Welcome to the next post in my year-long series “Play or Pass” that takes on the proverbial “must before death” theme with video games. Every other week I will be covering one or two games from “32 Video Games You Have To Play Before You Die,” a list compiled by BuzzFeed based on a reader poll. I will not be critiquing the list itself, but rather I’ll be discussing each game or games in whatever manner feels fitting and will attempt to answer a couple simple questions: Have I played [insert game name here]? If yes, do I consider it a “must” and why? If no, do I want to play the game before I die? I’ll be going through the games in the order in which they appear on the BuzzFeed list. Good? Good. Let’s get on with the games!
Week twenty-two: (28) Mario Party 2
If you’ve followed me for awhile, you may have noticed that I tend to be a little down on multiplayer. That’s just me. And only me. At this stage in life, I’m simply in a place where I prefer single-player games. But, as I’ve likely alluded to before, my gaming life wasn’t always like that. In fact, I grew up playing games with others — siblings, friends, second cousins first removed — and I enjoyed gaming that way. When a game called for two or more people, I found two or more people to play with. When the game didn’t, but we still had a group of players, we did the ol’ “pass the controller” routine. That’s how it was. It really wasn’t until I was introduced to Super Metroid, and around the same time, PC gaming, that I became interested in a more solitary style of play.
If anything got me back into the world of co-op and multiplayer, it was the Nintendo 64, and particularly the first Mario Party, which is, for better or worse, the only Mario Party game that I can fully acknowledge. I’ve not played Mario Party 2 or any of its other sequels. I can only guess that Mario Party 2 was singled out for this list because it did something better than the original, and that it rose a bit higher in form than its sequels. If you’ve played multiple games from the series, I’d be quite curious to hear about the differences between the games, the standouts and the low points.
So speaking only to the original Mario Party, I can definitively say that it was the most enjoyable party game I had ever played up to that point (the late 1990s). I couldn’t recall for you my favorite mini-games within it (it was the late 90s, when no party was complete without booze and black lights), but I know that we specifically bought a couple N64 extra controllers just to have on hand for the game. And I know that we spent hours upon hours chiding our friends along in games that best belonged in the saturated and bright Mario-verse.
But Mario Party went well beyond winning. At it’s heart, it was all about camaraderie. It really did help bring together different worlds. Among our clan, we had gamers and non-gamers, pop culture elites and moody layabouts, A-types and B-types, politicos and politic-nots…and somehow, everyone was able to come together over Mario Party. Somehow, in the land of mini-games and Mario, nothing about our differences and viewpoints mattered. Of course, the competitive ones might have gotten a little angry at being beaten and the nonchalant ones might have complained about all the seriousness, but nothing during those rounds of play was taken personally or meant to hurt. We were all just there, enjoying the hell out of jumping on each other in order to meet a goal, win a game, or just have a damn good time.
Have I played Mario Party 2?
No, only Mario Party.
If yes, then do I consider it a “must?”
If no, then do I want to play the game before I die?
So my questions don’t really work here, do they? I’d still enjoy hearing from you, any MP fans, what makes the games tick for you. Do you think they are a “must?” I think playing a Mario Party game is a must, because the series really does right by competitive yet fun co-op. The games are welcoming yet challenging and really do make for a great game night with whoever might be around.