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Top 5 Best Boards in Mario Party

/ Mar 23rd, 2015 No Comments

Mario Party redefined what video-game adaptations can be. Before any digital board-games were merely 3-D recreations, but Nintendo saw a possibility for the concept of mini-games. Why have just one big game when you can have several little ones? In the same way board-game manufacturers have created 6-in-1 boxes, Mario Party found a way to follow suit digitally.

While the mini-games have already been discussed for their brutality, now is the time to discuss the boards themselves for their ingenuity and memorability. The boards of the Mario Party series also found a way to mirror their physical counterpart by having unique parts of the boards that would interact with players. In the same way popular board-games like Mouse Trap make the experience more interactive, so too did Mario Party.

5. Castaway Bay (Mario Party 6)

Mario Party 6 tried a new dynamic, a day and night cycle. This new mechanic almost made each board two boards, and with this kept game-play constantly changing and players needing to change their strategies on a moment’s notice. Castaway Bay is mostly on this list to honor the dynamic day-and-night mechanic of Mario Party 6, but the map was not without its own charms as well.
 

Dawn of the 2nd day, 48 hours remain...

Dawn of the 2nd day, 48 hours remain…

Right off the bat, the tropical island feeling of the map itself earns big points as Mario games have always favored these types of locales. Bowser as a greedy pirate attempting to rob the good-hearted Mario gang just sounds right. This map also paid homage to a staple of the series, the one-way map. While many Mario Party maps have the star constantly changing places, thus keeping players circling every which way, Castaway Bay had a static star location that players rushed to. Of course happening spaces and reaching the star itself would turn it from DK and his star to Bowser and his thievery. Also that awful little monkey Ukiki made an appearance on this map, may he rot in hell.

4. Shy Guy’s Perplex Express (Mario Party 8)

The Perplex Express board of Mario Party 8 takes the one-way map formula and flips it right on its head. This board consists of players moving through train cars, only to have happening spaces that will rotate the order of the cars. One moment players are but spaces away from the star, only to be foiled and sent back multiple cars. This twist on the classic formula makes for one of the more frustrating maps in Mario Party history, and one of the more challenging as well.
 

And time stands still, for just a moment, a sweet glorious moment.

And time stands still, for just a moment, a sweet glorious moment.

The level of detail in this map also adds a lot of engagement as each train car has its own feel and décor. The experience of speeding along the rails on-board a high-speed train, all the while competing in a variety of great mini-games is nothing short of exhilarating. To top it all off, players lucky enough to reach the conductor and his star have to run back on the top of the train to return to the start. The lucky space is also quite a treat on this map as it lets player’s off at a way station where they are treated to a multitude of coins and a free star, all the while enjoying the slowed down pace of being on a stationary platform.

3. Western Land (Mario Party 2)

Desperado Bowser. Bowser’s strange cosplay from Mario Party 2 is simply hysterical. All of his odd outfits breathe a level of fetishism bordering on creepy. His cowboy outfit wins hands down, amongst his collection of costumes, if only for the sheer absurdity of Bowser wanting to rule a run-down western town after years of trying to take over the lush Mushroom Kingdom. The alternate idea that Mario actually got bowser to dress up for his party isn’t any better.
 

What the f&$# are we doing?

What the f&$# are we doing?

Odd costume aside, Western Land boasts one of the more interesting movement mechanics in which players were able to take a train around the map. This had the advantage of speedy movement, with the disadvantage of sometimes passing the objective players were hoping to get to. The train also had the ability to knock any players on its tracks back to start, which could be a daring tactic should any player be cunning enough to utilize it. The whole feel of the western town fit in well with the showdown mentality of Mario Party. The dueling 1 Vs. 1 mini-game for this map was also a particularly fun and tense one with a pistol showdown.

2. Mario’s Rainbow Castle (Mario Party 1)

The original one-way map ladies and gentlemen! In Mario’s Rainbow Castle players were greeted to either Toad with his standard 20 coin star, or Bowser and his 40 coin black star (read: middle finger). This awful dynamic, only made worse by happening spaces and a constant rotation upon either Toad or Bowser being reached, is simply maddening. The original Mario Party is hands down the most brutal of the series and this map exemplified the worst in tactics as players struggled to force each other into reaching Bowser instead of Toad.
 

This map is... FABULOOOUUSSSS!!!

This map is… FABULOOOUUSSSS!!!

What also made this map appealing, raw challenge aside, was its unique setting in one of the bonus star rooms from Super Mario 64. The whimsical locale served as a great counter to the board’s deeply insidious nature. Of course, even from the first iteration of the series, Boo was always sticking around in a side trail to help players looking for a little robbery. Boo’s path made the route longer, which could prove to the player’s advantage in who would be seeing Toad or Bowser.

1. Waluigi’s Island (Mario Party 3)

Waluigi number one. All bow before the one true god. Waluigi’s Island is number one because he is number one. A variety of traps and tricks, all built to rattle players, keep everyone on edge and delight Waluigi long into his reign as our one true lord and savior in Mario Party 3. This map will rile up any player unfortunate enough to be forced into it by a more experienced player. The beginning acts as a giant explosion waiting to happen, which will of course rob all players caught in the blast of their hard-earned coins. This coupled with a middle that will force players to stop a speeding direction changer is sure to delight only Waluigi.
 

So many ways to embrace the "WAH"

So many ways to embrace the “WAH”

If an explosive beginning and disorienting middle weren’t bad enough, a variety of bridges can be raised and lower, Boo has two paths (one of which is of course a trap) and a number of pipes that turn the island into an outright maze. Long after Ozymandias and his works are but dust in the sand, Waluigi’s Island will last forever, an enduring testament to his undaunted power. The only way to survive this map is to look deep into your heart and find the “wah” buried deep. Any players who fondly remember Bowser’s Magma Mountain from the original Mario Party will weep in sorrow at Waluigi’s nightmarish Island.
   

Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson

Associate Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Greg is a Nintendo fanboy who would cry if they ever went third party. He writes news, previews and reviews at Gaming Illustrated.
Greg Johnson

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