Recently, Fresh Look columnist Michelle and I were fortunate to go spend time with Save State columnist and longtime friend Vincent Mahoney. We decided to kick it old school and play some Mario Party. We booted up Mario Party Superstars and played a few maps. It was nice to relive the old party atmosphere that was local multi-player.
It was also nice to play a familiar party title, especially since Superstars has maps and mini-games from every previous Mario Party game. Despite the advent of party titles like Among Us, Quiplash, and Fall Guys, there was always something different for me about playing Mario Party local multiplayer with a good group of friends.
It definitely helps that Vincent has great comedic timing. Superstars has stickers (with sound effects) that you can use at almost any time. Two in particular are Bowser with the word “hit” or “miss” combined with a growl. At one point my wife, Michelle, opened her map to get a better look at the board and plan her next move. In response, Vincent said, “Opening your map to see the board, that’s a miss,” and used the corresponding sticker.
This comic relief was coupled with another moment that will likely never be forgotten by us. During a team game, Michelle was struggling and kept bumping into Vincent’s character. He just sighed and said, “you’re doing great.” So now anytime someone does something wrong we look at them and say, “you’re doing great.” While it’s true that this fresh look at Mario Party seemed more about the people than the title, that is kind of the point.
Online gaming has gotten better over the years and has allowed less rigid communication, but there are still issues. A lot of online gaming is with strangers, and that makes it more competitive and sometimes less enjoyable. I would argue that local multiplayer, also known as couch co-op, with friends is better, especially for people with anxiety.
This is encouraged by titles like Mario Party where sometimes it is just background to friendly bonding. For some people, it’s exhausting to be competitive and doing so with strangers can exasperate that.
So, to wrap up this somewhat smaller Fresh Look column, know that after playing Mario Party for many hours, all of us are still friends, and probably better because of the experience. Sometimes, the best therapy is to have one of your friends tell you in a condescending voice that “you’re doing great.” I hope that all of you are doing great this week too!