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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mario Party!!!

Summer is in full swing, and I am sure that for most of you, your plans for the next three months include a lot of outdoor activities.

And, why wouldn't they? With the temperatures ranging between 20-35 C on any given day between the months of July and September (well, unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere, where you're experiencing winter right now), it is the perfect time for outdoor activities.

How many of us have gone to the beach on a hot summer day and just lay on the beach watching the waves crashing along the shore? How many of us have grilled burgers, hot dogs, chicken, and steak on the barbecue because it is way too hot to cook anything indoors? How many of us have tried to beat the heat by walking to the local ice cream shop to eat a banana split or drink a frozen fruit slushie to cool off? I'm guessing that the answer is...well...all of you!

Yes, summer can be some of the best few months of the entire year, and because it is so short, it's important to make every minute of each summer count.

So, I'm sure that most of us can understand the frustration that we all have when the baby blue skies suddenly become black, and when we see flashes of lightning streaking across the sky followed by a torrential downpour. Nobody wants to have rain falling down at an outdoor wedding, a baseball game, or a camping trip.

And, I'm sure that the people of Calgary, Alberta and Toronto, Ontario certainly don't ever want to see another raindrop fall again. Both cities were hit hard by heavy rains which caused major flooding in both metropolitan areas, and in the case of Alberta, entire communities are still rebuilding. In fact, if you click HERE, you can find a website where if you want to, you can donate some money to help the people there who may have lost everything in the floods. No obligation, of course. Just posting the link here in case you want to help out.

Anyway, on a typical normal rainy day in which we get the standard average rainfall in a day, it can be a real bummer. I suppose that some people would go outside and play in the rain regardless of how much falls (and actually, I will be one to admit to running around in my backyard when it was raining, as I found it fun). But not all of us were willing to just get soaked outside just for the fun of it, especially if there were strong winds or the risk of a thunderstorm.

So we stayed inside and resigned ourselves to be bored for a few hours.

Of course there were always things that you could do inside. And I suppose that one of the most common ways to pass the time on a day with uncooperative weather was to play a board game like Monopoly, Clue, Twister, or Trivial Pursuit. For a while, these games could keep an entire family of four entertained. But the problem with board games was the fact that eventually people grew tired of them. I know that whenever I played board games, I would usually get incredibly bored and/or restless after the second or third time because each game went exactly the same way. There's only so many times that one person can pass go and collect two hundred bucks before wanting to throw hotels at your competitors. There are only so many times you can accuse Mrs. White of murdering someone with a lead pipe before you yourself wish someone would clobber you over the head with a wrench to put you out of your misery. And, don't even get me started on Trivial Pursuit. I have seen many games of Trivial Pursuit end in a brawl over a silly question about which Chicago Cubs baseball player scored the most home runs in 1984.

(And, no, I do not know the answer.)

So, how do you make board games fun again?

Well, provide that a thunderstorm didn't knock out your power, Nintendo came up with an ingenious way to take the boredom out of board games using some of their most popular and liked characters.

Hence the reason why we're going to have a party.


Now, Mario games have almost always been universally well-received. And, there doesn't seem to be a Mario game that doesn't seem to have at least one sequel. There were three Super Mario games for the Nintendo Entertainment System, another two games for the Super Nintendo, and several more for the Nintendo 64, GameCube, Wii, WiiU, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo 3DS.

(WOW...that is a lot of Nintendo consoles!)

Would you believe that since the Mario Party game was first released on the Nintendo 64, it would still be considered a huge success? Including the versions released for Nintendo's hand-held consoles, there have been a total of TWELVE different Mario Party games made with a thirteenth version set to be released for the Nintendo 3DS later this year!!!

That's a lot of partying!

Of course, some Mario Party games performed better than others. The original name, the second sequel, and the DS version all scored very well, while the version released for the Game Boy Advance tanked. But I suppose that's true with all video game franchises. Loved Final Fantasy VI, VII, IX, and X, but despised anything after XI.

(I still have not yet played Final Fantasy VIII.)

But this isn't the Final Fantasy blog. It's the Mario Party blog.

It seems hard to believe, but it's been fifteen years since the first game of the Mario Party franchise came out. On December 14, 1998, Nintendo released the game for the Nintendo 64 system in Japan. North American gamers had to wait until February 1999.

Now, I know what some of you may be saying. For those of you who have played at least two or more of the Mario Party series, you may think to yourselves that all of the games are the same. And, in some ways this is true, as all of the games feature worlds designed like a standard board game complete with dice. But the plot of each Mario Party game is slightly different.

In the original Mario Party game, the plot of the game is to determine who out of Mario, Luigi, Wario, Yoshi, Princess Peach, and Donkey Kong will be the superstar of Mushroom Kingdom by playing a series of large board games complete with several minigame options. In the second game, Princess Daisy and Waluigi were added as characters. And, in the later installments of Mario Party, Bowser would cause all sorts of havoc, and the games would include boss battles between the player and Bowser's minions.

The objective of each game board of Mario Party was to go around the board to collect as many stars as possible. The player with the most amount of stars at the end of a series of turns (depending on the game you play, each board can have a minimum of ten rounds and a maximum of thirty) will win the entire game.

And, how do players earn stars? Well, there are several ways.

The most common way to earn stars is to go around the board and pass a star checkpoint. If you pass the checkpoint at exactly the right time, you will earn one star...provided that you have enough coins to purchase one.

That's right. In a lot of the Mario Party games, you will have to collect coins in order to earn a star. Coins have been a huge part of the Mario franchise since the first Super Mario Brothers game was released in 1985 so it's almost expected that you will have to get your hands on a whole bunch of them in the Mario Party series.

Now comes the next question. How do you earn coins in Mario Party?

Well, I'm glad you asked. And, to answer this question, I am going to use examples from the game Mario Party DS, one of the games in the series that I have played quite a bit.

Most of the times, you can get coins simply by landing on the right space. In this case, landing on a blue space will earn you three coins. But be careful...landing on a red square will cause three coins to be taken away.

In the case of Mario Party DS, you can also earn coins through other spaces as well. If a friend of yours lands on a golden space, the friend can share coins with you. But be careful, because if those squares turn purple, then the friend turns to foe, and you will have to fight them for coins.

In addition, there are green question mark spaces which are kind of similar to the Chance cards that one can find in Monopoly. Depending on what green space you land on, you can either win a bundle of coins, or lose everything.

Now, if you happen to get through the first round and you still have all of your coins, you still shouldn't get comfortable. Because at the end of every round, you will have to play one of the many minigames that are included in each version of Mario Party. Some minigames are as easy as pie, and others will prompt you to toss a controller out of a window. But if you succeed at the minigame, you could earn as much as thirty bonus coins each time depending on what the minigame was. As the game continues, sometimes you might even have to play a minigame to keep your hard earned stars in your possession.

Here are just a sample of a few of the minigames that can be found in various Mario Party titles. There are usually anywhere from fifty to eighty minigames found on each game.

Here is a sampling of minigames from the original Mario Party from 1998.

From Mario Party 4 from 2002.

From Mario Party 7 from 2005.

From Mario Party DS from 2007.

And, finally from Mario Party 9 from 2012.

So, you see...each minigame differs between game to game. And, the best part about it is that nine times out of ten, you have absolutely no control over what minigame you get to play as it is all controlled by the computer. You could be in the lead, and all it will take is epic failure in one minigame for you to lose that lead. It's very easy to do.

Now, at the end of each game, the stars are tallied, and you automatically think that the person with the most stars wins the game. But did you know that you can also earn bonus starts by meeting a set of criteria while you played the game? If you landed on more green squares than anyone else, you got a star. If you won more minigames than anyone else, you got a star. And, in this game, sharing your coins could earn you a star if you did it more than anyone else.

And, that's not all. Some Mario Party games have tournament options where you can challenge opponents to a series of minigames in random order where you can win bragging rights.

Seriously, with Mario Party, you always have a party as you will literally never play the same exact game twice. Seriously, pick up at least one of these Mario Party games. You may just be the best party host ever with it!

It sure beats Checkers and nursing war wounds caused by a Trivial Pursuit breakdown.

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