Tech News on G4
Island Tour not quite an all-inclusive
Dec 18, 2013
By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada
Following an underwhelming minigame collection on the Wii U, the party - and we use that term loosely - continues on the 3DS with Mario Party: Island Tour.
The 3DS title is the fraternal twin to the recently-released Wii Party U, and while both minigame collections certainly have a lot in common, Island Tour actually offers a slightly better overall package.
Like any good Nintendo game, Island Party takes advantage of the hardware's strengths, and while many of the 80+ minigames on offer are done almost as fast as something from a Wario Ware title, they do tend to feel fresh thanks to all the different control inputs used.
Several minigames use the classic analog stick and face buttons, while many others use the stylus. The accelerometer and gyroscope are put through their paces to positive results in a few minigames, and you can even use the camera with AR cards.
Heck, even the system's microphone is used to hilarious effect in a minigame that requires you to do your best voice impression of different Nintendo characters.
It would have been a travesty had Nintendo not offered download play in Island Tour, but thankfully, it is available and allows up to three other 3DS owners to play the game, even if they don't have an Island Tour cartridge. Although the actual downloading takes a couple of minutes to complete, the process is simple, and once everyone is set up, there are no hiccups in terms of slowdown or people dropping.
What brings Island Party down - in both single player and multiplayer - is the bland presentation the minigames are wrapped within. Like any past Mario Party titles, Island Tour has several modes that have you traversing a life-sized game board; the more successful you are at minigames, the better chance you have of rolling bigger numbers with your dice, and the quicker you can make your way along the board toward the goal, earning you an overall win.
Unlike the many game boards in Wii Party U that overstay their welcome, though, Island Tour suffers from the opposite problem. The boards are far too small, and the focus on luck is further exacerbated in Island Tour - more so than other Mario Party games, and that's saying something.
The boards are given ranks based on criteria such as "minigames" and "luck," but even the board that ranks highest on strategy and lowest on luck ("Kamek's Carpet Ride") still focuses far too much on proverbial horseshoes and rabbits' feet and not enough on critical thinking and planning ahead.
Just as I was getting in a groove and acquiring several specific dice to make the perfect finish in my first playthrough in Kamek's Carpet Ride, one particular computer-controlled player rolled a ridiculously-large number that put it smack dab on the final place on the game board, which is the main criterion for winning. The whole thing was over before I knew it, and I was ready to move on to something else.
The single player modes aren't much livelier, but there is a lot on offer here, and once again, the focus is on cramming in as many minigames as possible. Bowser's Tower, for instance, has you climbing a massive tower as you make your way toward the fire-breathing King of the Koopas. Here, you choose minigames in which you have to place first in order to advance up higher floors. The game says Bowser's Tower can take up to 90 minutes to complete, but luckily, you can save at whatever floor you're on at any time.
There's also a Time Attack mode that tasks you with completing 10 random minigames in as short a time as possible, and a Free Play mode that lets you go to town, playing whatever minigames you'd like.
Completing minigames and running through entire boards in either single player or multiplayer nets you Mario Party Points, which you can then use to unlock music, sound effects, and other unlockables. Generally speaking though, it's nothing you haven't already seen or heard dozens of times before in other Mario games.
Mario Party: Island Tour packs a lot of stuff into its cartridge, and while there's definitely a lot of appealing minigames on tap here, the party modes are missing a certain je ne sais quoi. There was a certain zaniness to past Mario Party games that gave a feeling of excitement; much of what's offered in Island Tour moves quickly, but it still feels somewhat plodding.
You could do a lot worse in the 3DS minigame collection department, but that being said, Island Tour simply can't be considered an essential title in the long-running series.
Mario Party: Island Tour
About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.