Making the Grades
During the course of the week I have come to realize what husbands sometimes forget: Women are truly overburdened and understaffed when managing a home. Over that same period of time, my wife's health has deteriorated to where she's now using several antibiotics and pain killers to combat a cold gone bad and consequently, has been unable to meet writing deadlines, make meals, or (worst of all) amuse our three boys. "Sure Honey, don't you worry about a thing" I chimed, certain that I could display my super stardom of fatherhood since I had a few days off. I mean, what does she do at home all day while I'm at work anyway?
Being a brilliant parent, I rented Mario Party 3 (MP3), a super deluxe hybrid puzzle-parlor-electronic-board game, and Nintendo's commemoration of the start of the 21st century. Were my kids going to be babysat or what!
Once every thousand years a mystical Millennium Star is born. However, this meteor fell from the sky into Princess Peach's courtyard narrowly missing Mario and his friends. Due to a scarcity mentality, they naturally started quibbling about who could claim it, until deciding to resolve the argument by playing a board game filled with 70 mini-games. Whoever can win seven Star Stamps (Wit, Kindness, Strength, Love, Courage, Beauty and Mischief) will prove their worthiness to posses the coveted galactic trophy.
Assuming the identity of your favorite character, there are three modes of play available. The first, Battle Royal, will be familiar to MP1 or 2 fans. This turn based, random activity game allows you and up to three other players (human or computer) to advance around unique boards and land on spaces that give or take away coins. After each of the competitors has moved once, a mini-game is played to collect more loot. Landing on a space with the Millennium Star enables you to exchange coins for stars. The player with the most stars is entitled to combat Wario. Decrease his stamina and you have earned a Star Stamp.
Introducing Duel Map mode is MP3's way of outdoing itself. Like our noisy next-door neighbors, each successive party must be bigger and better than the last. In this second mode, you and one other opponent (again human or artificial) travel around a board and lay claim to some of the spaces much like in Monopoly, or enter into the assigned mini-game. Adding to the contest, you can hire one of twelve possible partners to attack your unguarded opponent and gain one of their Heart Pieces. Of course, the stronger your ally, the more salary they demand, and if you are unable to pay, they'll walk away.
If no one will RSVP to your party invitation, then you can select the third mode known as Single-Player or Storyline. This variation has you competing against three computer-controlled opponents while alternately playing Battle Royal and Duel Maps to try and collect the seven Star Stamps.
Mario Party 3 is a solid and challenging game with a high replay value, especially when played against other humans. I rented the cassette twice this week for the kids and most of the 70 mini-games were enjoyable--especially Snowball Summit and Eatsa Pizza, but parents should note the gambling nature of Game Guy, whose stacked odds could mislead some children when playing games of chance outside the home. Instructions are clear and concise for older children; yet younger ones may still be able to figure them out by looking at the onscreen joystick/button icons. Once games are unlocked during normal Board Map play, you can go to the Free Play Room and practice them. However, don't try to unlock all 70 games in one sitting or I guarantee you'll need something for your migraine. Tunes are memorable, even when you wake up the next morning.
Just like the Millennium Star, by the end of the week I too came crashing down to earth. The kids haven't brushed their teeth for days, we've had to eatsa lot of pizza, and the summit of the laundry pile is rivaling Mount Everest. Unlike the prevalent competitive environment in Mario Party 3, I've learned the value of teamwork and sharing in marriage. Now if I could just get rid of this tickle in my throat...
Todd Law (in lieu of Melanie)