We all should know that the Mario Party series consists of some of the most innovative ways to destroy friendships ever designed by man, but there are some entries in the series that are more brutal then others. Everyone knows the original gave Nintendo a few good lawsuits for implementing minigames that were designed to give people physical pain. Luckily, Nintendo realized that the emotional pain was a lot harder to get evidence for so they stuck to that instead. Now despite the first few games in the series being a janky mess, they still had some fun maps. In fact most games in the series have a couple of maps that are well known due to their sheer randomness or uniqueness. Some of the more well known examples are Waluigi Island in Mario Party 3 and Snowflake Lake from Mario Party 6. These maps had elements that mix in a special kind of randomness that can make the results completely unpredictable. That is, in my opinion, the essence of a good Mario Party map. However, today I want to highlight a particular map that people might not be aware of and I want to show how despite being deceptively tame, it is probably one of, if not the most, broken Mario Party maps in history. Before I talk about the map though, let’s talk a bit about the game it comes from: Mario Party DS.
Now Mario Party DS was actually my first exposure to the series. I was naïve back then and didn’t understand the world of pain I was about to embark on, but no one ever learns a lesson without trying something new. Now there are a total of five maps in the game, which is pretty low for a Mario Party game, but they are all fun in their own way. The first one is a pretty simple map with no special gimmicks other than just try to get to a star space before your opponents, but the rest have other gimmicks that have been taken from previous titles in the series and rethemed. Well, except for the last one which is basically a typical Mario Party map with a lot more gambling and a lot more pain. It actually has the most brutal trap in any Mario Party game where if you get unlucky you will lose all your coins and all your stars, putting you immediately in fourth place. I can’t think of any other time Bowser has been that brutal, but I guess that’s just Mario Party DS for you. Surprising enough, the broken map is not that one. It is actually a map called DK’s Stone Statue, which is a seemingly simple map. All you are required to do is get to the top of the DK statue to buy a star. That’s it. It is one of the newer kinds of maps in which the Star Space doesn’t move so you just need to travel in a straight line to get to it. Well, not necessarily straight, but it is very linear compared to other maps in the series. Seems fine, until you learn that it isn’t a Star Space up at the top, but a Star Splurge Space. This space is what changes the game entirely.
Now you are probably wondering what makes this particular Star Space so problematic. It’s actually pretty simple. This space allows you to buy multiple stars at a time. Now some of you might be thinking “Is that it?” That is fair response since there are other boards in the series that have allowed for purchasing multiple stars at a time. However, there is something those games included when purchasing stars that this game didn’t and that is a star cap. You could only buy a certain amount of stars at a time in other games, but in this one that doesn’t apply. As long as you have enough coins, you can buy as many stars as you like. That is crazy powerful, especially if you are good at the minigames since you can rack up a bunch of coins heading to the summit. However, there are a couple of things to note. You see, Mario Party DS makes a distinction between items. There are two types: items and hexes. Items are used in a way that they only affect the player whereas hexes are used in a way where they only affect other players. Some hexes steal coins and stars from other players, but the important ones for this map are the Space Swap Hex and the Coin Swap Hex which can greatly the change the outcome of the game do the linear nature of the board and the added value of coins compared to other boards. After all, even if you have a good amount of coins, it doesn’t matter if you can’t spend them. So in the end it is all a matter of how much you can spend at once. You might think that this still isn’t chaotic enough and to that I want to throw in one more curveball.
Now in most Mario Party games, there is something called The Last Five Turns Event in which someone, typically Bowser, shows up and has a player spin a win to spice up the game for the remaining turns. This is typically done by the person who is in last place. This is also true in Mario Party DS, although in this game it is called the Final Five Frenzy. It actually is a lot tamer than it sounds. Most of the options aren’t anything that will affect the board and instead, most will directly affect the player. Sometimes they receive coins, and sometimes they can receive a star. However, there is one option that directly affects the board. Want to take a guess? No? Fine. There is one option that makes it so stars are five coins each. Now, this function is only available on boards where it doesn’t interfere with the gimmick, but DK’s Stone Statue is not excluded from this option popping up. Meaning that in the last five turns, all stars are now 75% off. So not only do the bonus stars and duels essentially become irrelevant, but it becomes a mad dash to get to the top and the standings fluctuate wildly during this period. Just imagine that if you have fifty coins, you can now buy ten stars at once. In fact, sometimes it might be better to play so that you don’t spend coins until the Final Five Frenzy is over so that you can make sure to get the best price. However, it is a dangerous play to make since the Coin Swap Hex is available. My record I believe for one game was I had 78 stars as my final total and no one was even close to touching me. The most dangerous part of the game is holding onto coins, but once they are converted into Stars then there isn’t much that opponents can do to catch up. There is no Chance Time event is this game after all so once you get the lead, you pretty much keep it. Other maps have some checks for this, but only this one actively encourages you to run away with the lead. I believe there is actually an in-game achievement for getting at least 70 stars on the board. However, just because it was programmed to be easily exploitable doesn’t mean it is any less broken. I am not saying that the map isn’t fun. What I will say though is if you have the opportunity to play it, see how much you can break it. Provided you can find a copy. Anyway, that’s all for today. See you next time!