It's been far too long since we've had a proper Mario Party game. Mixing a board game, and a huge collection of mini-games together for great effect, the series had stuck to a winning formula for years - choose your Mario character, descend on one of the Mario themed boards, and roll the dice to hop around it, as you collect coins, and try to get to the star, which you can buy if you have enough coins. End of round mini-games gave you a chance to boost your coin score (and have a bit of fun), while the often-random special events, which could see players switching stars, coins, or places, never failed to mix things up.
In recent years, though, Nintendo have inexplicably moved away from what made the past games so successful, with the not-quite-as-much-fun Wii Party, and the odd Mario Party 9, where everyone moved around the board together in a giant car, proving the old adage of if it ain't broken, don't fix it. With this in mind, we were pleasantly surprised to see that Mario Party 3DS, the latest (and newly announced) instalment seems to be something of a return to its roots. Sort of.
While it ditches the odd car gimmick, and is certainly full of Mario charm, Mario Party 3DS will also feature seven boards, each of which has their own rules. To make the game more suited to the portable format, some of the boards have rules that mean they'll only last a few minutes, with most seeming to be more of a race to the end, rather than having you try to collect the most stars within a set number of turns. One particular, shorter mode Nintendo demoed lets you choose whether to duck into a cave and hide, or move forward a few more spaces by sticking out in the open on each turn, with the catch being that at any time, a bullet bill could fire across the map, and hit anyone standing in the open.
With 81 new minigames on offer, there'll be plenty to do in between turns, too. From racing games, to tetris-style puzzles, slide puzzles, and even augmented reality games, that make use of your 3DS's AR cards, it seems there'll be a traditionally huge variety of easy to pick up and play games on offer. In fact, almost the only thing that hasn't been mentioned so far is whether the game will support download play, letting those who own a 3DS, but don't have their own copy of the game (as is the case in most families) join in. As the last DS outing had support for download play, we're hopeful this one will - but Nintendo were characteristically quiet about any options during the recent Nintendo Direct online broadcast.
Either way, with a release set for this winter (just in time to get on people's Christmas lists), we're expecting to hear more about this soon.