previews\ Oct 17, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Mario Party DS - NDS - Preview

E for All 2007 Preview

You knew it would happen soon enough. Mario Party had conquered the mini-game world long ago on the console side of gaming. It inspired others to follow suit, leading to new hits like Rayman Raving Rabbids. This fall the beloved Nintendo franchise will be playable anywhere you can take your Nintendo DS in Mario Party DS.

The game is 90% of what you’d expect with some slight differences and/or cool elements that are a treat for the fans and have the potential to intrigue new players. Mini-games are playable in a variety of modes, but the two primary options are the board game setup or free play where you can choose whichever mini-game you want. The E for All demo offered 32 mini-games, a number too high for anyone person to examine in a crowd of thousands. But we can tell you about several of them, including the candle blowing game, where the player must blow into the DS’s microphone to remove the flame in front of your character. The goal is to hop across the candles and be the first to cross the finish line. The game does the crossing automatically – all you have to do is blow into the mic.

Light blows yield light results – one candle goes out. A harsh blow knocks out two candles. There are benefits to both. If you’re only one candle away from winning, you don’t want to waste time with a harsh blow. But if you use light blows throughout, your character will move rather slowly. You can’t blow while the character is crossing the candles – that too is another thing to consider.

Mario Party DS will also feature a cool game called Goomba Wrangler. The goal? To wrangle Goombas, of course! You do so by drawing circles on the screen. They must be complete circles – no breaks or the Goomba won’t be captured. Also, bombs appear and will hinder your progress if wrangled.

In another stage, the goal was to run around a small 3D platform and capture as many of the falling coins as possible while avoiding the wrecking balls that roll across the screen. Cube Crushers is another 3D option, but this time your objective is to break through the cubes and pass through three areas before your opponents. This game is team-based, a two-on-two battle where both players must hit a switch before an area may be passed. Break the question mark blocks for stars (making your character invincible for a brief time), and avoid the spikes to prevent yourself from being slowed down. The spikes are hidden within the question mark blocks – so break ‘em with caution!

Camera Shy was one of the more surprising mini-games. This one gives you a first-person view, first-person controls, and – no surprises with this next one – a camera. Your job is to run through the corn field-style maze and snap a picture of your opponent before he or she snaps you. It’s technically the fastest mini-game in Mario Party DS, but only if you’re able to find your opponent quickly. The hunt is the longest part.

Rail Riders is like ski jumping without the skis. And without the snow. You stand on top of a leaf and ride down a long ramp. It appears similar to the race stages of Mario 64 but has fewer control options. All you do here is scratch the DS screen (draw forward) repeatedly to gain momentum. The player that gains the most momentum will jump the farthest at the end and will be deemed the winner.

Those are the only mini-games we were able to check out, but there is something else worth mentioning: the stage designs. They could be the series’ best yet. Whereas before the game solely stuck to redesigned worlds from other Nintendo games, Mario Party DS will feature a musical stage with drums, guitars, pianos, and other instruments. Most of the stage platforms are drums, and if you land on the right one, a Hammer Brother will slam a drumstick onto your platform, launching your character into the air. This sends the launching character to a new location on the map.

Shipping this November, Mario Party DS looks like it will be everything fans could ever want from handheld Mario Party game. Stay with us for more on the game leading up to its release.

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