Perhaps it’s just me, but it seems like sports games are one of the least popular genres of games outside of people who only buy the latest version of Madden, NBA 2K, or whatever the other yearly sports game releases are. I assume a chunk of that reason is because of the yearly releases of these types of games and how little changes between them or that if you were going to play football or basketball, you could just do that in real life. Regardless, the only sports games that seem to get any love are the Mario ones, which is what this section will be about along with party games. Why are party games included? Well like the yearly sports games, for a while the Mario Party games followed the same pattern of releasing a game each year with very little changing between entries. It totally wasn’t because I didn’t want to end up with two more parts to this series that would be super short.
- Famicom Grand Prix: F-1 Race– 1987: Famicom Disk System (Japan only)
When this game came out, Nintendo held a contest called Famicom Grand Prix: F-12. Players who got the highest scores won a Super Mario Bros. Game & Watch in a Diskun shaped case (Diskun was Nintendo’s mascot for the Famicom Disk System). The game resembles Rare’s R.C. Pro-Am games on the NES and Game Boy. When racing, the car the player is controlling will consume fuel and get damaged if it is crashed or driven off road. To keep the car running smoothly, it needs to be taken to the pit-stop. Doing so will add time, so players need to be cautious when driving and strategize when the best time is to use the pit-stop to get the best time on a track. When players win the Grand Prix, they’re rewarded coins that are used to unlock new vehicles. In total, there are twelve vehicles, each with different stats.
Would this game be worth playing? Yes but it has never been released outside of Japan.
- Famicom Grand Prix II: 3D Hot Rally– 1988: Famicom Disk System (Japan only)
While the objective of 3D Hot Rally is similar to Famicom Grand Prix: F-1 Race, to get the best time and run into as few obstacles as possible, both games are quite different. While the first game had an overhead/isometric view for its races, 3D Hot Rally uses a third person view like Square Enix’s Rad Racer and Rad Racer II. The game has three cars that either Mario or Luigi can drive, each with different stats: the Kattobi (speed), the Yonque (average), or the Monster (off road). Vehicles have multiple gears that can be switched too, to control speed. Like with the cars, there are only three courses in the game. While that may sound disappointing, the tracks are huge and have multiple paths to reach the finish. Repair areas are still present in the game, so players can’t be too reckless with their driving. Scattered on certain sections of courses are explanation marks with an “H” on them. Collecting these fills the Hot Meter and when filled, the Hot Gear will be available, making the player’s car able to go much faster for fifteen or so seconds.
This was one of eight games that were made to utilize the Famicom 3D System, a pair of special glasses that when connected to the Famicom which in turn is hooked up to a CRT TV, will display a stereoscopic 3D image; the stereoscopy could be turned on and off with the press of the select button. Square Enix’s Rad Racer (Highway Star in Japan) was also one of the eight games to use the 3D System and when it was released outside of Japan, players could still play the game in 3D by pressing select on the NES controller, but rather than the game’s 3D being in stereoscopic, it’s in anaglyph. This was the first time Satoru Iwata and Shigeru Miyamoto worked together on a game.
Would this game be worth playing? Yes. Like with the previous game, this too has never been released outside of Japan. Unless you’re a collector, you may want to pass on the Famicom 3D System glasses unless you find a good deal on a pair. If you do, remember you need to use them on a CRT TV not an HD TV.
- NES Open Tournament Golf– 1991: NES
This was the fifth golf game Nintendo developed with Golf (1985, NES), Family Computer Gold: Japan Course (1987, FDS), Family Computer Golf: U.S Course (1987, FDS), and Golf (1989, GB) preceding it. NES Open Tournament Golf is an edited version of Mario Open Golf which was released in Japan about a month before this game. Mario Open Golf itself is sort of a remake of Family Computer Golf: Japan Course and Family Computer Golf: U.S Course while also having new content. While both NES Open Tournament Golf and Mario Open Golf are similar graphically and gameplay wise, quite a bit was changed before it was released to western audiences. Holes were either redesigned or moved farther down a course to make the game easier. Also Mario Open had more music pieces (one for each course) but a chunk of them were removed along with a large chunk of content when the game was brought over here. While the Famicom version had six courses (Japan, Australia, France, Hawaii, UK, and Extra), the North American/European versions only had three courses (US, Japan, and UK). While a sizable amount of content was removed from the western version, one new addition was Tournament mode (along with U.S course). This was Satoru Iwata’s first time developing a game from start to finish and Eiji Aonuma’s very first project in the video game industry. You can hear part of a music piece from the Famicom version in the NES Open Tournament Golf micro-game in Wario Ware: Twsited!
The gameplay is…well golf. Players try to get the lowest score after playing eighteen holes and the game has four different game modes:
- Stroke Play: Go up the ranks by playing well through a golf course.
- Match Play: Face off with an opponent through eighteen holes and whoever has the lowest score wins. Win against Luigi and four new opponents will show up; each with varying difficulties. This is also the game’s two player mode.
- Tournament: Basically either Stroke Play or Match Play. Depending on the player’s rank and score, prize money is earned.
- Club House: The options menu. Stats of players, prize money, save data management, name registration, and training are found here.
Would this game be worth playing? It really depends on if you enjoy golf games. If you do, then this is basically the best golf game on the NES, although I’d go with the Famicom version.
- Mobile Golf– 2001: Game Boy Color (Japan only)
This Mario golf game is very similar to Mario Golf released two years prior on the same system with the biggest difference being compatibility with the GB Mobile Adapter which allowed multiplayer games to be played through a mobile phone network. While Mario characters are in the game, they have to be unlocked (oddly one of the unlockable characters is Foreman Spike from the Wrecking Crew games); so at the start of the game, all the playable characters are human. Characters need to be leveled up to improve their golfing skills by playing the sport. People who have played the GBC version of Mario Tennis or Mario Golf should be familiar with this since it works the same way here: players have free control of their character, can talk to other characters, and explore the world the developers created between games of golf.
Like with many of the Mario sports games, Mobile Golf was developed by Camelot; a company who was responsible for a few of the Shining Force games and created the Golden Sun RPG series. I say “was” because while Camelot is still around today, they haven’t developed a Shining game since 1998 and the last Golden Sun game was made in 2010. All of their recent games have been tennis or golf games staring Mario and friends.
Would this game be worth playing? Probably not this version, but Mario Golf on the GBC, yes…assuming you enjoy golf games. If you like sports games that aren’t golf, Mario Tennis on the GBC is a great choice too.
- Mario Party-e– 2003: Game Boy Advance eReader (Japan and North America only)
Mario Party-e came with 64 cards, a play board, and an instruction booklet. While the game can be played without the e-Reader, players won’t be able get the full experience. On the play board players have five hand cards and draw a card from the deck at the beginning of their turn, once a hand card is used, it’s discarded. In-Play cards are placed on the play board and have either coins or super star items. The e-Reader peripheral is used to scan e-Challenge cards to play one of eleven mini-games, split into three categories: Free Challenge cards, Wonder Challenge cards, and Duel Challenge cards. As mentioned the e-Reader is not required (although what’s a Mario Party game without the min-games?). To win Mario Party-e, a player must be first to have all three Superstar items (shoes, clothes, and hat) and once all of those are obtained, they have to place the Superstar card to win.
Would this game be worth playing? Getting all the items could be a pain and possibly expensive, but it’s apparently easy to play. Otherwise, there are plenty of Mario Parties to be had on Nintendo’s other consoles.
- Mario Party Advance– 2005: Game Boy Advance
Unlike other Mario Party games, Advance is more of a single player game; the game lacks a four player mode. Duel mini-games are available along with other mini-games and Gaddgets that can be downloaded to another GBA for friends to play. Gaddgets are miniature toys with mini-games inside that can be obtained by completing quests, winning Bowser mini-games, and simply purchasing them; there are eighty total. Mario Party Advance included an extra physical board game that uses the GBA game to let players play against each other in Gaddgets. The game has eight different modes, 26 non-Gaddget mini-games, eighteen single player games, five Duel mini-games, and three Bowser mini-games.
Would it be worth playing? Unfortunately not. A common complaint about the game is that its mini-games lack originality and are in general, not very fun. If you want a portable Mario Party, go with Mario Party DS, Mario Party: Island Tour, or maybe Mario Party: Star Rush.
This part wasn’t very diverse was it? With a section about sports you’d think their’d be more variety, but unfortunately Nintendo and their second party companies have yet to make a stand alone hockey Mario game or Mario bowling game; racing, golf, and Mario Party were the only things in this part. Mario’s Sports Mix and Mario Sports Superstars for the Wii and 3DS respectively have multiple sports games in them including basketball, volleyball, and hockey which may interest people looking for a fun Nintendo multiplayer game that isn’t Mario Party and isn’t just tennis, golf, or soccer. The Mario vs Sonic at the Olympic Games…games also fit the bill if that’s what you’re looking for. Part 6 will be covering the most exciting and beloved genre of games: educational games.