“Mario Party” and “Mario Party 2”: Retro Review

On November 2, 2022, “Mario Party” and “Mario Party 2” became the latest games to join the Nintendo 64 Online lineup for the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack. After taking the month of September off for a Nintendo Direct presentation, two of the N64’s most popular party games join the list of beloved retro titles on the service. 

First released in 1999 and 2000 respectively (a year after their individual releases in Japan), the games make up the first two installments in the long-running “Mario Party” spinoff series. The games were developed by Hudson Soft, a partnership that lasted for nearly a full decade before the developer was purchased by Konami.

Though the numerous sequels have varied significantly in quality, the first two games hold a special place among an entire generation of fans. The games see characters from the “Mario” franchise take part in a wide variety of mini-games and boards. The first title sees a Princess Peach-themed cake and the jungle home of Donkey Kong as featured game boards, and the second introduces settings ranging from haunted houses to spacecraft and even a fan-favorite Wild West area. Whoever has the most gold Power Stars at the end of each game wins.

While the titles may seem cutesy on the surface, don’t be fooled. The games still retain a surprising amount of challenge whether or not you’re playing with friends or against AI opponents. The audio and visual presentation has also held up remarkably well over time, with the N64 Online releases giving crisp sounds and quality colorful graphics. The mini-games also sport a wide range of control schemes that are simple enough to pick up and play, but tricky to fully master. Some mini-games even give instructions on how to rotate the analog stick on your controller to avoid getting hand blisters and cuts (a problem infamous in the original N64 releases).

The early installments also were a key inspiration for the installments on Switch returning to basics, with 2018’s “Super Mario Party” and 2021’s “Mario Party Superstars” drawing heavily from the gameplay and boards of the original titles. 

With 2001’s “Mario Party 3” set to round out the original trilogy on the service in 2023, now is the perfect time to roll the dice on the N64 Online releases of “Mario Party” and “Mario Party 2” on Nintendo Switch Online.

Publisher: Nintendo

Developer: Hudson Soft

Platform: Nintendo 64 Online for Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack (Originally Released on Nintendo 64)

ESRB Rating: E

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