Mario Party Advance
Reviewed by Minna Kim Mazza
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2005-08-01 GBA Party E (Everyone) Nintendo / Hudson Soft

I loved Mario Party back when I owned an N64, it was great to play with a couple friends as an electronic "board" game. This version on GBA is accommodating for the single player, but also has features for multi-player games like previous versions.

When you first start the game, you'll have to make your own Passport. This is useful if more than one person plays on the GBA, or when you want to play with others through the Game Link. Some of the questions were kind of annoying, but once you get through this part you don't ever have to see it again if you don't want to.

Now for the real game! The general gist of the single player game is that Bowser has taken over, and you need to find 50 "gaddgets" that he has scattered around different areas of "Shroom City." You choose your character (Mario, Luigi, Peach, or Yoshi), and your starting point on the map is different per character. Moving around the board is similar to other Mario Party games - you roll a die, travel to a space which could cause you to roll again, lose a turn, play a mini-game for extra turns. Every few turns you will get the chance to earn more turns by winning a random mini-game. You also might get to an area that has a quest, which is marked with a star, or other areas that don't have stars but might have something useful for a different quest. Completing a quest will get you a gaddget (or two). Quests are of several types: win a mini-game, solve a riddle, or run an errand. Several quests require certain characters to complete, so you will probably end up playing all four characters in the end.

The best part about this game is its replay ability. I found that after winning the game very quickly (less than a day's play time - much to my disappointment), I would be able to go back and play any of the mini-games, plus some new challenges. In the main menu, "Play Land" is where you can free play any mini-game, including ones involved with quests, and you can record high scores for each game. You can also play with the gaddgets you've won, some which seem completely useless, some which are kind of cute, and some which are horrendously frustrating. Gaddgets don't really have anything to do with the game itself - just think of them as little toys to tinker with when you're really bored.

If you have friends with GBAs you can play in "Party Land", where you can link up with others. Some of the games don't require that you have another copy of the game, which is kind of nice. Also you can play with just one GBA, with games where you take turns.

"Challenge Land" is the last mode you can play, and this makes the replay ability even better. Here you win coins (which have nothing to do with the "Shroom World" quests) and buy additional gaddgets. Most of these gaddgets are "posters" that allow you to change the backdrop of the main menu. In Challenge Land you can pay the Mini-Game Attack, where you win as many mini-games as possible and earn more coins for each mini-game you win in a row, but you walk away with nothing if you lose a mini-game. The Game Room (they couldn't think of another name?) has the mini-games involving gambling, where you bet coins to win, but you may also lose those coins you bet. Duel Dash is where you play the duel-type mini-games against another character, winning coins if you win a certain number of games in a row, again walking away with nothing if you lose a game. Bowser Land is an interesting area where Bowser challenges you to get to his lair in a particular amount of "time". You roll a die, travel along a path through fire and brimstone (this is all for show, no one gets hurt and you can't control any of your movement), and play the mini-games from the Bowser quests at each space you stop. Bowser will award you coins based on how many games you played to get to him.

The only criticism I have was that I felt the Shroom City quests were just way too easy in general, and the mini-games for the most part were not all that challenging. However, in the Play Land where you replay the mini-games, I noticed that the level of the mini-games is kicked up a notch, so it's a bit more challenging that time around (and this also applies to the Mini-Game Attack), so that makes up for it. I am still having fun with a few of the gambling games, and some of my favorite mini-games. This game is definitely kid friendly as well, so feel free to let the whole family play (if you can)! You can also preview a few of the mini-games on the official Web site.