Mario Party: Have Fun With the N64’s First Party Game (or else!!)

The first Mario Party on the N64

You like parties then, do you?! DO YOU LIKE MARIO PARTIES?! Well, if that’s the case this 1998 title from Hudson Soft (working with Nintendo’s characters) is a bit of laugh.

The very first Mario Party helped launched one of Nintendo’s most outright fun (if subtly malicious) multiplayer games.

And it’s also notorious for creating a specific type of injury—one that’d rip the skin off your hand! Bwahahahah!

The Very First Mario Party and its Palm Destroying Antics

Okay, so Japanese developer Hudson Soft (株式会社ハドソン) was handed Nintendo’s rights to create the game. Hudson is most famous for the SNES Super Bomberman games, although is now a defunct developer.

But its efforts with Mario Party are noteworthy!

This was a real curiosity when it first came out. Kind of like a Super Mario Kart (1992) style experiment. The idea here is you’ve got Mario and his famous friends, you stick them on a boardgame, and you let them compete for victory!

You roll the dice. You compete in mini-games. You battle against your friends (or computer artificial intelligence) until the game ends. Simples!

It’s all about the mini-games and Hudson invented some humdingers. Probably the most popular remains Bumper Balls.

Others have a focus on matching distortions on Bowser’s face, such as in the time-based Face Life mini-game.

Or there’s something like Shy Guy Says, where that SOB lifts up different coloured flags (and you have to match them—or die horribly at sea).

With 50 mini-games in total, players weren’t spoiled for choice. Some include all four players at once, others 1 vs 3 others, others 2 vs 2.

There are multiple board game maps you roll dice to move around, too, with the idea being to earn coins, win stars, and be the superstar at the end of the game.

Mario’s Rainbow Castle remains our favourite board as it features this rather lovely music!

Everything is all in good fun, of course, but in Mario Kart style players are encouraged to casually screw each other.

As a multi-player experience it’s a whole heaping lot of fun.

Reviews at the time were positive, although the game’s slow pace was criticised. Rightly, too, as some entire games seemed to drag on for half a day.

Hudson and Nintendo addressed these issues in subsequent editions of the game. Along with another notorious issue…

Analog Injury: The Horrors of Rotating the N64 Analog Stick!

The first Mario Party became notorious for a series of analog stick rotating mini-games. They’re all included in the above video.

Basically, players (like us, as this did happen to us back in the day) would use their palm to rotate the analog stick in the middle of the N64 controller. That’s instead of using their thumb.

You’d do this at such a speed that, quite unexpectedly, you’d suddenly be left with either a blister, friction burn, or laceration.

In the US, there were actually 90 official complaints about that (but no lawsuits). Nintendo of America eventually agreed on settlements for this. It still amazes us the USA works like this, but the business had to:

  • Pay a state’s legal fees of $75,000.
  • Providing gloves to injured gamers (so they could continue to play the game minus this life-threatening injury).

The BBC reported on this across a 9th March 2000 news item Nintendo to hand out gaming gloves:

“Nintendo of America has agreed to provide protective gaming gloves to owners of a video game blamed for cuts, blisters and other hand injuries.

The company is committing $80 million for the gloves and has also agreed to provide $75,000 for the cost of the New York Attorney General’s investigation, which led to the settlement.

According to Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the Mario Party game for the Nintendo 64 console can cause hand injury because to win, players are encouraged to rapidly rotate a joystick with a grooved tip.

Consumers report having to use the palms of their hands to rotate the joystick and, Mr Spitzer says, this damages the skin. Injuries include blistering, burns, lacerations, punctures, and cuts.”

So, yes, Nintendo issued around 1.2 million gloves! Which would have cost upward of $80 million (£64 million).

Whilst costly for Nintendo, it would have saved money over multiple lawsuits and eventual damages if they’d lost the case. And for a massive international business like Nintendo, £64 million is hardly a disaster.

But N64 Magazine’s editor (Tim Weaver) criticised the complaints and said his team at the office had no problems with the title. He said, “It could only happen in America.” And, well, it did happen a bit here, too. Weaver is now a crime novelist (perhaps it was this tale that inspired his tales?!).

Oh yes, on a final note for this, Mario Party launched on the Nintendo Switch recently as part of its retro gaming catalogue.

Yes, those analog twisting stages are still there.

Just, this time, there’s a warning message at the bottom of the screen to NOT twist the analog stick around. Covers off liability, you see! Nice one.

Ey Up! It’s Mario Party Into Infinity

There are over 15 games in the Mario Party series now, with this particular franchise being one of Nintendo’s more casual, family-friendly romps.

Mario Party Superstars was the last one in 2021. Subsidiary NDcube actually handled the development on that one.

The Mario Party games seem to promote sneering from more elitist gamers, as if this series proves Nintendo is “for kids”. Whilst conveniently ignoring the developer’s many other franchises (for example, Samus in Metroid Dread).

Ultimately, the Mario Party games are a continued hit. That’s why they keep coming out! And they are, frankly, quite a lot of damn good fun.

As we remembered once we got back onto the very first Mario Party. So, don’t turn your nose up at it. This is almost up there with the likes of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in terms of an outright multiplayer laugh. Get your family or friends involved and enjoy these SOBs!

Dispense with some gibberish!

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