So let’s talk about Mario party instead of.
Yes, Mario party. I can hear you moaning from here. I’m not a huge fan, but when someone says “hey let’s spend the next hour playing this insanely capricious and insane board game”, I don’t object. I just pick my character – usually a princess, which is probably one of the few times I’d choose an overtly female avatar – and let that happen. Because after all, the points don’t matter Mario party. Dead last? Here, have a star!
I probably didn’t play Mario party title in almost a decade, skipping the Wii U version entirely – but that hasn’t really changed much with 2018 Super Mario Party for the switch. Or at least not in the concept. There are a lot of bells and whistles added, and it’s definitely a better looking game now. But the core of “here’s a bunch of weird mini-games and maybe if you’re lucky with your dice rolls you’ll get a star” is still there. I was a little drunk when I played (safely) with friends, and checked out pretty quickly, to the tune of “I’m going to land on bad luck space on purpose.” I lost a bunch of coins and didn’t care. I was just there for the camaraderie.
The games we played were a mix of familiar and new – there was one where I had to draw shapes cooperatively with another player using a piece of string on a perforated board, and another where I was piloting a pod that other players shot with darts. at. But the last one we played was the best, and I seriously wish it was a separate game: Slaparazzi.
In this mini-game, all players are inside a ring surrounded by small stools that Koopas will randomly climb on to take a photo. Your goal is to be the subject of these photos, getting as much forward and center as you can, slapping the other players out of the way. The game will show you each photo as it is taken and mark you on your placement in the frame.
The photos are hilarious. They are never good by conventional standards, with stuck or blurry characters or taken at uncomfortable angles. But it’s those awkward angles, players caught in the middle of a slap or being slapped, that make it all a pleasure to see. It’s just wonderfully trashy in the way reality shows and tabloids can be, and it turns out I’m very, very good at putting people out of vampire reach for the camera. It was the only mini-game I won in the entire time my friends and I played.
I’ve always liked the photography mode in games like Spider Man and Final Fantasy XV, so of course I loved Slaparazzi. And as you can imagine, restarting Pokémon Snap because the switch can’t come soon enough for me.
Except of course, this is the year I learned to wait. I can wait for a new one Break, and for Little-known story get out of alphas and betas for something more finished, for the right mini-game in Super Mario Party, for Cyberpunk 2077 to solve his problems and for spring to return Animal crossing to catch the fish that I miss. Earlier this week I wrote about how 2020 was the year of the casual gamer, and these two titles – Little-known story and Super Mario Party – showed me that it’s not just the games that are casual, but me too.