As Nintendo focuses more on more on Switch development, their resources have gradually been pulling back from investing as much into the 3DS catalog. Since last year, it’s been made clear how releases would be handled from now on. If it’s not a small release, it’s a remake or “Best of” mix released on cartridge. Mario Party: The Top 100 was one of the earlier signs of this trend, and it shows.

On paper, the concept is a match made in heaven for Mario Party enthusiasts. A barrage of mini games and content from Mario Parties over the years, remixed and brought back an all-new installment? Yes, please! However, as much detail as there was put into the mini games that returned, there was also a huge lack of detail for what the package is as a whole. For starters, this is a Nintendo 3DS game in the series that only acknowledges the console games; why there’s no Mario Party DS or Island Tour representation is beyond me.

Graphics

Visually, Mario Party: The Top 100 holds up fairly well on the ol’ handheld. The way it reimagined some of the older mini games and preserves the newer ones is rather impressive. The stickler in me thinks the models may sometimes look too much like plastic or overly brightened in comparison to the originals, but the game looks good overall. I thought Mario Party: Star Rush was a clean-looking game in its own right, and The Top 100 carries this style over into familiar territory.

One thing I thought was rather dumb was the character lineup. You’d think that a celebration of the entire series would include at least most of the playable characters that appeared throughout, but we only get a total of eight to choose from. Rosalina is playable despite debuting as late as Mario Party 10, but mainstays like Donkey Kong and Toad are just CPU opponents on special occasions.

Audio

Aside from things like menus, the music consists of remixes from older Mario Party games. They are all decent compositions that fit the bill for what mini games they’re attached to. Well, for the most part. For some reason, there are certain mini games that use tunes from different ones rather than those of their origin. As a Mario Party 2 fanatic, this bugged me when I played mini games like Speed Hockey.

I also feel the sound design is somewhat lacking. Compared to some of the other Mario Parties, sounds are either downplayed or, in the voice samples’ case, made obnoxious. All the characters have a voice clip for nearly every action they do. It just takes away some of the impact of what’s going on onscreen for me, especially when certain character grunts/yells don’t match up too well with their actions.

Gameplay

If you think the mini games are what the Mario Party series is best for, then Mario Party: The Top 100 should be right up your alley. True to its name, there are a whopping 100 mini games taken from throughout the series history. From the original game on Nintendo 64 to the big 1-0 on Wii U, all ten main console games in the series are represented here in some form of mini game quantity. And for what they’re worth, they are indeed fun to play. The variety between them all is great, and none are difficult to hop into; playing through them in succession has a kinetic arcade feel to it. Granted, not all of them are winners (Who in their right mind thought Button Mashers would be a good fit for this?), but for every dud, there are like ten solid others that follow.

But you know what the Mario Party series is also known for? Why, the boards of course! What would Mario Party be without elaborate board game mechanics? Well…a minigame collection. That’s what hurts Mario Party: The Top 100. The closest thing there is to board play is this game’s equivalent to Balloon Bash from its predecessor, Star Rush. But unlike Star Rush, there’s literally ONE grid-based board to play on. Any other mode in here just has you play a number of mini games, including the mini game Island single-player campaign. If you don’t have friends that are willing to play this handheld Mario Party with you, all you’ll have to latch onto is Mini game Island – which nets you just under 2-3 hours of play. Oh, and there’s still no online play. Keep in mind this game solely focuses on its mini games. There is seriously no excuse at this point.

Verdict

If you’re looking for a good Mario Party game to play on the 3DS, Mario Party: Star Rush is the way to go. The Top 100 is essentially a stripped version of that game, but coated with nostalgia for older audiences. There’s still a fair amount to enjoy here if you only care about the mini games; the kinds of mini games presented here are enjoyable, no doubt. Without the long-lasting fun/intensity and unique characteristics of the game boards, though, Mario Party: The Top 100 is more a generic mini game collection than a genuine Mario Party game. This game could have gone a long way if it contained the full experience.

Copy purchased by reviewer