Nintendo certainly loves to milk the Mario franchise beyond insanity. Exactly two weeks after the release of the magnum opus that is Super Mario Odyssey, the Big N has just released yet another game featuring their Italian mascot, Mario Party: The Top 100, the SIXTH game featuring him released in 2017 alone.
The premise is actually interesting. This game is basically the “Greatest Hits” collection of the best Mario Party minigames, all in one cartridge. It features classics such as Mario Party 2‘s tank minigame, for instance. It’s a great concept in theory, but a sloppy result in practice.
The Top 100 (kinda sounds like a pop music chart when I say it like this, doesn’t it?) features a ton of older Mario Party minigames with (very slightly) revamped controls and remastered visuals. There are minigames from all previous console Mario Party titles, with absolutely no mentioning of any of the portable versions anywhere, be it in minigame form or even an honorable mention in the “history of Mario Party” section. The main mode is pretty straightforward: pick a game, play it, repeat. You can assemble a 5-game and a 10-game playlist if you wish.
Besides the main minigame mode, there are other modes in order to shake things up a little bit. There’s a small single-player mode in which you traverse through 4 small maps in order to unlock a few extra minigames and a small board mode that tries to emulate the feel of a normal Mario Party game but fails miserably.
The board mode is easily the worst mode in The Top 100. It tries to differentiate itself from previous iterations by adding a few tweaks, such as the fact everybody rolls their dice and moves all at the same time, but it fails by removing any sense of strategy that was present in older games. Gone are the items, gone is the planning, gone are the multiple paths, gone are the various types of minigame spots, gone is the variety of boards (there is just one board, which is much smaller than the smallest boards in the franchise). They even removed playing a minigame at the end of each round, making this mode even more mundane.
Bumper Balls is back, but only with the lava background
If this board mode was the only issue in this game, it wouldn’t have been too much of a problem. Sadly, there’s a lot more to talk about. First of all, the controls. Mario Party games have always been enjoyable experiences but people must remember how some of the franchise’s minigames were uncomfortable to play, due to insane button mashing or archaic motion controls. Both are included here, and are even more noticeable due to the fact you’re playing the game on a 3DS, which features buttons that are much smaller (and more uncomfortable) than the N64 or Gamecube’s controller’s buttons, as well as featuring motion controls that aren’t even better than the Wii’s, let alone better than the Switch’s. Going back to using the 3DS’s aged accelerometer after playing properly designed motion-based games on the Switch is a big chore. There are even some control issues when on board mode, as there is a noticeable lag when pressing the A button to roll a die.
Finally, there’s the unforgivable issue that Mario Party: The Top 100, despite including a big amount of minigames, severely lacks content. Let’s say the average duration of a minigame is 30 seconds. You can stroll through all of the minigames in less than an hour. The board mode? You can beat it in five minutes, as minigames aren’t even mandatory. The “campaign” mode? Give it an hour or two and you’ll be done with it. Playable characters? There are only 8, all of them unlocked from the start. The price for all of this? Forty bucks.
This game might have a lot of content in theory, as well as a passable soundtrack and decent visuals, but it falls short in fun factor, and most importantly, replayability. Not even the fact you only need one cartridge in order to play with up to four people made the experience more enjoyable.
The adorable version of Godzilla
I really don’t think Mario Party: The Top 100 was a necessary title, at least in the format it was released and for the pricetag it’s being sold for. Not only did it show how some of the franchise’s minigames aged as well as the voice acting in the original Resident Evil, but also how important the board game aspect of Mario Party is to the gameplay, and how archaic the motion controls on the 3DS are when compared to what the Switch can offer. It’s a title that manages to be short in content even when including 100 minigames, with very little replayability or lasting appeal.