Hudsonsoft and Nintendo are together once again, this time delivering the fifth installment into the ever expanding and ever growing Mario Party series. From the Nintendo 64 to the Gamecube, Mario Party 5 is the sequel to Mario Party 4, which was the very first Mario Party title to appear on the Nintendo Gamecube, giving it the perfect chance to pick up the slack that a first timer may have missed.
Those familiar with the Mario Party series already know the deal: Play mini games, get coins and stars, and become a superstar in the Mario world. It's a pretty simple concept that has been the staple throughout the Mario Party series over the last 5 years, really revolutionizing the genre of party games with multiple people since its original inception. Players compete with one another to earn stars, and the one with the most wins.
At the heart of Mario Party is the mini games. To earn those stars, players must have coins to get them, and the way to get coins is through winning mini games. Without mini games, there is no Mario Party. Mario Party 5, like its predecessors, hits hard on this point, offering a completely diverse selection of mini games. There's a bunch of new mini games to play, most of which focus more on having fun than having skill.
Along with Mini Games, there's also some other new features as well. Of course, there's always a new set of boards to play, but that's just become something that everyone has expected. The big thing is a new way to play. There's the new capsule system, which automatically gives a player an item when he or she passes the point on the map. They're similar to items: for instance, one may get to roll a dice twice. Since they're placed all around the map, it adds a new dimension to the strategic part of the game.
New modes are also present in Mario Party 5. There's the classic Story Mode which has a bit of a twist from previous Mario Party titles, as well as the Super Duel Mode. Super Duel Mode sees players creating a battle vehicle in order to take down their opponents. Other than the Super Duel Mode, there's a bonus-like mode which has different types of mini games that aren't really found in normal play - It's nice to see something different like that.
The newer, updated gameplay and the new modes provide for more longevity throughout the game, but that's all it really does: adds longevity. The single player is nice, but the multiplayer is really where the fun is at. Some of the new modes are less than thrilling to say the least, but it seems like it was better for Nintendo to put in the new modes than leave them out, just to do something different from the rest of the Mario Party titles.
Those who are most involved in the gameplay, as in the characters, are new as well. Unfortunately, one of the past superstars is not there anymore, but a few new characters make their debut in Mario Party 5. Of course, which character that was chosen by a player doesn't impact anything in terms of how the outcome is affected, but it's nice to have a bit more selection than the standard 6 or 8 characters everyone has grown accustomed to.
Visually, it's the "standard" stuff for a Gamecube game, more specifically a Mario Party game. There is one key difference though: Mario Party 5 does not use pre-rendered backgrounds like the previous installments - there's now full 3d backgrounds. It's adds a bit more complexity to the visuals, which are spot on already with a nice contrast and vivid colors. The characters look good and clear, and there's rarely anything that has a bad look to it.
Audio wise, there's a lot of music that one could describe as being Mario Party like. The overworld music for each map isn't horribly exciting, but it's not that dull either. The music for the mini games isn't that bad either, just typical of the Mario Party series. The sound effects are right on cue, none are incredibly outstanding though.
Mario Party 5 is everything that was expected of it - nothing special, but nothing incredibly great either. It's just another Mario Party game in the series that doesn't have anything that stands out to separate it from the rest. The gameplay is typical and nice, same with the visuals and audio. It's a nice game, but nothing spectacular.
Overall Score: 7.0/10