Title  : Mario Party 3
Platforms  : Nintendo 64
Publisher  : Nintendo
ESRB Rating  : Everyone
Game Rating  : 9.0
Review by  : Ken Gagne

The Nintendo 64 is soon to breathe its last, as the next generation of gaming consoles comes of age. Two things for which it will be fondly remembered are multiplayer gaming and strong first-party support. The latest and possibly last game to incorporate these features is Mario Party 3, from Nintendo. 

In Mario Party, four players take turns moving around a tortuous and constantly-changing board. Each space on which to land has its own rewards and consequences. After each player has moved, an action-packed mini-game occurs in which everyone competes for coins. The goal is to earn coins to buy more stars than the other players. The contestants in this electronic board game are familiar Nintendo characters, such as Luigi and Donkey Kong. New to Mario Party 3 are the evil Waluigi and the tomboyish Princess Daisy. (Waluigi? An evil Mario named Wario, I can understand… but Waluigi? Wa-is that supposed to mean?) 

Mario Party 3's rules and features are nearly identical with Mario Party 2. The board is decorated with shops, banks, allies and enemies to encounter. Almost everything that appears from previous games in Mario Party 3 has been multiplied a few times over. There are more than two dozen items to acquire, with a player's inventory now standing at three. The opportunities to make wagers or enter special mini-games are all still here, only more frequently. 

What's new to Mario Party 3 are the 70 mini-games in which to compete. Nintendo has not simply tweaked previous games and called them "new", as they've often done. This time, almost all the contests are original to the Mario Party series. Many tap Nintendo's pool of hit titles, with contests reminiscent of Starfox, Mario Golf, and Tetris Attack. 

These mini-games pit players against each other in free-for-alls, random teams, or one-on-one. Between the constant fluctuations of allegiances and scores, and Mario Party's kid-friendly themes, aggressive competition is rare. Anyone can win, but it's the getting there that's fun. 

The graphics have not evolved much in the year since Nintendo last threw a Mario Party. Occasionally the flat theme prevalent in Paper Mario pops up, but otherwise Mario's typical 64-bit graphics and colorful palette decorate the board. 

The music is also standard: simple, bouncy, and repetitive, but not irritating. Characters screech and squeal as they get tossed around the various games and boards, though the voice acting is occasionally comically bad. 

Some people say the Nintendo 64 failed because it appealed too much to the younger market. I've found that if you get enough friends together, almost any game by Nintendo can be hours of fun. Mario Party 3 is such a game. It goes a bit overboard in some departments, but in many ways, it is the best of the Nintendo's board game series, no matter how old a kid you are. 


This article is copyright (c) 2001, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 14-May-01