ledges and one that has players shooting at each other in tanks with "cartoony" cannonballs, causing characters to yelp and fly out of the arena.

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What's it about?

Because MARIO PARTY: THE TOP 100 is a party game, there isn't any kind of story being told here: The point of the game is to play a board game. As with its predecessors, you compete against friends to rack up a victory whatever way you can. While the main point is to collect star balloons that appear randomly on the board, you can also get balloons for meeting other criteria -- for example, being the player who moved the least over the board, or the most. Players also collect coins -- which can be used to buy items to turn the tides of victory -- by facing off against each other in a wide assortment of mini-games that last a few minutes at most.

Is it any good?

Strange as it might sound, this game's noble intentions of compiling 100 of the series' most popular mini-games falls short with a surprising lack of content and shelf life. For starters, Mario Party: The Top 100 is lacking for modes: There's one base board (meaning a deceptive lack of variety), a miniscule character roster, and a clunky way of creating "playlists" of mini-games. On that last point, you have to manually select mini-games a la carte -- which is a lot of work. It's odd to gripe about these shortcomings given the generous amount of mini-games on offer, but they just don't come together in a way that makes you want to play them at length. 

But with 100 games, you're sure to find a few favorites and a few you know you'll want to practice at and get better. It's commendable that the game is multiplayer via Download Play (meaning only one player needs to own a copy of the game), but there's an obvious jarring clash in bringing back some of the series' older offerings from other consoles. For example, mini-games from the Wii (bowling, another where you have to tilt the 3DS to steer a car) simply don't work on the handheld format. Nobody does fun like Nintendo, and there are definitely some gems in this collection (a standout is a reversal on Whac-A-Mole, where players compete to keep their heads above ground the longest before being bopped), but these moments are simply too short-lived and too few and far between to make the overall package worthwhile. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how video games have the ability to foster interaction and conversations. How do you think playing Mario Party (versus another series, for example) might help you get to know and make friends with other kids?

  • Why might playing shorter games be more appealing to some people than ones that require a bigger time investment? Which do you prefer? Why do you think this preference might change over the course of your life as you get older? 

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